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The Long Arm Of Defamation Law 5 March 2002 Edition
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There's a very interesting discussion running in the nz.general usenet newsgroup at present.

This situation reinforces the fact that you really have to think carefully before running off at the mouth when posting stuff to the Net -- even if the target of your comments lives half a world away.

It appears that the (in)famous Dr Laurence Godfrey, who some might say is a little hypersensitive and trigger-happy when it comes to firing off defamation suits, has effectively convinced a local student to confess to committing an act of defamation.

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By fessing up and paying a chunk of cash (part of a student loan I wonder?) to charity, Vitali Deev has avoided having his pants sued off by Dr Godfrey for "a stream of unjustified insults and false allegations of incompetence, ignorance [and] lack of comprehension."

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    Postings to the discussion have suggested that Dr Godfrey is himself not averse to firing off an insult and derogatory comment or two -- however it would appear that he's far too smart to defame any individual, seemingly more inclined to target his critiques at entire races or countries.

    Is, as some believe, Dr Godfrey making a career out of goading people into defaming him then cutting them down in a hail of legal threats and lawsuits? Or is he just a regular guy that is perhaps just a little over-sensitive on the matter of personal or professional criticism?

    Are Kiwi Net Users Too Easy-Going?
    Kiwis are a pretty laid-back bunch, often preferring to grumble quietly to themselves rather than make a fuss when things go wrong or the quality of a product or service disappoints.

    It strikes me however that "laid-back" becomes almost "comatose" when it comes to issues related to the Internet or other high technology.

    Take recent events for example...

    Telecom seems to be making a complete dog's breakfast of running their DSL network with a mix of long-standing problems and new ones combining to make life hell for some customers. But do we see major outrage? No, just a few articles (like this one) in the industry media.

    If Telecom's ADSL service was a car or a toaster there would have been major recalls and compensation paid out left right and center. Customers would have been making enormous amounts of noise and the fallout would be quite significant.

    However, since ADSL is a "high-tech" product from a monopoly provider, we just grumble quietly and remain comatose consumers.

    Of course it would be unfair to single out Telecom -- after all, they're not alone in the dog's breakfast stakes.

    That perennial favourite Microsoft also consistently ships products that expose users to all manner of security problems. Do we grab them by the throat and threaten their kin-folk in disgust? Hell no, we hardly even twitch, remaining quiet and immobile, eyes fixed as if in a trance of resignation. Once again -- a high-tech product from a virtual monopoly provider (who else sells Windows(tm) and Office(tm)?)

    I'm particularly miffed at Microsoft right now because of the hassles experienced when I recently spent quite some time downloading IE6 from the Microsoft website.

    We all know that IE6 shipped with quite a number of serious security holes and that a patch was released last month to plug *some* of them. So why haven't they integrated that patch into the browser download instead of demanding that I download the browser *and* the patch?

    But wait -- it gets worse!

    I downloaded IE6 and installed it, things going quite smoothly.

    However, when I attempted to download the patch (using the newly installed IE6 of course) I was told that my security settings prohibited the download of the patch file.

    "No problem" I thought to myself, I'll just flag microsoft.com as a "trusted" zone.

    Nope, still wouldn't download.

    Okay, maybe time for a reboot.

    Nope, still wouldn't download.

    Checked the browser's Internet settings -- still no joy.

    In the end, Netscape came to the rescue by allowing me to download the critical file.

    Now, even though I have the latest and greatest(?) from Microsoft, I'm still using Netscape as my primary browser because sometimes IE won't follow links and, from a security perspective, it's still a disaster waiting to happen with another new hole being announced today.

    Have your say.

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