RealTime IT News

Demon Clarifies Position On Free Speech

Demon Internet clarified its position on defending the right to free speech on the Internet, following criticism of its failure to lodge an appeal against a recent court ruling.

In a statement issued late on Friday, Demon insisted that it had not conceded in the court case brought by Dr. Laurence Godfrey, but was fully committed to fighting the action. The decision not to lodge an appeal, says Demon, was mistakenly interpreted as being the conclusion of a case which has still to be heard.

"We have in no way changed our stance, and are extremely confident of winning the case against Dr Laurence Godfrey," said David Furniss, director of Demon Internet.

Last week, uk.internet.com reported that the cyber liberties group Internet Freedom had called Demon's decision not to appeal "a disaster for ISPs, Net users and free speech." With the onus on the defendant to prove innocence under UK libel law, lawsuits place ISPs in a difficult position.

In making his April 23 judgment in the Godfrey v. Demon case, Mr Justice Morland noted that the plaintiff's postings could be construed as "puerile, unseemly and provocative" and likely to provoke "vulgar and abusive response." However, under law, it still appears that Demon has a case to answer even though any damages won by the plaintiff may well be small.

Although Demon remains confident of victory, Internet freedom groups are likely to remain dismayed that the principle of "innocent distribution" of material has not been defended and upheld.