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.

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