LEGAL THREAT: MCD stung by criticism
Website is curbed in Oxegen row
Evening Herald, 26th July 2006
by Mark Hilliard
MCD has sent a solicitor’s letter to a popular website after several users criticised conditions at the Oxegen music festival.
Concert goers had flooded the site with numerous allegations relating to a range of anti-social incidents in the camp sites.
But shortly after the contentious observations appeared, Boards.ie told its users that a legal communication had been received on behalf of the promoter warning against any further defamatory comments.
The move sparked outrage and criticisms of MCD itself, leading the system administrator to completely close down all debate on the subject.
An official posting simply stated that it was “closing this thread before it slips in the wrong direction.
“Apologies to those who just want a good discussion, but despite being asked not to post any more (perceived) defamatory remarks about MCD and Oxegen they just keep coming.
“Although I am not happy to do so, this thread is being closed with the best interests of this forum’s users and of the other 70,000 users of Boards.ie.”
The initial legal communication appeared mid-week and warned the system administrator against publishing any content that might be seen to be defamatory or libelous.
It is unclear how accurate the criticisms were regarding the event but MCD were unhappy about it publication of material it deemed to be defamatory.
A spokesperson for MCD said: “As this is an ongoing legal issue we have no comment to make.”
Requests by users of Boards.ie for the publication of the original legal letter were treated with caution by the system administrator.
It stated: “There is to be no discussion of MCD or Oxegen on this thread. Any poster who tries to discuss either will get a week’s ban and this thread will be locked.”
But the move has in turn sparked furious debate.
The argument evokes memories of the recent scandal surrounding Ratemyteacher.ie in which students gave on-line reviews of staff in Irish schools.
However, music industry sources have insisted that MCD have no difficulty with fair and balanced criticism and comment on events but that in this case the matter was sparked by very serious, unsubstantiated allegations.
I have little more to say on this MCD issue at the moment (thanks to Vexorg who has mainly been dealing with it), and as I’ve blogged, we have had a number of other legal threats issued against us recently.
We still feel that users are responsible for their own comments (just as someone on the radio [Edit: Andrew says below that radio stations are liable :(] would be responsible for stuff they say, without the communications channel being liable). However, we will happily remove defamatory messages as soon as we are notified of them as they obviously must be deleted, but we’d prefer if these legal proceedings aren’t issued as we don’t want the actions of a few people to ruin this service for 70,000 others.
Does Google get a legal letter for every defamatory message posted on its Google Groups service? With millions of users it must happen all the time…
More at boards.ie (Discussion of MCD and their concerts = completely banned this week – boards.ie), Indymedia Ireland (Oxegen, Poxegen: The Modern Rock and Roll Experience.), P45 (MCD covering up allegedly), Irish Independent (How we feared for our lives at Oxegen . . . festival-goers relive their nightmare), Blurred Keys (MCD threatens Indo and board.ie over Oxegen music festival campsite claims), Soundtracks for Them (Beware The MCD Hoover.) You can also search Planet Journals for Oxegen.