Precedent on defamation on the Internet
On November 12, 2019, the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court set a significant precedent in bringing electronic media to bear responsibility for disseminating inaccurate information.
Please note that before the abovementioned precedent decision it was practically impossible to hold electronic publications liable (including due to registration of their owners outside Ukraine).
Note: Please note that the decision of the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court is a landmark case and is binding on all lower courts.
As part of the information provided about the novelties in resolving this contentious situation, please take into account the following information.
On 12 November 2019, in economic case No. 904/4494/18, the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court determined who was the appropriate respondent in the event of the dissemination of the disputed information to the Internet.
Brief Summary of the Dispute
The plaintiff applied to the court with a demand to the TV channel to refute the false information and to collect moral damages for dissemination of such information.
The Grand Chamber indicated that the relevant respondent in the event of the dissemination of the disputed information on the Internet was the author of the relevant information material and the owner of the website, whose persons the plaintiff must identify and indicate in the statement of claim.
If the author of the disseminated information is unknown or their person or residence (location) cannot be identified, as well as when the information is anonymous and access to the website is free, the appropriate respondent is the owner of the website where the said information material is posted, as it was them who created the technological possibility and conditions for the dissemination of inaccurate information.
According to Art. 1 of the Law “On Copyright and Related Rights” the owner of the website is the person who owns the account and establishes the terms and conditions of its use.
In accordance with Part 11 of Article 52-1 of the Law “On Copyright and Related Rights” website owners and hosting service providers, except for individuals who are not business entities, are obliged to post in free access on their own websites and (or) in public databases of domain name records (WHOIS) the following real information about themselves:
- full name of the website owner and hosting service provider;
- the full residence or location of the website owner and hosting provider;
- contact information of the website owner and the hosting provider, including e-mail address, phone number where they can be contacted promptly.
Conclusion: the above decision of the BCSCU provides a real opportunity to effectively sue and prosecute the electronic media.
The data about the website owner may be required in accordance with the provisions of procedural legislation from the administrator of the domain name registration and accounting system and the address of the Ukrainian segment of the Internet.
In particular, a request for information about the owner of the site may be made to: