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Case Analysis of Laurence Godfrey v. Demon Internet Limited
By Yaman Akdeniz,
CyberLaw Research Unit, Faculty of Law, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT.
Copyright © 1999 Yaman Akdeniz
Published in (1999) Journal of Civil Liberties, 4(2), 260-267 (July).
Please cite as: Akdeniz, Y., Case Analysis: Laurence Godfrey v. Demon Internet Limited, (1999) Journal of Civil Liberties, 4(2), 260-267 (July).
The case citation is: Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd, QBD,  4 All ER 342,  3 WLR 1020;  QB 201 (full decision provided)
The case of Laurence Godfrey v. Demon Internet Limited (1) involves the first judicial decision within England and Wales which concerns a defamatory statement made via e-mail through an Internet Usenet discussion group. (2) The case is also the first one to take into account the liability of an Internet Service Provider under section 1 of the recently enacted Defamation Act 1996.
Dr Laurence Godfrey is a lecturer in physics, mathematics and computer science based in London. The Defendant, Demon Internet, is one of the major Internet Service Providers ("ISPs") within the United Kingdom.
On 13 January, 1997, a posting in the USA was made to an Internet newsgroup "soc.culture.thai" (3) which Demon Internet carries and stores through an unknown source. The message was traced back to a forged message which made it appear that it came from the Plaintiff in the case.
On 17 January, 1997, the Plaintiff sent a letter by "fax" to Demon Internet informing the Defendants that the posting was a forgery, and that he was not responsible for its posting via e-mail and requested the Defendants to remove the posting from Demon Internet's Usenet news server as it was defamatory of him. (4)
The defamatory... [continues]
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