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Supreme Court: Web Portals Responsible for Libel

Posted April. 17, 2009 08:10,   


The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that domestic Internet portals must pay damages for selectively posting media news reports.

The court said such portals must delete Web postings that are “obviously illegal” even if their victims do not request them to do so, a move expected to put the brakes on arbitrarily selective news postings and editorial practices by the portals.

In a lawsuit filed by a person seeking damages from NHN, Daum, Daum Communications, SK Communications and Yahoo! Korea for news articles and Web postings he said slandered him, the court upheld a lower court’s award of 30 million won (23,000 U.S. dollars) to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff’s girlfriend committed suicide in April 2005 over their ruined relationship. Soon after, her mother left comments on a blog blaming Kim for her daughter’s death, and the postings spread through the Web.

Certain news organizations wrote articles posted on the portals that drew a slew of comments blaming him.

As the Web postings named the plaintiff and posted his personal information, he sued the portals` operators for neglecting to control libelous comments against him.

A court ruled in his favor, saying the portals played roles equivalent to those of news organizations, as they edited, distributed and covered news stories.

The Supreme Court ruled that Internet portals must remove postings obviously illegal and under their control.

The ruling said that though the portals selectively posted news articles provided by news organizations, they failed in their legal responsibilities under the excuse that they could not determine the accuracy of the articles.

The Supreme Court also said the ruling will change the way the portals operate by avoiding selective postings and providing search functions for news articles.