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Blogger convicted for user’s defamatory comments

The court of Varese (Italy) held that a blogger was liable of the defamation crime because of the comments published by some of her users on a forum available on her blog since as administrator of the blog she had the “availability” of the website which triggered a liability for both the contents published by her and by third parties.¬†

This decision will lead to several discussions as you may remember that the Italian Court of Cassation (i.e. our Supreme Court) had taken a completely different view in the past. And it is interesting that the court held the defendant liable regardless of whether or not the contents published on the site had been filtered (i.e. had to be pre-apporoved by the administrator) or there was no prior filtering to their publication.

It is also interesting that the court did not qualify the blog/forum as press material which under Italian law triggers an editor’s liability for all published contents, but as a “tool of communication among people” with the aggaviating circumstance of the occurance of the communication through advertising means.
Finally it is good to stress that according to the court decision, the presence of Ts&Cs or regulations of the site which prescribed the users’ exclusive liability for their comments was not relevant since such type of agreements do not exclude criminal liabilities i.e. the authors of the comments could be deemed contributory liable for the crime, but their liability operated in addition to the administrator’s liability.
We will see the reactions to this decision but in the meantime if you want to discuss the above, feel free to contact me, Giulio Coraggio (giulio.coraggio@dlapiper.com).