‘The operator of the Australian discussion forum ZGeek has been named as a defendant in a defamation suit for material posted by ZGeek users to a thread about a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Another forum is apparently also named as a defendant in the claim.
The plaintiffs are apparently seeking $42 Million in consequential damages, claiming that they lost a film deal as a result of criticism of the conspiracy theory in the discussion fora.
What makes this claim stranger is that the owner of the site states that he complied with earlier takedown notices sent by the plaintiffs’ lawyers about the alleged defamatory material.
These types of claims are very worrying for the high levels of uncertainty that they impose on forum operators. In the US, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act essentially immunises forum operators from defamation claims like this one, but no such strong protection exists in Australia. This lack of certainty effectively provides an incentive for those who feel aggrieved by posts on a public forum to seek damages against the operators of the forum, even where the operators have complied by removing the allegedly defamatory material.’