August 5, 2006
Journalism Prof Wins Defamation Suit Against Blog Hosting Service in China
Blogcn.com, one of China's largest blog hosting services, received a judgment against it of 1,000 yuan (US$125) in damages plus was ordered to publish a formal apology on its website for allowing a defamatory blog post to remain online. The plaintiff is Chen Tangfa, an associate professor at Nanjing University's School of Journalism. The blogger is one of the prof's former student. The statement:
"Chen Tangfa is indeed an uncouth person. I can see this from his book. He wrote the worst textbook."
Professor Chen Tangfa decided not to sue his former student. Rather he sued Blogcn.com for failing to supervise its online content after the Company refused to delete the post. Blogcn.com argued unsuccessfully that it had no right to remove it. Xinhua summarizes the Journalism Prof's reaction to his victory in court:
"the case shows that personnel dignity overweighs freedom of speech, and it provides a significant example that bloggers can be controlled by law."
"K007," Chen Tangfa's former student, disagrees with holding the blog hosting company responsible. He voluntarily removed the post, explaining "it's my own responsibility to wipe out the comments not the responsibility of Blogcn.com." After the ruling, Blogcn.com announced that it will remove comments it deems slanderous or defamatory upon receipt of reader complaints.
Hat tip to Chinese Law Prof Blog editor, Donald C. Clarke (George Washington), for calling this ruling to the attention of the subscribers of CHINALAW list.
Editor's Note: Please email me a copy of the opinion if you have one or if you know where I can obtain a digital copy of one. Translation not necessary but helpful. Thanks. [JH]
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