In a move that could set a nasty precedent for Australian website operators and their users, a software firm is suing a community website over comments published on its message board.
The firm, 2Clix, is suing the owner of the popular broadband community site Whirlpool, Simon Wright, for “injurious falsehood”, asking for $150,000 in damages and an injunction requiring Whirlpool to remove forum threads highly critical of 2Clix’s accounting software.
Dale Clapperton, chairman of the online users lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia, said 2Clix was using the law to silence its critics.
He said if Wright lost “it might mean the end of criticising companies’ products and services online”, as “any company will be able to demand that people’s criticisms of them be deleted off websites, and if they don’t comply they’ll sue”.
Amanda Stickley, a senior law lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, said if 2Clix won there would be severe consequences for website operators as they would have to be “very vigilant in checking material on the website and remove anything that could cause injury to someone’s business reputation”.