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VIC Forums and Internet Opinions?

Discussion in 'Defamation Law Forum' started by Brad4623, 19 February 2015.

  1. Brad4623

    Brad4623 Member

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    Hi guys. It's my first time posting here, please be gentle :)
    I'm a business owner and have a great business. Happy doing what I do. But with the wonderful world of the internet opinions can easily be voiced. As a business owner I'm happy to listen & read criticism, how else do we mend our mistakes & grow? Any business will tell you that there are those that you will never make happy & it's where I draw my question from.
    I have an issue with a forum in particular where it allows it's members to post slander & defamatory posts. The moderators are happy to sit back & watch & not act. The owner of the forum does even less. It got to the point where I was receiving abusive private messages, which were sent to the moderators & site owner. The individual informed the forum he planned to leave. Which actually received comments of encouragement to stay from the moderators.
    My questions are:
    • What laws apply to forum site owners in regards to defamation, slander & harassment?
    • Can individuals be open to legal action?
    • As a business, is there any action legally that I can take to have such action ceased?
    Thanks, hopefully someone has some good news. This harassment has gone on for 2 years, it's time it stopped.
     
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Brad,

    Firstly there is an article on this website about defamation that may be a useful starting point for you: Have You Been Defamed? What You Need to Know About Defamation Law in Australia - LawAnswers.com.au Blog

    Secondly, defamation is "causing harm to a person's reputation by publishing material about them that changes the way people feel about them" (from the Victorian Legal Aid website): Defamation | Victoria Legal Aid The Victorian Legal Aid webpage I linked has a list of contacts for you.

    I know that in the ACT, "publish" is defined broadly and includes verbal communication in front of at least one other person. In your case, the material has been published on the internet so you wouldn't have difficulty showing the publish element.

    As far as whether the forum moderator and owner is liable for defamation, you should check with a solicitor. I personally believe that you may have a case against them if they are responsible for publishing the material. This webpage here seems to support my suggestion: When are words defamatory? Further evidence to support my suggestion is that an Australian man won a defamation case against Google for images of him published online: Australian man wins defamation case against Google over images published online

    You can find defamation legislation in Victoria here: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/da200599/

    You might also want to see John R's response to another online defamation forum question: Can I sue for defamation on Facebook? | LawAnswers.com.au Legal Aid Forums

    In sum, you may have a case against both the person who wrote the defamatory content as well as the forum publishers.

    In regards to your third question, was the defamatory material about you personally or your business?
     
  3. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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  4. Brad4623

    Brad4623 Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply. There's a lot to read through there. Thanks for that information.
    The comments that have been made have been on a personal & business level.
     
  5. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Brad4623,
    Following on from @Ivy's comments, it is important to note that if your business has less than 10 employees, the business can also generally sue for defamation under the Uniform Defamation Law in Australia.

    As a starting point, you (or, ideally your lawyer) may consider drafting and sending a Concerns Notice to the Forum Operator. A Concerns Notice is a written letter/notice that sets out:
    1. who you are;
    2. what you consider to be the relevant defamatory material;
    3. why you consider the relevant defamatory material to be defamatory; and
    4. what you would like the forum operator to do (e.g. delete the defamatory thread, post, etc.) by a set date.
    Hope this helps. Please keep us updated with your progress.
     

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