Wednesday 13 March 2013

Defamation on the Internet - Notifying Website Hosts of Defamation

If you find that your name has been defamed on a popular website such as Amazon or Trip Advisor you might want to complain about the defamation, either by using the website’s set complaint procedure or by creating your own independent version of complaint.

If you consider taking your complaint about the defamation any further, should it not be removed immediately, you will want to ensure that your complaint is treated as sufficient legal notification to the website owners about the defamation you suffer.

A court will vigorously assess your attempts to facilitate the removal of the defamation prior to issuing legal proceedings and if the court considers that you did not take sufficient steps, it might refuse to accept that the website owners are guilty of defamation against you.

There are two methods by which you can sufficiently notify the owners of a website about your complaint regarding defamation.

The first is by following the website’s own complaint reporting process and the second is by writing your own complaint letter.  Whichever method you choose, it is important that you are able to prove the precise date and time where the website owner was first notified.

So what information should go into a defamation complaint letter?  Whether you follow the website’s procedure or create your own letter.

1.      Clearly set out your name and address.

2.      Give clear detail about the nature of the information in question.

3.      List in sufficient detail why the information is unlawful and if it is defamatory – why it is defamatory.

The above 3 elements of your complaint are the bare minimum you should include. 

In certain cases such as with websites like Amazon and Youtube you might be encouraged to use the website’s own specific complaints procedure.  You are under no obligation to follow the website's own complaint procedure but you might find it useful to do so as this will ensure that your complaint does arrive at the right place.

Always make sure that you keep good copies of any forms that you submit and of any responses that you receive from the website’s owners.

For advice on similar issues to the above read our webpage removal blog at the Internet Law Centre.
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