U.K.'s Demon Settles Libel Suits Out of Court

LONDON (03/31/2000) - Thus PLC announced yesterday that it has reached an out of court settlement with Dr. Laurence Godfrey, who was suing the company's Internet service provider (ISP) subsidiary Demon Internet for libel.

A spokeswoman for Demon confirmed that the company has paid 15,000 pounds (US$24,000) in damages to Godfrey, saying that the legal costs will be decided by the court at a later date.

Local newspaper reports have estimated the legal costs of both parties, which Demon will have to pay, at over 480,000 pounds.

"Concluding this matter in a reasonable way is in the best interests of the company and its customers," said Thus in a written statement.

The events resulting in the legal action began over three years ago, in January 1997. At that time, a message was posted to a news group carried by Demon's servers that was attributed to Godfrey, as well as defaming him. After his requests that the post be removed went unanswered, Godfrey sued Demon.

Again, in 1998 another message defaming Godfrey was posted, and again, after removal requests went unheeded, Godfrey filed a second suit.

Demon responded to both suits by denying that it was its responsibility to remove messages posted by users.

In March of last year, a judge in London's High Court ruled that Demon was responsible for information posted to and made available from news groups on its service, a ruling which Demon appealed. See "U.K. Court Says ISPs Liable for Newsgroup Content," Mar. 30, 1999.]Thus, formerly called ScottishTelecom, "will press the Government for recognition that ISPs should not be liable for the millions of items carried on the Internet every day," the company said in a statement.

Demon Internet, in London, can be reached at +44-845-272-0666, or on the Web at http://www.demon.net/.

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