The decision n. 54946/2016 released by the Italian Supreme Court – Vth Branch that held a blogger liable for defamation for a libeling post on his website is gaining momentum in Italy as a case law affirming the automatic liability of a blogger for the behaviour of the people who posts comments. But this is a wrong account of the story.
The merit of the issue is a comment where somebody called the chair of the Italian Soccer Pro League a certified criminal and a crook, and sent the blogger the criminal record of the chairman. While the defendant claimed of not knowing about the comment until the police knocked at his door, the court found that the email containing the criminal record was
enough to have actual knowledge of the existence comment itself.
This decision has been wrongly reported as a shift toward the intermediary liability for omitted control of a platform’s contents.
The decision grounded the indictment on the basis that the defendant actually – actually, I repeat – knew about the existence of the defamatory content and didn’t remove it. Thus – it can be summarized – he either directly contributed to the defamation or indirectly allowed the post to exploit its effect.
While, thus, this decision doesn’t impose a duty of preemptive monitoring, it broadens the notion of “actual knowledge”.
To what extent it will be assessed in the near future.