Delfi Gets Big Backers in Push to Overturn ECHR Decision on Online Comments
Close to 70 media outlets, Internet service providers and NGOs around Europe are calling for a review of last fall's European Court of Human Rights decision that held an Estonian news website operator liable for reader comments.
Under the October 2013 decision in the case of Delfi vs. Estonia, site operators are responsible for the content of comments even if they employ a notice-and-take-down scheme. Delfi is now appealing to the ECHR's Grand Chamber.
The petition signed by media companies and NGOs says it is a blow to freedom of online speech, uudised.err.ee reported based on a Helsingin Sanomat story. Among the supporters of the petition to review the case are major media companies such as Google, Forbes, The New York Times, Bloomberg News, Guardian News and Media, Sanoma Media Netherlands and NGOs such as Greenpeace.
The Delfi case stemmed from an incident where Estonian ferry businessman Vjatšeslav Leedo sued Delfi over comments he said were defamatory. Leedo has long held a monopoly on the passenger lines connecting the islands to the mainland and is a favorite target of abuse from disaffected readers, which in the Estonian courts' opinion went too far in this case. The Estonian Supreme Court upheld the decision of the district court which ordered Delfi to pay 320 euros in damages, although the comments were deleted on the same day.