Friday, March 28, 2008

In France, link aggregators are held responsible for content!

So, in Martinez vs Fuzz, the suitor won the first leg. Fuzz's webmaster Eric Dupin has been condemned to a fee of 1,000 Euros for relaying a link that infringed Mr Martinez's privacy. What to make of it?

Well, it clarifies the notion of responsibility for web publishers: they are responsible for all content that can be found on their sites, including indirect content, i.e. links to content maintained on other sites. Or does it really? It seems to define a sort of holistic responsibility: what if the content is a link to a site that contains a link to incriminated content? Would that qualify as litigeous content? For instance, could be held responsible for providing a short url to replace one subject to sueing?

The second aspect which has not been considered in this regrettable affair is the intent of web publisher. Was it or not to do harm by publishing squander? In this paarticular case I know it was not, because, as an aggregator of content provided by users, Eric did not know everything that was published on his site.

The third aspect is about what harm was actually done to the plaintiff? To my knowledge, very little, apart from putting on the news front the name of an actor that a lot of people did not know. Furthermore, reported that Mr Martinez's lawyer refuted the rumor in a statement right after the publication of the judgement condemning Eric. Why wasn't that statement made in the first place prior to any sueing? Why didn't Mr Martinez or his lawyer contacted Eric for a settlement outside the court again prior to sueing? Was there a hidden agenda (like earning a bit of easy money...)?

We will watch the upcoming developments of this unfortunate affair, which has the potential to harm free speech on the web in the French blogosphere durably.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Internet as a Gold Mine for serial law suiters!

Soutenons le Presse-Citron !

Recommandé par des Influenceurs

I cannot remain silent when some people threaten to undermine freedom of information on the Internet. The story so far: Eric, Press-Citron (Lemon Squeezing) blogger whom I follow regularly, also publishes a web site that contains RSS links that are compiled in an automated way.

He is being sued, because one link happened to connect to a dubious rumor implicating a not so famous French actor. So Eric has to defend the fact that he relayed some rumor, although he did not write the incriminated content.

Now we discover that that person is systematically suing web site owners who helped propagate the rumor. All web sites? Not by far, since neither Google, nor Yahoo! and other big integrators are sued...

The blogsphere in France is mobilised to support fellow Eric against Internet predators who seem to think that systematic suing could get them some easy money.

Cheer up, Eric. We support you!

PS: Latest news: the verdict will be known on March 26th.