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Oil firm secures court orders in online defamation case


H.R. Haldeman

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The headline:

An Irish oil exploration company has secured court orders aimed at identifying people who allegedly posted defamatory material about it on internet message boards with a view to suing them following a "catastrophic" fall of £132 million in its market value in recent weeks.

It is claimed "wholly untrue" defamatory postings between November 8th and 22nd, including postings claiming the company's drilling project in Nevada, US, was a "scam" by "liars", materially contributed to its share price fall and damaged its company's reputation and ability to raise funds to exploit oil discoveries.

The market capitalisation of US Oil & Gas plc (USOP) on November 5th was £173 million when the share price was £4.15 and is now £41.6m with a share price of £1, the court heard.
Oil firm secures court orders - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 28, 2012

The bit that should concern all of us who post online:

Mr Fanning said the material complained of was posted on message boards on three websites - boards.ie operated by Boards.ie Ltd, an Irish company; iii.co.uk, operated by London South East Ltd, a UK company; and lse.co.uk, operated by two related companies, Interactive Investor Trading Ltd and Interactive Investor plc.

All the defendants had taken down the material when complaint was made, had behaved promptly and responsibly and his client had no issue with them but wished to get access to material aimed at identifying those who made the postings, counsel said.

Boards.ie Ltd had said it would provide IP addresses of those who posed the alleged defamatory material if the court ordered it to do so, he said. London South East Ltd had given a similar indication and, while Interactive had raised jursidcitional issues, it was not anticipated there would be a difficulty with that entity, counsel outlined.

I think the thing to take away here is that the websites are singing like canaries (Jaysus, I hope that's not defamatory!) and will/are co-operating in identifying the people who actually posted the defamation.

I'd also be of the opinion that this is a great ruling for online freedom of speech. It means websites themselves, if they act responsibly and in good faith, probably have less to fear than the individual posters who publish a defamation. That should keep more discussion sites open, whilst also protecting individuals and companies from defamation, since it is clearly the responsibility (primarily, at least) of the individual for what they post.

It's also a pretty scary reminder that some random comment can have real consequences in the real world.
 


Analyzer

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Will there be a Maltese version of this ?
 

Analyzer

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Feb 14, 2011
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Another disaster from Lendahand.

As far as I can remember he did nothing right. Ever.

Ireland's defamation laws provide yet another justification for dishing out punishment to FFinished.
 
D

Dylan2010

I'd say hedge funds are at this all the time, short a comany's stock, put out some rumours on investment boards and voila. So indeed its good if they bypass the board and go for the individual.
 

gerhard dengler

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Feb 3, 2011
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The headline:



Oil firm secures court orders - The Irish Times - Wed, Nov 28, 2012

The bit that should concern all of us who post online:




I think the thing to take away here is that the websites are singing like canaries (Jaysus, I hope that's not defamatory!) and will/are co-operating in identifying the people who actually posted the defamation.

I'd also be of the opinion that this is a great ruling for online freedom of speech. It means websites themselves, if they act responsibly and in good faith, probably have less to fear than the individual posters who publish a defamation. That should keep more discussion sites open, whilst also protecting individuals and companies from defamation, since it is clearly the responsibility (primarily, at least) of the individual for what they post.

It's also a pretty scary reminder that some random comment can have real consequences in the real world.

I heard the firms legal rep saying as much on the news earlier.
The website co-operated in turning over the IP address of the posters and the legal firm went after the posters as opposed to the website.

Which begs a question.
Even if the firm have an IP address for a poster how can anyone be sure that the computer's owner posted the defamatory message? It could be another user who has access to the computer.
 

Mr. Bumble

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I would think that this was a case of deliberate malicious intent on the part of the posters. Not some uninformed looper ranting, as is the norm here.
 
D

Deleted member 17573

So, now that it's all been sorted out, why hasn't the share price recovered?
 

Ribeye

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Btw - its only Defamation if it's untrue,

Now, let's go duck hunting,

Quack quack:)
 

Spirit Of Newgrange

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is there one set of laws for the rich and powerful and another set of laws for everybody else ?
 

Ribeye

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libertarian-right

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Internet Cafe - Grow a mustache and dye the hair pink with a top hat.

Create new email account. Go onto forums, wreak havoc while on proxy. Bobs your uncle.
 

Sync

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Sync

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I heard the firms legal rep saying as much on the news earlier.
The website co-operated in turning over the IP address of the posters and the legal firm went after the posters as opposed to the website.

Which begs a question.
Even if the firm have an IP address for a poster how can anyone be sure that the computer's owner posted the defamatory message? It could be another user who has access to the computer.
It's tough to show all right, but that's not the website's problem. From an adult's freedom of speech perspective, it's a great thing. I'm responsible for what I write. So are you. I'm under the same obligations as if I wrote in a newspaper or spoke on the radio. It's positive that in a case where the victim appears to have suffered real financial loss, they're going after the people who actually caused the loss as opposed to the websites who acted responsibly.
 
Last edited:

H.R. Haldeman

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Even if the firm have an IP address for a poster how can anyone be sure that the computer's owner posted the defamatory message? It could be another user who has access to the computer.

Fair question, but really that's a problem for the alleged defamer and the alleged injured party.

The message to the rest of us remains the same: Steorn have invented a perpetual motion machine, yeah baby!
 

JamieD

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I heard the firms legal rep saying as much on the news earlier.
The website co-operated in turning over the IP address of the posters and the legal firm went after the posters as opposed to the website.

Which begs a question.
Even if the firm have an IP address for a poster how can anyone be sure that the computer's owner posted the defamatory message? It could be another user who has access to the computer.
This has been used numerous times by defendants in anti-piracy cases. In those cases it doesn't usually fly because when you get an Internet access account, you are accepting sole responsibility for all activity coming from that account. I don't know how it will work in a case of defamation, but with an Internet forum there is also other identifiers, in particular the e-mail address associated with the account, and the fact that the user had to login with a username and password they probably have been using there for years in order to post.

But ye, whether an IP address can be used to identify an individual is an extremely controversial question these days.

What isn't controversial though is that forums such as this one would comply with a court order to hand over such information. Everyone here is responsible for what they post, politics.ie won't accept responsibility for what we post and shouldn't.
 

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