Sunday 21 January 2018

Net giants want full trial over defamatory video order

Tim Healy

A DECISION that a defamatory YouTube video be permanently removed from the internet should only be arrived at after a full trial of the matter, a High Court judge has been urged.

It was a fundamental legal principle that such a far-reaching order should not be the subject merely of an injunction hearing but of a full High Court case, which would establish the definitive position on this question, Michael Howard, for Google and YouTube, said.

He was speaking yesterday during his application by his clients for a stay, pending appeal, on an injunction granted last month by Mr Justice Michael Peart that steps be taken to permanently remove a video falsely accusing a student of taxi-fare evasion.

The judge had ordered experts on behalf of DCU student Eoin McKeogh (23), right, to meet experts for YouTube, Google and Facebook with a view to agreeing how to remove it for good on a worldwide basis.

The three internet giants sought a stay on that order while Mr McKeogh opposed any stay. Yesterday, Mr Justice Peart heard arguments from both sides. The hearing resumes next week.

Google and YouTube wanted to appeal Mr Justice Peart's decision because it involved a legal principle of great significance to them, Mr Howard said.

Hearing

It was their position that the order involved a fundamental legal principle and jurisdiction that could only be established at a full trial and not after an injunction hearing.

Mr Howard said his clients had done everything throughout this case to facilitate the removal of the defamatory material, including a facility that allows users to self-delete, and this and other services would continue to be in place pending an appeal and while any stay was in place.

Rossa Fanning, for Facebook, said the order made by the court was without precedent and would have devastating consequences for his client.

Mr McKeogh wanted to rid the internet of all the defamatory material but, as the operator of only one website service, Facebook was not in a position to do that, he said.

Pauline Walley, for Mr McKeogh, said the defendants were continuing to treat her client as just one of the other billion internet users and not someone who the court had found had been clearly defamed.

Irish Independent

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