Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Search engine companies may not have downstream liability in Britain; a blow to libel tourism?

In a case that might slow “libel tourism” to Britain, a court in England ruled that Metropolitan International Schools (which provides adult training courses) could not sue Google (or other search engine companies) for “defamatory” material that shows up in search engine results. Search engine companies are not publishers, they are more like utility companies, the court ruled. In the United States, Section 230 protects Internet facilitators from downstream liability. The British court ruling may effective implement Section 230-style law in Britain, thankfully. The New York Times story by Eric Pfanner is available here.

The original cease and desist letter was published by “Chilling Effects”, web link here.

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