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EU Court Holds News Website Liable For Readers' Comments

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the sticks-and-stones dept.

The Courts 246

angry tapir writes "Seven top European Union judges have ruled that a leading Internet news website is legally responsible for offensive views posted by readers in the site's comments section. The European Court of Human Rights found that Estonian courts were within their rights to fine Delfi, one of the country's largest news websites, for comments made anonymously about a news article, according to a judgment."

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Nice! (5, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#45099607)

Now we can insult ourselves with anonymous posts and then sue the posting site for 500$.

Nospam007 you are moron!

Ooops, forgot to click the 'Post anonymously' checkbox.

Re:Nice! (1)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about a year ago | (#45099627)

Indeed; it's entirely possible that the ferry company itself posted the anonymous libel.

Re:Nice! (1)

They'reComingToTakeM (1091657) | about a year ago | (#45099955)

So, what is the antonym of Astroturf?

Re: Nice! (4, Insightful)

techprophet (1281752) | about a year ago | (#45100169)

Asphalt?

Re:Nice! (5, Insightful)

Jeff Havens (2868493) | about a year ago | (#45099731)

Wow, idiocy is spreading to other courts around the world.

Re:Nice! (1, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#45099805)

It's not "spreading" when you observe it where it originated.

Re:Nice! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099851)

very true,
that observation may be offensive to yanks and limeys, `cause the murkans are the world police, piss all over the ICC, and cannot read history, c`ommon man!

bring back dueling, say aye

Re:Nice! (-1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#45099943)

Wow, idiocy is spreading to other courts around the world.

Why? Moderation of comments isn't difficult.

Re:Nice! (5, Insightful)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#45099971)

Wow, idiocy is spreading to other courts around the world.

Why? Moderation of comments isn't difficult.

Until you have 10 comments a minute. Or 100. Or 1000? Do you want to also pay for your ability to comment?

Re:Nice! (5, Insightful)

skovnymfe (1671822) | about a year ago | (#45100015)

We're already paying for our ability to comment on Slashdot. Granted it's not in dollars, but in the collective effort and time spent down-voting bad comments and up-voting good ones.

Re:Nice! (2)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#45100033)

We're already paying for our ability to comment on Slashdot. Granted it's not in dollars, but in the collective effort and time spent down-voting bad comments and up-voting good ones.

...in a country that doesn't require you to be legally responsible for their content. Want to be?

Re:Nice! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100075)

down-voting bad comments and up-voting good ones.

Are we still talking about Slashdot??

Re:Nice! (2)

Tore S B (711705) | about a year ago | (#45100057)

Comments are a source of income to newspapers, because it causes repeat traffic to the same articles.

Whether or not it is profitable is a concern for the newspaper, not everyone else.

Re:Nice! (1)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year ago | (#45099821)

Does the ruling open the possibility that the comment does not need to be anonymous?

Re: Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100123)

Whenever I find out who you are, I am gonna do mean and nasty things to you just because I don'like what you said!

Re:Nice! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099965)

Well the EU gets the politics, laws and judges it deserves. It wants them that way, a continent of self depreciating masochists.
Well, when something like this happens, they just all stand around like cattle and never do anything. Maybe a few "safe" protests by trendy college kids.
Nope, see what pacifism costs? How about some good old fashioned Euro style revolution, complete with guillotines, torches and pitchforks?
Is the EU full of castranado? Buncha peaceful sissys who do what the government wants, because the government knows best. *spits*

Re:Nice! (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45100017)

..I think you have your continents mixed up.

because in Europe you can still have massive protests without the police coming to beat up everyone, the french do it regularly.

What this means probably though is that anon comments will be disabled in Estonia(or systems put in place where even the rest of the sites are put on a system where the comments are reviewed before publishing, that however makes the comments useless for catching juicy new information on the subject. such staff review is quite common with news site commenting.).

Re:Nice! (3, Insightful)

Tore S B (711705) | about a year ago | (#45099985)

No; what this does is hold newspaper editors legally responsible as editors for what they choose to include in their publication.

This is more likely to mean that anonymity (unless explicitly agreed in advance) in the comments fields will disappear.

This is a Good Thing, because those fields are cesspools, and online papers show little to no interest in preventing that. As long as they can have the angry idiots coming back to vent their spleen, they get ad revenue.

Essentially, the courts have forced newspapers to act more like journalistic institutions and less like businesses. I'm totally down with that.

Seriously? (5, Insightful)

sirwired (27582) | about a year ago | (#45100055)

As long as the comments are clearly delineated from editorial content, I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense to hold the paper responsible for the content of the comments. (Not to mention that holding a newspaper liable under human rights laws for "offensive" speech would be laughed out of nearly any court in the US. That wouldn't stop some clowns from trying, or a particularly brain-addled judge from occasionally issuing an injunction, but it'd never stick.)

Yes, the comments of many news websites are worthless cesspools of scum and villainy. But there's better ways to prevent that than holding newspapers legally liable for comment content.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100097)

Sweet plan to kill off the newspapers.

Re:Nice! (5, Insightful)

kartaron (763480) | about a year ago | (#45100101)

Actually, by definition they are being held accountable for giving the public an area to express their opinion on the content of their publication. There is a difference. The court should have had to prove the comments are somehow supported instead of assuming that since the comments weren't censored. No sane person could interpret a comments section of an online news publication to be sponsored, factually accurate or even impartial. The comments sections are cesspools because the opinions of the general populace (at least those who need to comment on news publication sites) are chaotic. To hold the newspaper responsible is to believe the newspaper itself encouraged some particular (negative) response. Going beyond that, how was anyone damaged? Would anyone here make business or even personal decisions because 'Anonymous Coward' said "Business Alpha Trinkets is a terrible business that stole my money and gave me no trinkets"? Would that change if a user named Alphatrinketssucks had said it instead? The answer is no. The answer is no because we generally have no respect for the random musings of random internet users because of the longstanding tradition of trolls, flamebaiters, morons and lunatics on the web. They are everywhere. Slashdot, a site where moderation of comments is celebrated around the web, is full of innuendo and accusations against any number of international businesses and individuals. none of which do any harm at all because the people reading the comments dont pay any more heed to the comment than the fact that it is one person's opinion, and maybe not even a particularly well reasoned one. Freedom should win out in this case. Freedom always serves the public better than control.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100197)

In the same vein why not make a state liable for the crimes of its citizens?

MAKES CENTS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099611)

A bit !!

Whoever your favourite politician is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099615)

... he's a shit!

Sorry, Slashdot. Looks like you'll have to pay up. I have a brother who's a good lawyer...

Is EU becoming EUSSR...? (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about a year ago | (#45099623)

...or EUSA?

Join the club ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099753)

Is EU becoming EUSSR...
 
...or EUSA?

With China, Russia and the United States of America, the three big superpowers of the world playing the Big Brother Game, can EU afford to be left behind ??

This is not EU law... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099625)

This is not EU law, it is the ECHR which relates to the Convention on Human Rights - a separate body from the EU...

Re:This is not EU law... (1)

palemantle (1007299) | about a year ago | (#45099735)

I don't think the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could've have tried this case as you can't appeal decisions of national courts at the ECJ. Hence the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Still not a done deal as this verdict can be appealed within a span of three months.

Re:This is not EU law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100069)

I don't think the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could've have tried this case as you can't appeal decisions of national courts at the ECJ. Hence the appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Still not a done deal as this verdict can be appealed within a span of three months.

That's wrong.

You can appeal decisions made by any of the member states' highest national court to the ECJ. The ECJ generally has not much to do with human rights issues. The relevant convention is the ECHR, which has nothing to do with the ECJ. Even Russia is a member of the ECHR.

Re:This is not EU law... (5, Informative)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about a year ago | (#45099761)

Estonian law holds news website liable for comments. The European court has ruled that Estonian law does not breach the human rights conventions. Ironically, I could not comment on the Computerworld article due to a "Forbidden (403)" error.

Re:This is not EU law... (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#45099837)

Estonian law holds news website liable for comments. The European court has ruled that Estonian law does not breach the human rights conventions.

Why don't YOU write summaries?

Oh, wait, that would increase their quality. I apologize for putting forward such a preposterous idea.

Re:This is not EU law... (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about a year ago | (#45099905)

To be fair, they just quoted the Computerworld article, news organizations are copying each others' mistakes all the time. And a lot of people over on this side of the pond confuse the European Court of Human Rights with the European Union. It's all "bloody Europe, they should mind their own business" round here.

Re:This is not EU law... (2)

ibwolf (126465) | about a year ago | (#45100203)

This is an important distinction you make. The ECHR did not hold new websites liable for readers' comments, as the title would have you believe. It merely ruled that a national law (Estonian in this case) that did so was not in violation of human rights.

This means that websites in other European countries that recognize the authority of the ECHR will not be need to worry about this unless there is a similar national law in place.

Re:This is not EU law... (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about a year ago | (#45099917)

You are right, it appears that is a global thing to want to hold people responsible for what they say...not that I agree with that by the way. There are many cases where stating the obvious can cause harm. Bless all the anonymous cowards!!

Re:This is not EU law... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099953)

Still a European court, and euro politicians are "outraged" (wink wink, nudge nudge) over the NSA, but have no problem with its inept courts! You might as well say you cannot comment ever, because even if the comment is thoughtful someone asshole will complain and file a suit because they found it insulting.

Hell that means slashdot is finished. Who will be the first jerk to complain and sue slashdot?

Re:This is not EU law... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about a year ago | (#45100231)

Hell that means slashdot is finished. Who will be the first jerk to complain and sue slashdot?

I'm putting my money on APK. He gets insulted practically every time he posts, and frequently when he doesn't post, too.
Of course, there's the flip side in that he posts scads of insults in virtually every post he makes, too, so it could go either way.

Not just the USA anymore (2, Interesting)

The Last Gunslinger (827632) | about a year ago | (#45099629)

Apparently it isn't just our appellate courts here in the States that have gone batshit crazy. The insanity seems to be spreading.

Re:Not just the USA anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099693)

Apparently it isn't just our appellate courts here in the States that have gone batshit crazy. The insanity seems to be spreading.

Seems that in this case they upheld the member state's law even though that wasn't the direct reasoning behind it. Quite the opposite of the US.

Re:Not just the USA anymore (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45099709)

Yes I better rethink my comments about MI5, MI6, BND and GCHQ.
All organs of the State are doing glorious work.
I will not longer recall http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/spy-scandal-german-intelligence-officers-detained-in-kosovo-a-592298.html [spiegel.de]
and have already forgotten http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2434435/Ministry-Defence-urged-make-repatriation-ceremonies-low-key-reduce-body-bag-syndrome.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:Not just the USA anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099733)

It's not as IF MI5 or MI6 are going to sue you anyway, they'll just contract teaching you teh error of your ways out to the rusian fsb or whoever for some ugly ex-spetnatz guy to come round and 'enlighten you'

Re:Not just the USA anymore (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45099757)

End up in a gym bag? Or small truck collision?

Re:Not just the USA anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099823)

Polonium poisoning.

Re:Not just the USA anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099863)

This is the UK: "Umbrella marks on the leg" is the traditional treatment.

Re:Not just the USA anymore (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45099889)

Re:Not just the USA anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099747)

I don't like the ruling and what it could mean for public forums but... I get the argument.

Lets say I invited some friends around to make up some posters that I would later display in a public place on my property. I go out and prepare the fence and I leave my friends to make up the posters. Unfortunately as a /joke/ my friends decided to make up posters of which I later trustingly display on my front fence (I later claim I was wearing a blind fold when I put them up).

Do you think the police and some angry parents with /damaged children/ visiting me the next day would buy the excuse that I wasn't responsible for the content displayed on my property because it wasn't me who made the posters?

Re:Not just the USA anymore (1, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#45099809)

Where do you think these batshit crazy ideas come from in the first place? Not the US...

Re:Not just the USA anymore (1)

Tore S B (711705) | about a year ago | (#45099989)

The editor legally responsible for what their paper prints. This is a perfectly logical extension of that.

No freedom of speech in Europe (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099631)

It shouldn't matter who made the comments. Even if the site themselves posted the shit on purpose, "Offensive views" should be protected speech.

The "European Court of Human Rights" doesn't seem to give a damn about Human Rights.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (3, Interesting)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#45099675)

Exactly!
Nobody should be forced to be thought police.
And who is this that gets to define "offensive"? The person with the weakest skull?
Also I can't help but feel that honest opinions absolutely cannot exist without real anonymity, and so real debate on topics would effectively be squashed.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year ago | (#45099707)

Now I'm picturing an AI type system that reads all comments on news sites, blogs etc, and picks out the top 20 reasons why a persons comment *might* be offensive to *someone* and rejects them all offhand with the list of reasons... Then it becomes a game for the developers to make sure no comments can get through the filter. It could be applied to news sites and forums in protest (as if they would ever care to protest in favour of free speech :(

Re: No freedom of speech in Europe (1)

ted leaf (2960563) | about a year ago | (#45100085)

too late, the bbc in the uk already do. thats why they rarely allow comment on their own sites, and force folk to comment through f...book, bbc can then claim that their not responsible for comments then,and if they do allow comments on a bbc page, they run such a harsh censorship system that you cannot say anything a bit iffy without said comment being quickly removed.... mealy mouthed bunch of bastards at the bbc....

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099691)

"Offensive views" should be protected speech.

Opinions on that are divided. Most countries draw a line somewhere. Some European countries outlaws nazi propaganda, for example. The U.S. allows that, but outlaws other things: You can't publish slander - nasty lies about named persons.

The question here is, whatever the nature of the "illegal speech", should a website be held responsible for postings by users? If so, all such sites will need moderators - or they will be open to trivial and costly attacks. (I.e. someone post slander themselves and then sue the website operator.)

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099745)

Correct - especially stuff that's related to WWII is very sensitive here in Europe. Yet, almost any (news) site _does_ have moderation, and should. There are various ways to think of to make such not overly labour-intensive ; it's not that a moderator has to read each and every post.

It's not only the legal issue, it's also a matter of 'good taste'. Personally, i don't mind opposing opinions, as long basic politeness rules are obeyed. A site that hosts 'objectable content' (in my views, not even legally) will not see me return as reader. It's not only the legal side, it's also about building a customer/reader base.

Having said this all, i couldn't judge for it without reading the posts involved. Holding the site responsable for UGC indeed sets a precedent, but i'm not overly alarmed by that - they host it, after all. Someone ought be responsable and especially if this is a professional (commercial) and public accessable site.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (1)

Yomers (863527) | about a year ago | (#45099787)

AC that posted offending comment ought to be responsible. Can not find him? Oh well...

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099877)

when editors, moderators, and commentators "collude",
the media agenda gets set
the EU is subverting its member-states, is that in the press? most EU member-states would like to recognize Palestine as a Nation-State, is that in the press? Its a "sheister" game, and the truth is often turned on its head; mass-media has been reporting that the usa (shutdown) government "is being held hostage"...
they do not write that in the same article as they mention Janet Yellen and the NATIONAL DEBT (ransom)
go figure...............00,000,000.......

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099841)

You can't publish slander - nasty lies about named persons.

Yes you can; it just needs to have the right context.

You just can't assert it as a matter of fact, but opinion.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (3, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#45099719)

It shouldn't matter who made the comments. Even if the site themselves posted the shit on purpose, "Offensive views" should be protected speech.

The "European Court of Human Rights" doesn't seem to give a damn about Human Rights.

That really depends on what you define as a human right, and how it affects other's rights. I do agree with you, but their reasoning was (FTA) "Article 10 of E.U. law allowed freedom of expression to be interfered with by national courts in order to protect a person's reputation." In other words, it's up to the member nation as to what constitutes libel. In the US it's libelous if you know it's not true.

In the US for example, speech isn't 100% free. If something damages somebody's reputation, you better be able to show that you believed it was true or you're on the hook for libel or slander. A lot of other countries have where speech that damages reputation is considered libelous in certain circumstances even if it's true. The comments may or may not be truthful, though it sounds like there was malice behind them, and may or may not have been considered libel in the US or other countries in addition to Estonia. That's not really the big issue here because that's nothing new. The big issue is that the news site was responsible for a comment that somebody else posted. Slippery slope and all.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099803)

most of TFA:

In January 2006, Delfi published an article about a ferry company's decision to change its routes and thus delay the opening of alternative and cheaper ice roads to certain islands.
Many readers then wrote highly offensive or threatening posts about the ferry operator and its owner. The owner successfully sued Delfi in April 2006 and was awarded €320 (US$433).
Delfi argued that it was not responsible for the comments and that the fine violated E.U. freedom of expression laws. However the judges agreed that Article 10 of E.U. law allowed freedom of expression to be interfered with by national courts in order to protect a person's reputation, as long as the interference was proportionate to the circumstances.

The E.U. court decided that it was proportionate because, given the nature of the article, Delfi should have expected offensive posts and exercised an extra degree of caution.
In addition, the website did not appear to take any proactive steps to remove the defamatory and offensive comments, relying instead on automated word-filtering of certain vulgar terms or notification by users.
The article's webpage did state that the authors of comments would be liable for their content, and that threatening or insulting comments were not allowed. However, since readers were allowed to make comments without registering their names, the identity of the authors would have been extremely difficult to establish. Making Delfi legally responsible for the comments was therefore practical, said the court. It was also reasonable, because the news portal received commercial benefit from comments being made.

My takeaway: slope not slippery.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (2)

Apothem (1921856) | about a year ago | (#45099869)

Thanks for producing a better summary of the article than what was posted on /. Everyone is freaking out over some slippery slope, when in reality it looks more like the courts handled this in a totally reasonable manner. Even the fine was a reasonable one. I think the bigger issue here is that the site didn't have anyone actively moderating the page.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (2)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year ago | (#45100089)

The E.U. court decided that it was proportionate because, given the nature of the article, Delfi should have expected offensive posts and exercised an extra degree of caution.
In addition, the website did not appear to take any proactive steps to remove the defamatory and offensive comments, relying instead on automated word-filtering of certain vulgar terms or notification by users.

I see, so you think it's not okay to post a news article on a website if they can expect offensive posts? And that a website operator needs to take more proactive steps than work-filter and notification by users? That pretty much means that a website operator needs to manually read every single comment or post and determine if it constitutes defamation. I wonder how big a team of lawyers it would take to make that happen on slashdot.

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (3, Insightful)

enrevanche (953125) | about a year ago | (#45099815)

you do not have to show that you believed it was true, they have to show that you knew it was false

Re:No freedom of speech in Europe (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#45099879)

In the US for example, speech isn't 100% free. If something damages somebody's reputation, you better be able to show that you believed it was true or you're on the hook for libel or slander.

That doesn't have much to do with "free speech" per se; there are many ways in the US that saying the wrong thing can cost you money. Just like anything else, if you harm someone without cause or justification, they can recover damages from you. That isn't automatically an infringement of free speech rights. The major factor that makes speech non-free in Europe is the various restrictions on speech in European criminal law. You can face fines or prison in Europe for something you say even though no individual can necessarily demonstrate specific harm or damages, on the theory that some speech is intrinsically undesirable for society.

But civil law can also create restrictions on free speech if it creates such legal uncertainty that it causes people to interfere with legitimate free speech. The question is: will the civil law interfere with legitimate criticism. In the US, civil liability works in such a way that it doesn't do so; you only face liability if you deliberately and maliciously harm someone else. In Europe, you can face liability even for legitimate criticism, and now, even third parties may face liability for such criticism and be used as aids in restricting legitimate free speech.

Self-censorship then? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099635)

Delfi allows comments on each article and it is one of the reasons why it got quite popular in the Baltics being among the first to do that. This ruling will likely result in disabling comments for controversial articles which is kind of ironic when you think of it while you'll be left commenting unworthy panda and rainbow articles.

+1 Fail for EU Court. It's unfortunate since they usually do their job pretty fine.

Re:Self-censorship then? (1)

Yomers (863527) | about a year ago | (#45099737)

I tried to find not premoderated comments on any of EU officials blogs to give them a taste, no luck :(

But look what I've found, granma that's responsible for EU's 'digital agenda' (WTF is that?) wants our views on what she calls 'Internet governance'. http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kroes/en/content/internet-governance-i-want-your-views [europa.eu]

Re:Self-censorship then? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#45099811)

There is a gap in free speech the difference between opinion and false statement of fact. The US is currently one of the few countries that maintains a distorted view of the difference and how it counts against libel and slander. In Europe couching the forums as being only the "Opinions" of commentators and not statements of fact and continually reinforcing that concept of opinions over statements of facts, gives a great degree of protection. Of course it is still far more sensible to review comments at regular intervals and delete inappropriate ones, this policy can be clearly stated along with comment review schedule. It is never slander if it is in fact your opinion at the time of making the statement and your statement was made in the form of an opinion.

Re:Self-censorship then? (1)

Yomers (863527) | about a year ago | (#45099903)

Does not it make it kinda even more difficult to operate discussion forum, or IRC channel, or, I dare say, anonymous imageboard like 4chan? By what logic operator may be held liable for user's postings? If unidentified person offended other person in, say, supermarket - would supermarket owner be held liable? Operator may be forced to delete offending content by court order, or at least as with DCMA complaints - by the letter from offended person, that's understandable. But to hold operator liable for user's postings - means say farewell to any forms of discussions on the internet, except where user posted content is premoderated or user have to somehow authorise with his real identity.

Re:Self-censorship then? (1)

Cederic (9623) | about a year ago | (#45099825)

I didn't know Neelie's a grandmother. She does promote a lot of sensible things though - definitely gets marks for trying.

Re:Self-censorship then? (1)

Yomers (863527) | about a year ago | (#45099935)

Yes she does seems to promote sensible things and seems to understand what's going on. Comparing to our Russian counterparts that just add new topics to be included in firewall 'DROP' list in order to protect 'children' and rights holders - very very sensible.

Who decides what is 'offensive'? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099677)

Oh - I think they meant 'the truth', which is not allowed to be posted on the internet...

Re:Who decides what is 'offensive'? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#45099791)

Political parties, their families, supporters, the tame press and lots of tax exempt NGO's.
Sort of like the Soviet apparatchik, nomenklatura watching over all of us :)
They will grind your rights and bank account down to camp dust :)

Re:Who decides what is 'offensive'? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about a year ago | (#45100261)

Not everything that's posted on the Internet is the truth. I couldn't find whether the comments were lies or truths.
Neither could I find whether they were relevant to the topic.

Biased title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099689)

There's a big difference between holding something liable and not interfereing with a national court.

No it doesn't. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099711)

From the article:

Delfi argued that it was not responsible for the comments and that the fine violated E.U. freedom of expression laws. However the judges agreed that Article 10 of E.U. law allowed freedom of expression to be interfered with by national courts in order to protect a person's reputation, as long as the interference was proportionate to the circumstances.

In other words, the EU allows its nations to finetune their own interpretation of freedom of speech within certain boundaries and it ruled that the Estonian law does not violate those boundaries. This is a good thing as every country and culture values the balance of rights differently.

Re:No it doesn't. (3, Insightful)

enrevanche (953125) | about a year ago | (#45099923)

It's almost always about those with power silencing those without. It really has very little to do with culture. In the U.S. this is usually done with volume because the powerful are stuck with the Constitution. They would have changed things via regulare legislation along time ago if they could have. One thing important to consider is that the preferred way to get people to shut up is via self censorship, either fear of legal prosecution or exasperation because of a sense of powerlessness.

News sites will stop allowing comments. (4, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#45099713)

And nothing of value will be lost.

Re:News sites will stop allowing comments. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099785)

I thought Estonia was east of Europe... aren`t they the bad guys, i mean kommies or something?
Whatever the situation may be, people used to ridicule Nicholas Sarkozy, not for his role as a mossadnik or his participation in warmongering in NorthAfrica(Libya) or his selling-out the French taxpayer to the sheisteress Kristine LeGarde or for his role in the false-flag(red cross) attack on the Colombians or for his participation in the cocaine-heroin-and-weapons CLEARSTREAM debacle, or for his secret accounts as a lobbyist steering EADS interoperability with ever-expanding american radar, but for his height!
Well, the French purport to be a nation of the rule of law, but did Sarkosheister change the law? No, he sent off for Hungarian High-Heels.

Estonia should be similarly proactive in their efforts to be americas bitch, maybe CLOSE THE BORDERS?!? oh no, then the jEUrocRATS would block their entry!
back to the drawing board....

Re:News sites will stop allowing comments. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099893)

I thought Estonia was east of Europe...

You might be interested in a course in geography.

aren`t they the bad guys, i mean kommies or something?

And a course in recent history.

Re:News sites will stop allowing comments. (1)

plaukas pyragely (1630517) | about a year ago | (#45100189)

No loss? In case of Lithuanian branch it'd be pure win for mental health of the readers. You have no idea how crap it is.

Where do I comment on that ruling? (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about a year ago | (#45099767)

I have some choice words for these judges.

If it's bad for science... (4, Interesting)

mschaffer (97223) | about a year ago | (#45099789)

If comments are bad for science, why shouldn't they be bad for everyone else?

http://science.slashdot.org/story/13/10/02/2059238/do-comments-on-web-pages-ruin-science [slashdot.org]

Re:If it's bad for science... (3, Funny)

a_n_d_e_r_s (136412) | about a year ago | (#45099855)

If you are right and comments are bad.

It's time to shut down slashdot.

In France they take care of this (4, Informative)

advid.net (595837) | about a year ago | (#45099807)

I've seen many news web sites, in France, that shut down the comment feature in advance for articles about subjects usually prone to racist or antisemitic comments.
I have mixed feelings about this kind of limitations, they look like full preventive cencoreship.

Sometimes they can resort to manual comment moderation for this type of subject.

Seriously?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45099949)

So, if someone farts in public does that mean they are liable, or the food company. Equally as stupid a notion as this law.

Fight for your right to be insulted ! (1)

TractorBarry (788340) | about a year ago | (#45099975)

Looks like us sane peole should start emulating the Napoli football fans who recently staged a protest for the right to be insulted by Milan fans after said fans were banned from their own stadium for "offensive language".

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/09/italian-football-fans-abuse-milan-napoli [theguardian.com]

Fuck all these whiny pussies who want to turn the world into some sort of cotton swaddled PC playgrond for retards.

Re:Fight for your right to be insulted ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100103)

Fuck all these whiny pussies who want to turn the world into some sort of cotton swaddled PC playgrond for retards

I AM NOT WHINY!!! **runs sobbing from room**

Re:Fight for your right to be insulted ! (2)

coofercat (719737) | about a year ago | (#45100179)

TractorBarry is a raging homo/lesbian/paedo/other, who likes nothing more than to take advantage of vulnerable young people. he's predatory, merciless and ruthless.

TractorBarry lives at 123 Fake Street, Springfield, 90210. If you happen to be in the area, pop over and tell him how you feel about his homo/lesbian/paedo tendencies.

TractorBarry is an abomination, and will hopefully contract cancer and die really soon. He's the product of a mother who was hooked on crack and gave blowjobs to just about anyone so she could get her next fix. His dad was a $country hating fascist/socialist/marxist/communist/capitalist who would think nothing of screwing over his fellow man just to steal a quick buck.

Now, tell me again how any of this is a worthy addition to the actual subject at hand, or how it adds anything useful to the discussion? It could equally have been written as "but you may find people use the most base, degenerate and inappropriate insults when proper prose would be more useful". One form is acceptable, the other is not. In slashdot world, one form gets modded +1, the other "troll". The latter gets hidden for the majority of readers, thus avoids polluting the conversation needlessly.

I understand this ruling probably has unintended consequences, but there's no need for newspapers to leave the truly inappropriate on their sites. Heck, if I can remove them from my little blog which makes no money whatsoever, newspapers who make money from their sites can sure remove them. The judgement makes this activity a cost of doing business if your business is soliciting comments from the public. Seems fair enough to me (on the surface, at least).

Very informative piece of info at the bottom (5, Informative)

trifish (826353) | about a year ago | (#45100007)

A very interesting piece of info is at the bottom of TFA:

since readers were allowed to make comments without registering their names, the identity of the authors would have been extremely difficult to establish. Making Delfi legally responsible for the comments was therefore practical, said the court. It was also reasonable, because the news portal received commercial benefit from comments being made.

Re:Very informative piece of info at the bottom (1, Insightful)

garutnivore (970623) | about a year ago | (#45100175)

A very interesting piece of info is at the bottom of TFA:

since readers were allowed to make comments without registering their names, the identity of the authors would have been extremely difficult to establish. Making Delfi legally responsible for the comments was therefore practical, said the court. It was also reasonable, because the news portal received commercial benefit from comments being made.

(Bold added by me.)

Thanks for bringing this up. Their rationale for holding Delfi responsible is the same damn rationale that cheerleaders for the police state everywhere bring up, every single time. Doing the right thing would have been too hard. See, if they actually had done the right thing, they would have had to actually spend substantial effort at unmasking who actually posted anonymously. So they decided to just peg the act on a convenient actor.

Look inward. (1)

Stumbles (602007) | about a year ago | (#45100039)

The EU needs to fine itself for being idiots and then disband.

Re:Look inward. (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about a year ago | (#45100093)

The EU needs to fine itself for being idiots and then disband.

Even were this done, it would have nothing to do with the events here. The ruling is by the European Court of Human Rights, which is not an EU institution (Slashdot''s mistake in putting "EU court" in the headline notwithstanding).

Personal responsibility, how does it work? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#45100077)

Oh right, it's Europe, so you're not personally responsible, you can socialize the risk.

Re:Personal responsibility, how does it work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100131)

Oh right, it's Europe, so you're not personally responsible, you can socialize the risk.

Ah, you took the american approach. Jump right in and comment, guns blazing, without bothering to look beyond the misleading summary.

For freedom!

it gets worse (1)

mexsudo (2905137) | about a year ago | (#45100105)

This sounds terrible... But it gets worse, also look at it this way: this is yet another way to tailor the news if the news provider can be penalized for reporting the news ... "The E.U. court decided that it was proportionate because, given the nature of the article, Delfi should have expected offensive posts ..." consider the source

An apology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100107)

On behalf of Slashdot and Dice Holdings, I'd like to apologise to anyone offended by my comments over the years. And I hereby utterly refute any claim I may have made that you almost certainly raped and murdered a young woman in 1986.

I'm sorry.

Europe's problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100125)

This is a bit like holding a bar responsible for any anonymous comments by their patrons. It's yet another reason I'm glad I don't live in an EU country.

Keep on mind that the European elite remains almost feudal in its attitude toward ordinary people. It doesn't believe that free speech and a free press is for everyone, just for themselves. That's why when radio came along, they simply knew it had to be a government monopoly. Television followed radio, but they weren't quite prepared for this mostly American invention, the Internet. That's why it has to be reigned in.

It also explains a lot of the illogic in their laws. Nazi literature is banned in Germany but not Marxist literature, although communism has killed more people. Today's German elites want to pretend they never supported (contra Who Voted for Hitler). They still aren't to the point where they're willing to admit that their similar support for Marxist ideas was wrong.

Inaccurate Summary (1)

Kat M. (2602097) | about a year ago | (#45100129)

This is a horrible summary (or more precisely, the first sentence of it is). First of all, the judgement in the case Delfi AS v. Estiona was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights, which is not a court of the European Union, but exists to adjudicate the European Convention on Human Rights, and violations thereof. Almost all European Countries, including the non-EU ones, are signatories to the convention and thus have agreed to abide by the court's judgement. But that's just international law, not EU law (though the EU also requires accession to the ECHR for membership).

Second, the court did not rule that a website is legally responsible for the statements its users make. The court does not even have the power to make this determination. It only ruled that the national law of Estonia, which under certain circumstances allowed websites to be held liable for what their users said, as applied in this case, was not a disproportionate response incompatible with article 10 of the ECHR (freedom of expression, a.k.a. freedom of speech).

The press release summarizing the judgement is here [coe.int] . The judgement itself appears to not be online yet.

Government to Citizens: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100171)

Shut up and eat your Big Macs.

Fuck Freedom of the Press Hell Yeah (1)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#45100177)

What I've said to the admins and owners of intensely partisan websites for years is that lieu of fanatically deleting comments they don't like and banning readers just because they disagree with them - why not put all their comments behind a paywall? That way only the nutcases they love would be sufficiently motivated to pay them for the 'freedom' to a be nutcase with all their other nutcases and the nutcases are less likely to stumble across someone who butthurts their delicate sensibilities at all.

Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45100183)

The new California

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