European Court of Human Rights Rules Against Delfi in Online Comments Case

Source: Photo: ERR

The court in Strasbourg today backed a Estonian Supreme Court decision to award ferry company owner Vjatšeslav Leedo damages from online outlet Delfi, which published damaging reader comments.

Delfi issued a complaint to the Court of Human Rights in 2010, after the Supreme Court ruled that the online outlet is responsible for the comments, not the commenters themselves. Leedo was awarded only 320 euros.

A lower level court initially ruled that 20 published comments, which concerned a 2006 news piece about how Leedo's ferry company had destroyed planned ice road routes, were 'vulgar, degrading and threatening in nature.'

The court found that Delfi should not have allowed comments clearly violating the law to be published, or should have deleted them as soon as they were noticed.

In a more recent case, two commenters received suspended sentences from Tartu County Court for insulting a senior judge, while the outlet was not held liable.

For the full report of the verdict (in pdf format), click here.

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