Digital Music News object to Jay-Z’s legal claims
Defamation , Live Events / January 2018

DEFAMATION Live events sector   Digital Music News are not happy with Jay-Z,  aka Sean Carter, or more specifically his lawyers, Cummings & Lockwood LLC, who they have said threatened them “with ridiculous legal claims” over coverage of poor ticket sales on “Jay-Z’s disastrous ‘4:44’ tour” which Digital Music News described as a “sinking tour” The threats stemmed from an article DMN wrote about the availability of $6 tickets for a 4:44 show in Anaheim, CA, where DMN say they “discovered entire sections of unsold inventory across Anaheim and other upcoming tour dates” and that there was even a show cancelled in Fresno, CA “just days before showtime.” The article prompted a letter from Cummings & Lockwood LLC  (which DMN have reproduced in full) which included the assertion that: Both the headline and content of this article is false.  I am attaching a link for a billboard article which contains more accurate facts regarding 4:44 tour sales. And  We demand that you correct your story both in tone and content immediately.  We trust that now that you have correct facts you will not allow your errors to continue.  As I am sure you are aware knowledge of a story being false…

Frank Ocean defeats estranged Father’s libel lawsuit
Artists , Defamation / November 2017

DEFAMATION Artists   Frank Ocean is riding the wave of success after he was successful in defending a $14.5 million libel lawsuit that was filed against the singer/ songwriter by his estranged father.  The lawsuit revolved around a Tumblr post written by Frank Ocean in the aftermath of the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year, the post, which is still live, read:  “I was six years old when I heard my dad call our transgender waitress a faggot as he dragged me out a neighbourhood diner saying we wouldn’t be served because she was dirty.  That was the last afternoon I saw my father and the first time I heard that word, I think, although it wouldn’t shock me if it wasn’t”. Calvin Cooksey, Frank’s father, claimed that the incident did not take place and accused his son of staging a “publicity stunt in the wake of the Orlando attack … [and] us[ing] his father as an instrument for personal connection in order to sell records”. Cooksey then went on to sue for libel.  In response, Ocean stated seventeen ‘affirmative defences’ which he claimed should exemplify why his father’s lawsuit should be rejected. Cooksey attempted to have…

Defamation case against Kesha’s former lawyer has been given the go ahead
Artists , Defamation / May 2017

DEFAMATION Artistes   Mark Geragos, the former lawyer for Kesha, who acted for the pop star in her legal battle against the producer Dr Luke, is now on the receiving end of legal action from the producer’s lawyers.    A New York judge has blocked efforts by Geragos to have the defamation case filed by Dr Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) dismissed. The case revolves around comments the ‘celebrity lawyer’ made on Twitter and the website TMZ. Set against a myriad of cross allegations, primarily made against producer Dr Luke where the singer says the producer manipulated her career and sexually abused her, in an unsuccessful attempt to free herself from record and publishing contracts with Dr Luke’s label and Sony, Geragos being the wise lawyer that he is, tweeted “Guess who the rapist was?” with a link to an article with Lady Gaga, who  explained in an interview that she had once been subject to a sexual assault. When subsequently asked on twitter if he meant Dr Luke, he tweeted “#bingo”. Later the lawyer told TMZ he said this “because it’s true”.    Geragos argued that neither his tweets nor the TMZ comments should be taken seriously and had sought to have…

Bono and Larry must compensate libelled promoter
Defamation , Live Events / January 2017

DEFAMATION Live events sector   U2 vocalist Bono and drummer Larry Mullens have been ordered to pay damages to a Brazilian promoter for wrongly claiming that they were not paid for three shows in 1998. The Court of Justice of Santa Catalina ruled that the musicians must pay Franco Bruni R$1.5m (US$441,000) in “material and moral damages” for remarks made in a 2000 O Globo interview, in which Bono and Mullens alleged they had not been paid for their PopMart concerts in Brazil two years before. The Court found it was in fact collection society ECAD (Escritório Central de Arrecadação e Distribuição)  that hadn’t paid out, and that Bruni had paid the band an advance of US$8m. Bono and Mullens later retracted their remarks. Judge Joel Figueira found the newspaper, and the journalist who had written the piece, were not liable for any damages, as they simply “reproduced the comments by the band members”. The amount of compensation for which Bono and Mullens will be liable (“with due corrections”) is expected to total R$5m ($1.48m). Wikipedia reports that in 2012, fifteen ECAD officials were indicted after an investigation by the Brazilian Senate found that some at ECAD had allegedly taken money intended…

Horan libel case proceeds in the right direction
Artists , Defamation , Music Publishing / January 2016

DEFAMATION Artistes, publishing   A libel case brought by One Direction’s Niall Horan against the Daily Star will proceed, after a judge refused the tabloid’s request to have the case dismissed. The case centres on an allegation made in an article in July 2015 that implied Horan had used drugs during a night out with Justin Bieber and Cody Simpson. Horan’s legal team have claimed that claims their client was “staring blankly” and that there were “rumours the singers were using hard drugs”, coupled with some ‘Breaking Bad’ references, made it very clear what the Star was alleging. The newspaper has countered by saying that there is enough doubt its story – at one point stating of hard drug use that “there is no suggestion that this is the case”  that readers would not have interpreted the article in the defamatory way that Horan claims. Mr Justice Dingemans said that the tabloid’s piece was at least capable of bearing the defamatory meaning that Horan claims. Therefore, he said, this case should proceed to a full hearing, and the Star’s application for dismissal was rejected.

Dr Luke sues Kesha’s lawyer for defamation over Lady Gaga rape claims
Artists , Defamation / January 2015

DEFAMATION Artistes   Dr Luke has filed a defamation lawsuit against Mark Geragos, the lawyer representing Kesha in her lawsuit against him. Kesha has made a number of serious allegations against pop producer Dr Luke, (real name Lukasz Gottwald) whose label and music publishing company she signed to aged eighteen. The singer says Gottwald forced her to “take drugs and alcohol in order to take advantage of her sexually while she was intoxicated”. The claims appear in a lawsuit filed by Kesha against Gottwald in the LA courts, which also accuses the producer of rape, and of creating an environment that led to the singer suffering from bulimia. Gottwald denies the allegations and has counter-sued. Meanwhile, earlier this month Lady Gaga told Howard Stern in an interview that she had been raped when she was nineteen, though did not identify the perpetrator. Geragos later tweeted a link to an E! Online report on the interview with the question, “Guess who the rapist was?” When one fan replied “Lukasz”, Geragos responded in a since deleted tweet, “#Bingo”. Gaga has denied that the accusation is true and had previously said: “This ridiculous, manufactured link between Lady Gaga and the Kesha/Dr Luke lawsuit…

Pras sues New York Post over cancelled benefit gig allegation
Artists , Defamation / November 2014

DEFAMATION Artistes   One time Fugee Pras Michael is planning to  issue proceedings against the New York Post after the newspaper accused Pras of bailing on a “9/11 benefit concert” organised by his own charity, the Hope For Them Foundation. The article also apparently claimed that the Foundation had bounced a cheque to the venue, had falsely claimed its event was sponsored by MTV, and isn’t properly registered as a charity with state officials. But it seems the newspaper has added to the confusion as the benefit, whilst on the 11th September, was not actually a benefit related to the attack on the Twin Towers. Lawyers for Pras have also said he was not a board member for Hope For Them Foundation and the charity itself said “Pras is a good friend of the organisation and supports our cause but is NOT a board member”. A claim for $30 million in damages will be filed.

Sir Elton fails in challenge with Times over tax claims
Artists , Defamation / November 2012

DEFAMATION Artistes   The High Court in London has rejected a libel claim brought by Sir Elton John against the Times newspaper after he was mentioned in one of the broadsheet’s tax avoidance exposés earlier in 2012. The singer’s financial affairs were referenced in a June report into the legal but arguably unethical schemes employed by some of the rich and famous to avoid paying taxes but the article also claimed, incorrectly, that John had engaged the services of the chief of Ingenious Media, Patrick McKenna, to work as his accountant in regards to a tax avoidance scheme. The next day the paper issued clarification that McKenna had never acted as John’s accountant, and the following month issued a second clarification stating that Ingenious had never offered to move money offshore for the singer. John sued The Times for defamation, claiming that the articles were “severely damaging” to his reputation and charity work. However, Mr Justice Tugendhat disagreed, ruling that, contrary to Sir Elton’s claims, he does not believe that the average Times reader would have inferred that the singer was, or was reasonably believed to be, involved in tax avoidance from the broadsheet’s report saying that “the words complained…

Tata family seek to ban Bollywood film
Defamation , Music Publishing / November 2012

DEFAMATION Film and television, music publishing   Two of India’s richest families lave launched a legal action against one of Bollywood’s leading film directors in an attempt to block the release of a new film which is a ‘searing attack’ them an a devastating critique of India’s rich elite. Tata Sons, part of the Tata Group, has confirmed it had filed a lawsuit against a song contained in Chakravyuh, featured in the thriller directed by Prakash Jha. The song accuses Indian billionaires of unbridled corruption and “robbing the pockets of the poor”.  A second lawsuit has been filed by the Birla family which controls a business empire spanning insurance, cement, metals and machine tools. A third lawsuit has been filed by Bata, India’s biggest show company, also seeking an injunction against the song Mehangai. A fourth family named in the song, the Ambanis, have yet to file a complaint. The Times  19th October 2012

Morrissey and NME settle over racist claim
Artists , Defamation / July 2012

DEFAMATION Artistes IPC, publisher of the NME and Morrissey have announced they are settling their recent legal dispute. Morrisey was suing the publisher and then editor of NME Connor McNicholas over an interview the music weekly ran with him back in 2007 in which the singer appeared to say that an “immigration explosion” had damaged Britain’s identity. Morrissey immediately hit out at the magazine and its then editor Conor McNicholas, arguing they had twisted his words to make him look racist, so that the interview would be more sensational and sell more copies. The NME always denied any such editorial meddling. In November last year Mr Justice Tugendhat allowed the case to proceed despite a four year delay. The NME have now published an apology for the ‘misunderstanding’ which reads “In December 2007, we published an article entitled ‘Morrissey: Big mouth strikes again’. Following this, Morrissey began proceedings for libel against us. His complaint is that we accused him of being a racist off the back of an interview which he gave to the magazine. He believes the article was edited in such a way that made him seem reactionary”. The apology continues: “We wish to make clear that we do…

Morrissey’s battle with the NME approaches
Artists , Defamation / June 2012

DEFAMATION Artistes   A July date for Morrissey’s High Court action against the New Musical Express has been set for  July 16th to the 19th – although his tour dates in Athens and Istanbul on July 16th and July have Not been cancelled which seems a tad odd. . Fans hoping to show support for Morrissey have been encouraged to “make their presence known outside the High Court in London on these dates.” The former Smith’s frontman is suing the NME over an interview published November 28, 2007 that the singer claims was defamatory and portrayed him as racist. The singer claims the magazine and its then editor Connor McNicholas doctored his words and fabricated material.  His website True to You notes that the magazine proposed a formal apology on its website (and not in print), but that Morrissey rejected the offer “as disproportionate to the damage done to Morrissey by the NME magazine itself.”

Morrissey wins right to sue NME for libel
Artists , Defamation / November 2011

DEFAMATION Artistes Morrissey has won the right to let a jury decide if the NME portrayed him as a ‘racist and blatant hypocrite’ four years ago The former Smiths frontman was granted his wish for the libel case to be heard after he won at a pre-trial hearing against Conor McNicholas, the former NME editor, and the magazine’s publisher, IPC Media, in the High Court. In a written judgment, Mr Justice Tugendhat said: “Overall, in my judgment a proper balance between the Article 10 right of freedom of expression of [the NME] and Mr Morrissey’s right to the protection of his individual reputation requires, in the circumstances of this case, that the action be permitted to proceed.” The magazine had resisted the trial on the basis that the delay in brining proceedings showed that the singer was “not really interested” but after the hearing an NME spokeswoman said: “NME recently sought to strike out Morrissey’s claim on grounds of a lengthy delay. After almost four years, we are glad that the matter will now proceed to trial and we will finally get the opportunity to bring this matter to a close.” Mr Justice Tugendhat said that Morrissey’s explanation of why it…

Liam sues Noel – definitely – maybe … maybe not
Defamation / September 2011

DEFAMATION Artists Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher is suing his brother for libel over recent comments Noel made about the reasons behind their band’s split in 2009 when Noel said that the siblings had fallen out because his brother wanted to place advertisements for his clothing company, Pretty Green, in their tour programme. He also claimed that Liam had forced the band to pull out of a headline slot at V Festival’s Chelmsford leg that year because he had a hangover. Liam says it was due to a sudden bout of laryngitis. In a statement issued on Friday, Liam said: “I have taken legal action against Noel Gallagher for statements he made during the Electric Cinema press conference on 6 Jul during which he claimed Oasis pulled out of the 2009 V Festival Chelmsford gig because I had a hangover. That is a lie and I want Oasis fans, and others who were at V, to know the truth” adding “Noel also falsely stated that the demise of Oasis followed a massive row in which he claimed I demanded to advertise my clothing range Pretty Green in the Oasis tour programme. The truth is there was no such discussion or row…

Love’s Twitter rant costs her $430,000
Artists , Defamation , Internet / April 2011

DEFAMATION Artists, broadcasting, internet Fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir claim against Courtney Love over the Loves’s libellous rantings on Twitter has been settled out of court. Simorangkir sued Love over a series of tweets posted in 2009 in which the singer called the designer an “asswipe nasty lying hosebag thief” after the pair fell out over a $4000 clothing bill.  Love had said her comments were merely opinions and not intended as statements of fact, while also arguing there was no tangible proof that the tweets had caused Simorangkir any actual financial loss. The case was due to go to ourt in January but the hearing was postponed after out of court negotiations began. A settlement was reached with Love agreeing to pay Simorangkir $430,000 in damages over the next three years.  Love’s attorney James Janowitz told The Reporter he was also pleased with the deal, adding that Simorangkir had originally asked for substantially more in damages, and that the final figure agreed gave her team “bragging rights” but nothing else. Asked whether his client would be using Twitter in the future, Janowitz said: “I don’t think she’s using it any more. But I could be wrong”.

Artists U2’s Mullens loses defamation case

DEFAMATION Live events industry, publishing It seems U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr has lost a defamation lawsuit pursued against him, Bono and a Rio-based newspaper by Brazilian concert promoter Franco Bruni.  The litigation related to a U2 interview in Brazil’s O Globo newspaper back in 2000 where it seems  Mullen Jr claimed the band had not been paid for three concerts that were promoted by Bruni in 1998. Bruni countered that he had paid the band their performance fees, and all that remained ‘unpaid’ was publishing (eg PRS) royalties, which, the promoter claimed, was out of his hands to pass over to the band.  In the ruling Bono was found not to be liable, but Mullen Jr, the journalist who wrote the interview and O Globo were all found liable. They were ordered to pay Bruni 800,000 Brazilian real (about $480,000).

Love’s twitter defamation case to go to court
Artists , Defamation / February 2011

DEFAMATION Artists Fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir is continuing with a defamation case against Courtney Love after the Hole frontwoman launched a tirade against her on Twitter and various other social networks in March 2009. Amongst other things, Love accused Simorangkir of prostitution, drug dealing, assault and stealing from her. It appears that the accusations came after the designer demanded payment for several thousand dollars worth of clothing. Love claims that all the accusations she made were based on things told to her directly by Simorangkir, though the designer denies this. Simorangkir’s legal team will argue that Love’s rant, coupled with their client’s status as a fashion icon and trendsetter, caused significant damage to the designer’s career, entitling her to millions of dollars in compensation. Love’s attorney, James Janowitz, told the Hollywood that he is confident his team can win the case, saying: “We don’t believe there’s any defamation, and even if there were defamatory statements, there was no damage”. Love herself has said she will now close all of her social media accounts. The case, due to begin in January, is now scheduled to start on 8th February after a mandatory settlement conference.

UK Coalition government looks to reform UK’s ‘farcical’ defamation laws
Artists , Defamation / February 2011

DEFAMATION Artists, broadcasters The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has outlined plans to reform the UK’s libel laws, branding the current legislation an “international farce”. In a speech at the Institute for Government, Clegg announced the details of a draft Defamation Bill, due in Spring, which will include a new statutory defence for those speaking out in the public interest, “whether they be big broadcasters or the humble blogger”. He said the government also intends to clarify the law surrounding existing defences of fair comment and justification saying “We intend to provide a new statutory defence for those speaking out in the public interest” (for example doctors and scientists) “and to clarify the law around the existing defences of fair comment and justification.” And he also wants large corporations to show they have suffered substantial damage before they sue individuals and non-governmental organisations. Clegg said “My party spent years campaigning against the erosion of our civil liberties under Labour and now, in government, we are going to turn a page on that chapter; resurrecting the liberties we have lost; embarking on a mission to restore our great British freedoms. Clegg also addressed a number of issues raised by the…

Van sues over little Van story
Artists , Defamation / February 2010

DEFAMATION Artists Van Morrison has announced that he is launching legal action against the Mail On Sunday after the paper claimed the singer had recently fathered a child with an alleged business associate Gigi Lee. Contrary to what his own website announced, Van Morrison is apparently NOT the father of a newborn child. It seems hackers got into the Irish singer’s website and inserted the (admittedly rather amusing) story that 64-year old Van had sired a child called George Ivan Morrison III with Lee, named as his business manager,  who was not his long-term partner. John Saunders, a family friend, said that the singer had told him that hackers had taken over the website to make the announcement. A statement from Morrison released by Mr Saunders said that the claims made on his website were “completely and utterly without foundation”, adding that he was “very happily married to Michelle Morrison” and that he had asked his management team to carry out an “immediate investigation”. It’s all a bit of a muddle though with The Times reporting that twenty-four hours before the denial one of Morrison’s management team had said that he was the source of the statement, with Phil Lobel, who has worked as the…

Kanye’s camera crackdowncall
Artists , Defamation , Privacy / December 2008

PRIVACY / DEFAMATION Artists Kanye West has spoken out against the paparazzi after being arrested on Friday following his latest altercation with the snappers, this time in the UK. Following his arrest in LA last month after a run in with a photographer at the city’s Airport, this time West was taken in for questioning after causing a photographer’s nose to bleed in Newcastle. He wasn’t actually charged on either occasion. West wrote on his blog this weekend: “Who’s winning, me or the media? Regardless of how much light I put out, there are people working just as hard to only deliver darkness. If you listen to my music, how could I deliver so many positive uplifting messages and be the monster that the media paints? Paparazzi give real photographers a bad name”. Commenting specifically on the Newcastle fracas, he continued: “I put my hand up to the camera in self-defence! Here’s what happened…when I left the club, I was encountered by a thirsty paparazzi as usual. He felt he had more rights to my space than me, so I put my hand up to prevent him from taking my image. I didn’t assault him but merely putting my hand…

So Def chief Dupri and Daz Dillinger face defamation claim
Artists , Defamation , Record Labels / October 2008

DEFAMATION Record labels, artists So Def chief Jermaine Dupri is facing a defamation lawsuit because of the use of a recording of a private phone-call that appeared on Daz Dillinger album ‘So So Gangsta’ back in 2006. A woman called Aika Kendrick claims that the Dupri and Dillinger recorded a personal conversation with her and then used it as a background to the song ‘The One’, which is about an emotionally abusive relationship; the conversation ends with Dillinger launching a tirade of abuse at Kendrick. Kendrick says that as soon as she was aware that the call had been recorded she sent a cease-and-desist to Dupri’s label, but they ignored it, and adds that her inclusion on the album track has made her “the subject of embarrassment, humiliation, and degradation”. She’s seeking $250,000 in damages on the grounds of negligence, copyright infringement, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. CMU Daily 12 th September 2008

Online insults were slander not libel Smith v ADVFN & Others [2008] All ER (D) 335
Defamation , Internet / September 2008

DEFAMATION Internet Eady J has handed down a judgment in the case of warring bloggers although in light of the small number of members of the public exposed to the “mere vulgar abuse” to a fairly dim view of why the case was brought at all, staying proceedings. The High Court case was brought by Nigel Smith, also known by his online avatar “Anomalus”. Acting as the coordinator of an action group to recover shareholders investments from an alleged fraud, Smith had himself lambasted an individual known as “Wiganer” as a fraudster on the ADVFN Board and alleged that various others were falsely claiming compensation for the fraudulent losses. These allegations prompted comments from other shareholders and contributors to the discussion board in support of those who had been “threatened and bullied” by Smith. Smith requiring ADVFN to disclose the IP addresses of those concerned and the of the legal proceedings triggered more (allegedly) defamatory comment against Smith who – unemployed and thus unfettered by the requirement to pay court issue fees – issued 37 sets of proceedings! Of comments made on a discussion board, Eady J observed that they were (a) read by relatively few people, who share an…

High Court awards £22,000 for victim of Facebook slur
Defamation , Internet , Privacy / August 2008

DEFAMATION / PRIVACY Internet A fake Facebook site set up about businessman Mathew Firsht has resulted in an award of £22,000 in damages against instigator Grant Raphael, an estranged friend of Mr Firsht. Using real details about Mr Firsht Mt Raphael then put in false details about his sexual orientation and political beliefs ending with a company profile with was titled ‘Has Mathhew Firsht lied to you too?”. The High Court damages break down at £15,000 for libel against Mr Firsht, £2,000 for invasion of his privacy and £5,000 for libel against his company, Applause Store Productions.

Football fans may face claim
Defamation , Internet / November 2007

DEFAMATION Internet Disgruntled Sheffield Wednesday Football Club fans who vented their anger about club directors in acrimonious blogs may face defamation clams after the High Court ruled that the owner of a blog must reveal the identities of three fans who had made allegations of ‘greed, selfishness, untrustworthiness and dishonest behaviour’. Mere abuse or where the post was likely to be understood as a ‘joke’ was not enough and eight fans were allowed to retain their anonymity. In an earlier case in October a Sunderland property developer called John Finn admitted in court that he was the owner of a website which had criticised a rival firm, Gentoo on a website set up to campaign for father’s rights. The Guardian 22 October 2007 & see Music Law Updates April 2006 Liability for ISPs: Bunt v Tilly & Others

Court Holds That ISPs Are Not Liable For Objectionable User Content, Even When Criminal Laws Are Violated
Defamation , Internet / February 2007

DEFAMATION Internet ARTICLE LINK By Eric Sinrod Attorney Internet Service Providers (ISPs) naturally are concerned about circumstances under which they potentially could be liable for content posted by users. ISPs can breath a sigh of relief after a recent decision by a Texas federal judge who just dismissed an ISP as a defendant in the case of Doe v. Bates, even though the offending conduct at issue was alleged to be in violation of criminal law.

US Web site providers can take a deep breath!
Copyright , Defamation , Internet / January 2007

COPYRIGHT / DEFAMATION Internet ARTICLE LINK – The California Supreme Court has ruled that ISP’s are not legally responsible for content posted by third parties on their sites ( Barrett v Rosenthal ). Article by E J Sinrod at

60s pop star wins libel settlement
Artists , Defamation , Music Publishing / December 2006

DEFAMATION Artists, publishers Sixties pop star Frederick Gladstone, professionally known as Tony Rocco, has won a High Court settlement against author Jake Arnott and Publishers Hodder & Stoughton for libel. Were had performed under the stage name “Tony Rocco” since 1962 when he had had a hit single, Stalemate. Arnott (born 1961) wrote a novel, Johnny Come Home, which featured a character called “Tony Rocco” who was said to be a popular music manager famous for having had a hit single in the 1960s. The fictional Rocco was depicted as a sordid, predatory pederast who lusted after teenage boys. Arnott and the publisher have both apologised for the distress and embarrassment caused to Were and openly acknowledged that Gladstone was and is nothing like the fictional Rocco: The defendants confirmed that the character of Tony Rocco in the novel was not intended to depict Were or refer to him in any way. They undertook not to repeat the allegations and said they would attempt to recall all copies of the novel distributed so far. They also agreed to change the name of the character for all and any future reprints of the novel and to pay Were a substantial sum by way of damages,…

Jameel – a victory for responsible journalism
Defamation , Internet / November 2006

DEFAMATION Television, radio, magazines, internet ARTICLE :  by Catherine Fehler, solicitor, Michael Simkins LLP On 11 October 2006 the House of Lords, in a landmark ruling, unanimously overturned the decision of the High Court and Court of Appeal and allowed the defence of the Wall Street Journal Europe; effectively upholding the public interest defence in libel actions.  The decision represents an affirmation of the House of Lords’ decision in Reynolds v. Times NewspapersLimited in 2001 which was hailed as a victory for freedom of speech and investigative journalism, however until now had not provided a clear public interest protection from claims in libel. The offending article was published in the Wall Street Journal Europe and claimed that the Saudi Arabian authorities were monitoring bank accounts of prominent Saudis for evidence of supporting terrorism, knowingly or not, at the behest of the US Government. The article included the Abdul Latif Jameel Group as being on the list of monitored accounts.  The main company in that group,  and it’s president Mohammed Jameel,  sued for libel. The lower courts had allowed Jameel’s claim to succeed, taking a narrow interpretation of the Reynolds privilege defence.  But the Lords held that the Nicholls list in the Reynolds case,…

Liability for ISPs: Bunt v Tilly & Others
Defamation , Internet / April 2006

DEFAMATION Internet Five years ago Demon Internet had to settle a claim from Laurence Godfrey who was the subject to defamatory messages on Demon internet message boards which Demon failed to remove promptly when notified. But now AOL, BT and Tiscali have been cleared of any liability for defamation when they successfully applied to have a claim for libel struck out. The claim was over allegedly defamatory messages posted on the Usernet message boards but the court held that ISPs could not be held liable as publishers of defamatory material when their only involvement in the matter was to provide a service through which the defamatory statements were transmitted. However those who had rose tinted aspirations that the internet would be a public realm free of regulatory and legal intervention seem distant dreamers now. The Godfrey case is still good law and indeed those who post defamatory articles in chat rooms and on message boards are clearly liable for their actions in law. And publishers who publish defamatory articles are equally liable; from Gutnick v Dow Jones this seems to be on a multi-territory basis as the article is published ‘worldwide’ although recent cases have limited this to meaningful subscription bases where…

Kate Moss fails in bid to have recent allegations excluded from trial
Artists , Defamation / March 2006

DEFAMATION Artists Kate Moss has failed in a High Court attempt to block recent allegations of drug abuse being used in her forthcoming libel trial. Moss alleges that Channel 5 defamed her by saying that she had taken a ‘vast’ quantity of cocaine in Barcelona in 2001 and had to be revived from a coma. The more recent allegations stem from the period of Moss’s relationship with Babyshambles frontman Pete Doherty when she was photographed allegedly using cocaine at one of the band’s recording sessions. On September 22 nd Moss issued a public apology and said that she was taking steps to address her ‘personal issues’. She has since attended a rehabilitation clinic in the US. Moss has subsequently returned to the UK and has, on January 31 st, been interviewed by police under caution but she was not arrested and no charges have been brought against her. In a pre-trial ruling Mr Justice Eady gave defence lawyers permission to use the more recent allegations of cocaine use in their defence against the action for defamation for the alleged Barcelona incident in 2001 (these allegations being pre the winter 2005 new allegations and apology). Channel 5’s case at trial will…

Canadian Courts give out mixed messages as the Ontario Court of Appeal
Defamation , Internet / November 2005

DEFAMATION TV and Radio, Internet, Newspapers Jurisdiction issues: Overturns Jurisdiction Decision in Washington Post Case but BC Court finds it has jurisdiction in an action against New York Post Taken from a summary by Michael Erdle in E-Tips: E-Tips is a publication of Deeth Williams Wall and edited by Richard Potter QC. The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned a controversial lower court decision which had held that it did have jurisdiction in a lawsuit against the Washington Post brought by a United Nations official. The appellate court held that the claimant had no substantial connection with Ontario – so the court had no jurisdiction. The Washington Post published articles in January 1997 about a, Cheickh Bangoura who was employed by the United Nations in Africa. The articles related to Mr Bangoura’s conduct in a prior posting with the United Nations. Bangoura moved to Ontario some time before the action was commenced, more than six years after the publication of the articles. There were only seven subscribers to the Washington Post in Ontario when the articles were published. Although the articles were available through the newspaper’s online archive, there was no evidence that anyone in Ontario other than Bangoura’s lawyer had accessed them. The trial…

Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers (No2)
Defamation , Internet / November 2005

DEFAMATION Newspapers, Television, Radio, Internet In this case the House of Lords held that where a successful claimant in a libel action against a newspaper had entered into a conditional fee arrangement (CFA) which included a percentage uplift as a success fee, the newspaper’s liability in costs to pay that success fee was not incompatible with its right to freedom of expression (under the Human Rights Actand Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights) even though the claimant (in this case Naomi Campbell) might have had sufficient resources to fund their litigation without resorting to a CFA. The House of Lords refused the application of Mirror Group Newspapers for a ruling that the uplifted percentage of the fees charged by Schillings to their client, Ms Campbell be disallowed. In total MGN faced legal costs, including their own, totaling £1,086,295. The House of Lords held that since Access to Justice Act 1999 the uplift of success fee element can be included in a claim for costs against the losing party. The deliberate purpose of the 1999 Act was to impose the cost of all CFA litigation on the unsuccessful party, in this case MGN. The Times Law Reports 21 October 2005 See Law…

Canadian court rejects the “Single Publishing Rule” in an internet defamation case: Carter v BC Federation of Foster Parents Association et al (2005)
Defamation , Internet / September 2005

DEFAMATION Internet The British Columbia Court of Appeal has ruled that the so-called “single publishing rule” often used in the US has no application in Canada. Under the US rule the publication of a libel gives rise to only one cause of action – when the libel is first published – even though there may be later deliveries of the same libel, for example, by way of later sales of a book containing the same libellous statement. The Court noted that both English and Australian courts had rejected the single publishing rule. Although a potential injustice could arise if a plaintiff were allowed to mount a series of lawsuits based on a single article when re-published, the Court of Appeal noted that courts have abuse of process jurisdiction to deal with such situations. From a summary of the case by Richard Potter QC editor of E-Tips. Published in E-TIPS® newsletter, Vol 4 No 4, see:

Beckhams kidnap case shows the difficulties of ‘no-win no-fee’ litigation
Artists , Defamation , Internet / June 2005

DEFAMATION Artists, Newspapers, Television, Internet Mr Justice Eady has thrown out a claim by Mr Bogdan Maris, a 24 year old Romanian (who initially sued under a false name) against the News of the World who ‘caught’ Mr Maris in a sting designed to uncover a plot to kidnap Victoria Beckham. The story was published in 2003 and Mr Maris obtained counsel on a no-win no-fee basis (a conditional fee arrangement or CFA). Mr Maris was arrested and charged but the trial collapsed when the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence. Whilst during the trial Eady J found that there were a number of inaccuracies in the News of The World’s story, he found the case all the more unusual as Mr Maris was not presently in the UK and had not even produced a witness statement outlining his side of the story. His counsel had continued proceedings based on past instructions. This of course meant that the newspaper could not cross examine Mr Maris or see any evidence from him. The judge pointed out that a ‘ransom factor underpin CFAs as costs build up for the defending newspaper with no likelihood of recovery if the newspaper wins but significant…

Court of Appeal takes a robust view of abusive libel actions: Jameel v Dow Jones
Artists , Defamation , Internet / March 2005

DEFAMATION Artists, Radio and Television, Internet ARTICLE: Jonathan Coad, Solicitor England’s libel laws make London a favorite destination for foreign claimants. But actions do not always succeed and the Court of Appeal have thrown out a claim brought by a Saudi businessman against the US published Wall Street Journal online on the grounds that practically no-one in England had read the offending article – only five people had clicked on the link. This action arose from an article which was posted by the defendant in the United States via a subscriber service to the Wall St Journal. The claimant sued on the basis that the material bore the defamatory meaning that he provided financial support to Al Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. It was assumed for the purposes of the appeal that only five UK subscribers had accessed the posting. It was asserted by the defendant that of those five two did not know Mr Jameel, and that the other three were his solicitor, a director of an associated company and a consultant to Mr Jameel’s group of companies. In its judgment, the Court of Appeal affirmed the presumption of damage on the part of someone defamed without the…

Website disclaimer fails to protect infringement but liability for chat room activities may be limited
Artists , Defamation , Internet / March 2005

DEFAMATION Artists, Internet -ARTICLE: Newsgroup Newspapers Ltd v Douglass Consultancy Services Ltd (2005) – Tom Frederikse, solicitor A website that relied on an informal disclaimer, appealing to copyright holders to forgive its obvious copyright infringement, has been forced to withdraw the infringing pictures. On 15 October 2004, News Group (owners of The Sun and News of the World) obtained an interim injunction to prohibit publication of its pictures by the offending site. The website referred to as “robscelebs” (controlled by Douglass) provides access to photographs of celebrities – many taken from other publications and posted on the site. The site apparently offers over 100,000 photos and, as the court noted, the most popular images are those in which “the subject of the picture is exposing the most flesh”. In January 2004, News Group complained that photographs in which it owned the copyright or which were under an exclusive licence appeared on the website. The infringements were easily proved as many of the images bore the banner of The Sun or the logo of “”. Douglass had earlier admitted that News Group did own the rights to certain photos posted within the site and had offered an undertaking to remove those images. The site,…

Fugitive granted right to give evidence via a video link: Polanski v Conde Nast
Artists , Defamation / March 2005

DEFAMATION Artists ARTICLE: Jonathan Coad, Solicitor This decision of the House of Lords handed down on 10 February overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal refusing the film director Roman Polanski leave to give evidence at the trial of his libel action via video link. The Court of Appeal had in turn overturned the decision of Mr Justice Eady granting the application. The decisions of the various Law Lords show clearly the legal and moral dilemma which is reflected in the 3 to 2 majority by which the House of Lords overturned the Court of Appeal judgment. Roman Polanski had pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13 year old girl in 1977. He fled the United States in 1978 and since then he has resided in France from which he cannot be extradited as he is a French citizen. If he were to come to this country he would be liable to be extradited under the terms of the extradition treaty with the United States. In 2002 Mr Polanski began proceedings against the publishers of Vanity Fair over allegations that on the way to attending the burial of his wife (Sharon Tate), who had been viciously murdered,…

McLibel case ends in victory for campaigning duo. Steel & Morris v United Kingdom Times Law Reports 16 February 2005 ECHR Application no 6841/01
Artists , Defamation / March 2005

DEFAMATION Artists McDonalds have finally lost one of the longest running sagas in UK defamation history to Helen Steel and David Morris, two anti-McDonalds Greenpeace activists when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the pair did not get a fair trial and the UK Government was wrong not to award the pair legal aid to fight their case in breach of Article 6 of theEuropean Convention on Human Rights. The two activists were found liable for libeling the U.S. fast food chain McDonald’s after the longest court case in English legal history did not get a fair trial, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday. Steel and Morris produced a 1984 pamphlet which accused McDonald’s of starving the Third World, destroying rainforests and selling unhealthy food, were also deprived of their freedom of expression by their 1997 conviction, it said. The Strasbourg-based court ordered Britain to pay Steel E20,000 and Morris E15,000 for non-pecuniary damages and E47,311 costs and expenses and offer them a retrial. The United Kingdom has three months to appeal the decision. In its ruling, the court said the denial of state legal aid to the defendants, a part-time barmaid or unemployed single person and…

George Galloway wins battle against Telegraph over ‘Saddam’ libel
Artists , Defamation / January 2005

DEFAMATION Artists ARTICLE by Jonathan Coad  Judgment had been handed down by Mr Justice Eady in the bitterly fought battle between George Galloway MP and The Telegraph over allegations published in April 2003 that he had received money from Saddam Hussein’s regime, which Mr Galloway had always denied. From a legal perspective the important part of the case was how it was defended by The Telegraph in order to avoid being found liable to pay damages to Mr Galloway for the allegations, and the reasons why the judge upheld the claim. The allegations published in The Telegraph were undoubtedly seriously defamatory of Mr Galloway. According to the judge they conveyed to “reasonable and fair minded readers” that: (i) Mr Galloway had been in the pay of Saddam Hussein, secretly receiving around ,000 a year. (ii) Mr Galloway diverted monies from the Oil-for-Food programme, thereby depriving the Iraqi people (whose interests he had claimed to represent) of food and medicines. (iii) He probably used the Mariam Appeal as a front for personal enrichments. (iv) His actions were tantamount to treason. Significantly, it was no part of The Telegraph’s defence to claim that any of these allegations were true, or even that…

Forum non conveniens Principles upheld in Claim Against Schwarzenegger. Richardson vSchwarzenegger & Others (2004)
Artists , Defamation , Internet / December 2004

DEFAMATION Artists, Internet, Broadcasters ARTICLE: Jonathan Coad, Solicitor, Simkins Partership This case where judgment was handed down on 29 October 2004 concerned the allegations which surrounded Arnold Schwarzenegger as he stood for election as governor of California. The claimant was the television presenter Anna Richardson. She was one of a number of women who came forward and suggested that Schwarzenegger had engaged in inappropriate conduct. It was the denial of these allegations and suggestion that they were fabricated which gave rise to a claim in which the question of the appropriate forum to litigate Schwarzenegger’s reputational issue came before Mr Justice Eady. There was what the judge himself described as a cri de coeur from Richard Spearman QC on behalf of one of the defendants, Mr Walsh (a spokesman for Mr Schwarzenegger), in these terms: “This case is about whether a spokesman for a foreign politician in a local election campaign who was asked by a foreign newspaper to respond on behalf of the foreign electoral candidate to allegations concerning the past conduct of that candidate, and he provided a response that is immune from suit under local law and is protected by qualified privilege under our system in circumstances…

When a Pre-trial ‘Gagging’ Order Will Be Granted by the Courts: Cream Holdings Ltd & Others v Banerjee & Another (2004)
Artists , Defamation , Privacy , Record Labels / November 2004

DEFAMATION, CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION & PRIVACY Artists, Record Labels, Press, Television In this House of Lords decision it was held that the proper test for a court to use when looking at a prior restraint order preventing the publication of information before a trial was that the order would not be granted unless the court was satisfied that the applicant’s prospects of success at trial were sufficiently favourable to justify the order being in made in the circumstances. In general terms the applicant had to satisfy the court that he would probably succeed at trial although there might be circumstances where a lower threshold might apply. Where a real probability of success could not be proved then the court should look a where the balance of convenience lay. This case revolved around the publication of certain information to do with the business of the Cream nightclub which was provided to the Liverpool Daily Post and the Liverpool Echo by Ms Banerjee who had been the financial controller of one of the Cream group companies but had been dismissed. The information allegedly showed illegal and improper activities by the Cream group. The defendants admitted that the information was confidential. These allegations were published on June 13…

“ISP’s the Weakest Link When It Comes to Free Speech”
Copyright , Defamation , Internet / November 2004

DEFAMATION & COPYRIGHT Internet The Observer newspaper’s Networker column often provides food for thought and writer John Naughton often has a fresh approach to new issues which have developed out of the internet. He writes in his 17th October 2004 column about the way in which the internet, which was once perceived to be the great and wonderful holy grail of real truth in a world of spin, of exposure in a era of hush-ups and of free speech in a world of censorship is now nothing of the sort. Indeed such is the nervousness of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to avoid any liability for defamation or copyright infringement because of those who use their systems; When activist group ‘Bits of Freedom’ placed a public domain work by Dutch author Multatuli on ten Dutch websites, all but three removed the work when contacted by a fake society claiming to represent the copyright owner of the work. In fact Multatuli died over 100 years ago and the article posted on the ISPs stated the work was in the public domain. Only one ISP responded to the fake society (set up by the actvist group) pointing out that the work was well…

Court of Appeal Ruling on the Offer of Amends Defence: Milne v Express Newspapers

DEFAMATION Televison, Radio, Publishing, Internet ARTICLE: by Jonathan Coad, solicitor Section 4 of the Defamation Act 1996 introduced the Offer of Amends defence as a quick and easy complete defence available to defendants who sought an early settlement of libel proceedings against them. If the defence is accepted, a judge then assesses the damages if a figure cannot be agreed. As Lord Justice May observed in the Court of Appeal: “It is to be expected that most sensible claimants will accept unqualified offers to make amends. The main purpose of the statutory provisions is plain. It is to encourage the sensible compromise of defamation proceedings without the need of an expensive jury trial.” Section 4(3) does however limit the scope of the defence: “There is no such defence if the person by whom the offer was made knew or had reason to believe that the statement complained of – a) referred to the aggrieved party or was likely to be understood as referring to him, and b) was both false and defamatory of that party; but it shall be presumed until the contrary is shown that he did not know and had no reason to believe that was the case.” The key…

Washington Post Appeals Canadian Jurisdiction in Internet Libel Action
Defamation , Internet / July 2004

DEFAMATION Internet The Washington Post is to appeal the decision of The Ontario Superior Court of Justice to allow the plaintiff, Cheickh Bangoura, to pursue his claim arising from alleged defamatory statements published on the internet by the newspaper. The claims centered on Mr Bangoura’s behaviour in 1997 when he was based in Kenya and employed by the UN drugs control programme. The allegations centered on claims of sexual harassment, financial improprieties and nepotism. The primary issue in this case was whether the Court had jurisdiction over a foreign publisher of allegedly libellous statements concerning an international civil servant with residency status in Canada, where the medium of main distribution of the statements was the Internet. There were just seven paid subscribers to the Washington Post in Ontario area but the article featured in the Washington Post was freely available on the internet after 14 days. The Court found that the broad reach of the Internet and the renown of the newspaper itself were factors in demonstrating the multi-state nature of the action. Justice Pitt held that the defendant “should reasonably have foreseen that the story would follow the plaintiff wherever he resided.” The Court was also attracted by the…

Lawyers Costs Capped in Contingency Fee Cases Musa King v Telegraph Group Limited (2004)

DEFAMATION Artists, Internet, Radio, Television, Publishing COMMENT : Costs in libel cases in the United Kingdom are notoriously high for both sides. One of the reasons for the development of a ‘contingency fee’ basis of litigation – where the solicitor acting on that basis only gets paid if his or her client wins – was to make the system fairer to individuals who wanted to sue the press but were put off by prohibitively high costs. However in a recent case the Court of Appeal has decided to cap the amount law firms can charge when representing litigants on a contingency basis. Lord Justice Brooke criticised one firm for the ‘extravagant manner’ in which it had handled a claim against the Sunday Telegraph. The judge held that in a case where one party (one presumes the claimant) was using solicitors acting on a contingency fee basis then the judge would set the maximum level of fees in advance. See :   ARTICLE: Musa King v Telegraph Group Ltd by Jonathan Coad, Solicitor The Musa King case against The Telegraph has featured in the law reports for a number of reasons to date, and has become a pitched battle between those bringing conditional fee arrangement…

The Effect of the Offer of Amends Procedure on Damages Awards
Artists , Defamation / May 2004

DEFAMATION Artists Jimmy Nail v Harper Collins and News Group Newspapers (2004) The Offer of Amends procedure was introduced into the law of libel by section 3 of the 1996 Defamation Act. It was intended to provide a means to the media and other defendants of avoiding the uncertainty of jury awards. After a slow start, the regime is increasingly being used, although the media is watching it closely to see whether it will have the desired effect of providing a quick and inexpensive exit route from what might otherwise be expensive litigation. In 1998 Harper Collins published a biography of Jimmy Nail entitled Nailed which contained a series of defamatory allegations against him. For various reasons Jimmy Nail decided neither to issue proceedings nor even complain about the book at the time of publication. In May 2002 the News of the World published an article entitled “Auf Weidersen Jimmy’s Secret Bondage Orgies”. The content of the article can be guessed from the title. The News of the World article was to a large extent based on the contents of the book. Jimmy Nail then issued proceedings concerning both publications. In both actions an Offer of Amends was made and accepted….

Harrods v Dow Jones (2004)
Artists , Defamation , Internet / April 2004

DEFAMATION Internet, Artists, Television Despite winning a High Court battle for the right to bring an action against Dow Jones to bring a lawsuit against Dow Jones in the United Kingdom, Harrods have lost their libel action against Dow Jones & Company Inc for Defamation. Dow Jones had compared Harrods to disgraced US energy giant Enron, but in the initial High Court action it was revealed that the publisher had only ten subscribers in the UK. Harrods now face estimated costs of ,000 after a jury found that the damage to the store was virtually non-existent and the article did not injure Harrod’s reputation. See Law Updates July 2003

Canadian Court Asserts Jurisdiction over the Washington Post in an Internet Libel Action as Defamation Laws in the UK, USA and Australia are Applied to the World Wide Web
Defamation , Internet / March 2004

DEFAMATION Internet The Ontario Superior Court of Justice will allow a plaintiff to pursue his claim arising from alleged defamatory statements published on the Internet by the defendant continuously since January 1997. The primary issue in this case was whether the Court had jurisdiction over a foreign publisher of allegedly libellous statements concerning an international civil servant with residency status in Canada, where the medium of distribution of the statements was the Internet. The Court found that the broad reach of the Internet and the renown of the newspaper itself were factors in demonstrating the multi-state nature of the action. Justice Pitt held that the defendant “should reasonably have foreseen that the story would follow the plaintiff wherever he resided.” The Court was also attracted by the reasoning of a recent Australian case, Dow Jones & Company Inc v Gutnick, [2002] HCA 56, in which the High Court of Australia approved the assertion of jurisdiction where an American corporation published material online that was allegedly defamatory of Mr Gutnick, who was living in Australia (see Law Updates July 2003 and Harrods v Dow Jones). In another Canadian case, Vaquero Energy v Weir, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench awarded the Plaintiffs general and…

Battle Royal in the High Court
Artists , Defamation , Privacy / January 2004

PRIVACY, CONFIDENCE, DEFAMATION Artists On Friday 21 November, Mr Justice Lewinson imposed an interim injunction of the Daily Mirror preventing the newspaper revealing any more details about the Royal Family’s lifestyle and the royal household which had been collected by undercover reporter Ryan Parry. Amongst details reported were the Queen’s TV viewing habits (Eastenders is a favourite), her regular dining menus, her reading habits (Racing Post is laid out first every day) and drinking habits (gin and Dubonnet). Mr Parry was taken on after almost no security checks and given responsibilities which took him into direct contact with the Royal Family. The Mirror argued that it had acted at all times in the public interest and had exposed a very serious security breach involving the Queen and the Royal Family. However, it was clear that Mr Parry had signed an employee agreement which contained a confidentiality agreement. This would almost always override any right to a freedom of expression (article 10) contained in the Human Rights Act. The Royal Family argued that the publications in the Mirror were the plainest possible breach of confidence and the plainest possible intrusion into personal privacy. The full hearing for the action began on Monday November…

Actress Awarded Damages of £38,000 For Libel
Artists , Defamation / December 2003

DEFAMATION Artists Actress Dame Diana Rigg has accepted the sum of £38,000 for libel and breach of privacy in a High Court action against the London Evening Standard and the Daily Mail. The newspapers had both published articles which said that the actress, famous for her inconic role as Emma Peel in The Avengers, was an ’embittered woman’, ‘lived in France’, was ‘critical of British men’ and had ‘retired’. None of these statements were true and Dame Diana had been upset by the way she had been portrayed and worried that the articles might harm her chance of securing work as an actress. Dame Diana has had a hugely successful television, film and theatrical career in the UK and worldwide. Under UK law a defamatory statement is one which brings the plaintiff into ‘hatred, ridicule or contempt’ or one which ‘lowers the plaintiff in the estimation of right thinking members of society’. Defamation in a permanent form is called libel. In the 1997 case of Burchill -v- Berkoff actor Stephen Berkoff won a libel action after being labelled ‘hideously ugly’ by writer Julie Burchill. £30,000 was awarded for defamation and £8,000 for breach of privacy. Dame Diana will also receive costs and an apology. Part of the settlement…

French Mayor Questions Whether Novel Is a Work of Fiction
Artists , Defamation / December 2003

DEFAMATION Artists Jean-Michel Couve, mayor of Saint-Tropez, is bringing a legal action against a fellow local resident and political rival, Christian Millau, claiming that he can recognise himself in Mr Millau’s novel ‘A Campaign In The Sun’. The main character in the novel, Max Farini, is re-elected mayor of a Cote D’Azur town after a hard fought local election, and is corrupt and turns a blind eye to planning regulations. Mr Couve won his last election against an opponent whose campaign was masterminded by Mr Millau by just 11 votes. But Mr Millau has been ordered to take down his 1989 residence which was built without planning regulations. The Mayor’s lawyer pointed out that other authors in France had been convicted of defamation after having ‘described reality too accurately’ in works of fiction. The defence have suggested that in admitting he recognises himself, the mayor is admitting to all of the alleged behaviour in Mr Millau’s novel. See: