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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Removing online defamation first published before 2014

Removing online defamation legal advice. Cohen Davis Solicitors
If the defamation was first published before the Defamation Act 2013 came into force, our strategy to facilitate the removal of the defamation from the internet will depend on whether or not you already have sufficient information about the whereabouts of the poster and on the location of the offending website.
Typically, the process of removing the defamation from the offending website will involve direct communication with the website host, the website operator or the website owner. 
If the identity or the full contact details of either the website operator or the owner of the website is concealed, we will carry out thorough investigations (on-line as well as off-line) aimed to link the defamatory website to an individual or organisation, with whom we will communicate and if necessary serve upon court orders.

In some cases, our page removal strategy will include obtaining appropriate court orders to compel those who hold identifying information about the poster, the web host or the owner of the website, to disclose to use all the relevant information that they hold. 
Legal proceedings to subpoena information could be relatively straight forward, particularly if we obtain the relevant court orders from the most competent court. For example, if we don't know who is the registered owner of a domain name that hosts the defamation, and the registrar of the domain name is say GoDaddy.com, we will subpoena the required information through a specific Court in Arizona USA because this is where GoDaddy.com is registered and where our USA lawyers are located.
Once we have obtained the identifying information we will communicate with the poster, the website operator or the website hosts and request that they remove the defamatory post from the offending website. 

It is important that a social media lawyer has at least good understanding of the culture, the law and motives of the publishers of the defamatory comments and that those are considered before firing off offensive and often counter-productive solicitor's letters.
Some website operators who are located outside the UK might be entitled to publish the defamation under their own local laws so issuing them with legal threads might backfire on our clients so experience and sensitivity is hugely important here.
When defamation was published on a website prior to the Defamation Act 2013, the website operator might not be able to rely on a 'safe harbour' defence which the Act provides. that says that they were merely publishers.

For this reason, our preferred strategy for removing defamatory comments published prior to 2014 will be to focus our initial communication on the website operator rather than the poster whenever possible. 
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