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Submission + - English Judge finds Google not liable for 'Internet Graffiti" on their services (bailii.org)

Grumbleduke writes: "In a week dominated by attacks on their new privacy policy, finally some good news for Google, along with other web hosting providers. As reported by the Telegraph, a High Court Judge has ruled that Google is not responsible for publishing comments on their services (in this case, Blogger), no matter how offensive they are.

Following a 1999 libel case, it has generally be understood that service providers such as Google are publishers of the content on their systems, and lose any immunity they have as soon as they are warned the content is defamatory, leading to an extra-judical take-down system.

In this case, where Google was being sued by a UK politician over allegedly defamatory comments on a Blogger post, the Judge held that the hosts were not even publishers and so not liable at all. Going further, Mr Justice Eady commented that even if Google were a publisher, they would not be liable as being notified that the comments may be defamatory was not enough to count as "actual knowledge." Google could not be expected to assess whether or not each statement was defamatory, or defensible.

This ruling marks a welcome, if subtle, change in the law. It should reduce the chilling effect of libel threats on UK-based service providers, as they may no longer be required to remove content or face substantial legal costs themselves."


Submission + - The UK's very own DMCA; only worse. (pirateparty.org.uk)

Grumbleduke writes: During today's debate in the UK's House of Lords on the much-criticised Digital Economy Bill the unpopular Clause 17 (that would have allowed the government to alter copyright law much more easily than it currently can) was voted out in favour of a DMCA-style take-down system for websites and ISPs. The new amendment (known as 120A) sets up a system whereby a copyright owner could force an ISP to block certain websites who allegedly host or link to infringing material or face being taken before the High Court (and made to pay the copyright owner's legal fees). This amendment was tabled by the Liberal Democrat party who had so far been seen as the defenders of the internet and reason and with the Conservative party supporting them passed by 165 to 140 votes. The UK's Pirate Party and Open Rights Group have both strongly criticised this new amendment.

The Bill is currently in Report stage in the House of Lords, and will then and will then have to pass through the (elected) House of Commons. The government has indicated its desire to push through the legislation before the upcoming election.

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