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February 1997

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[PC WEEK - 4 February 1997]

ITN up in arms over Web article - by Richard Barry

ITN is threatening to sue the editor of Living Marxism magazine if he refuses to remove an article published on the Web which criticises ITN's coverage of the Bosnian war.

The dispute could have significant implications for any company which publishes on the web.

The article, which is also published in the February issue of Living Marxism, alleges that ITN images of emaciated Muslims caged behind Serb barbed wire were misleading. ITN's lawyers have dismissed the claims as "outrageous and untrue".

Living Marxism, whose editor Mick Hume, claims it has been told by ITN to "pulp" the February issue of the magazine and remove the Internet version.

It also alleges it has been threatened with an injunction if it fails to comply.

Jan Macvarish, a spokeswoman for Living Marxism, said "We have no intention of removing either the Internet site or the print issue. In fact we are planning a re-run of the February issue."

Macvarish said if ITN was successful with an injunction, it would "consider all the options the Internet offers to give the article a fair hearing", including the possibility of moving it to an alternative location.

However, Nick Lockett, a London Barrister, told PC Week that this wound not protect the magazine from such a ruling. "It's never been done before, but if Living Marxism did move its server to say the US, it would be in contempt of court. There is no difference between an Internet page and a published page."

Lockett went on to explain that if ITN is successful in persuading a court that its coverage of the war was not misleading, it could get an interim injunction against the magazine "within 24 hours".

If Living Marxism ignored this injunction, the courts would be forced to take action against the ISP concerned, making a first in British law.


It will be down to the court to decide whether or not Living Marxism is guilty of publishing spurious allegations against ITN. If it is found guilty and ITN goes after the web-page, Living Marxism could move the page to a .com address although the NSI has already made it very clear that they would honour high court rulings from any part of the world.

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