Judicial practice on protection of business reputation cases involving information on the Internet.

04.12.2009

Legal update No. 92.

Goltsblat BLP advises that Resolution of the Federal Arbitration Court for the Moscow Circuit No. KG-А40/11688-09 of 12 November 2009 (hereinafter the “Resolution”), containing important clarifications regarding liability for publishing information on the Internet,  has been adopted.

A claim was filed against Yandex LLC seeking protection of business reputation by compelling the respondent to remove a certain publication from a web search base and pay compensation.

The claimant recognised information displayed as a result of a search using the Yandex search engine as discrediting its business reputation and disseminated by Yandex LLC.

Even so, the Resolution upheld the decision of the first instance court in favour of the respondent and dismissed the claimant’s cassation appeal.
In essence, the Resolution expresses the following important position: organisations allowing use of their web data search systems (in the given case, Yandex LLC) shall not be considered as appropriate respondents in business reputation disputes involving information placed within said systems by other persons, even if such information may be found by using the above search systems and reflected as a query result.

The court indicated that a Yandex search does not disseminate information but rather enables users to search data posted on the Internet by third parties. The claimant did not provide any evidence that the respondent (Yandex LLC) was the administrator and owner of the site and the author of information found thereon.

The court’s position protects owners of search engines, web sites and portals that respond to user enquiries by automatically displaying information posted by other persons against the risk of being brought to trial as respondents simply for automatically displaying other persons’ information.
In such cases, proceedings should rather be instituted against  the administrators of the web sites originally featuring the relevant information or the persons disseminating such information by copying it on their web sites and the authors of the information.

It may, therefore, be concluded that to compile results of information requests from data available on the Internet does not constitute dissemination of discrediting information.

The above conclusions are vital for future development of judicial practice on cases involving protection of honour, dignity and business reputation.

For additional information, please contact:

Elena Trusova, Head of Group,
Dispute resolution,
Goltsblat BLP,
Tel: +7 (495) 287 44 44,
Email: info@gblplaw.com

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