Eoin McKeogh, a DCU (Dublin City University) student has had an unprecedented victory in the courts today. Mr McKeogh was wrongly accused of evading a taxi fare in Monkstown, county Dublin. This accusation was made through a YouTube clip which purported to show Mr McKeogh existing a taxi without paying the fare. This clip went viral on all popular internet and social media sites. At the main trial Mr McKeogh was able to prove that it was not infact him in the YouTube clip, as evidence confirmed he was in Japan on the same date. The video has since been removed; however, there is still substantial material on the matter which has not been removed by the internet companies.
Today Mr McKeogh brought an injunction application to the Irish High court (pending the full hearing on costs) to secure takedown notices against all internet companies publishing the material. Both You Tube and Google argued defences under the European Communities (Directive 2000/31/EC) Regulations 2003. The Irish High Court has now found in favour of Mr McKeogh, and stated in relation to the defamatory comments: ‘As seems to happen with apparent impunity these days on social media sites they said ‘whatever thing first came into their vacant, idle and meddlesome heads’.
The Judge has appointed experts to review the full matter and produce information as to how a worldwide take down notice can be effectively enforced against internet companies. Any such takedown notice would require an internet company to immediately remove all alleged defamatory material.
This is a highly important case in both Irish and International law. The court is seeking to balance the rights of individuals against defamatory comments on one side, and the rights of Internet Companies/ ISP’s to host material without liability on the other hand. The findings of the expert review panel will impact on all users of internet services in the future.
Clarke Jeffers (c) 2013