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Title: The liability of internet intermediaries
Author: Riordan, Jaani
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Internet intermediaries facilitate a wide range of conduct using services supplied over the layered architecture of modern communications networks. Members of this class include search engines, social networks, internet service providers, website operators, hosts, and payment gateways, which together exert a critical and growing influence upon national and global economies, governments and cultures. This research examines who should face legal responsibility when wrongdoers utilise these services tortiously to cause harm to others. It has three parts. Part 1 seeks to understand the nature of an intermediary and how its liability differs from the liability of primary defendants. It classifies intermediaries according to a new layered, functional taxonomy and argues that many instances of secondary liability in English private law reflect shared features and underlying policies, including optimal loss-avoidance and derivative liability premised on an assumption of responsibility. Part 2 analyses intermediaries’ monetary liability for secondary wrongdoing in two areas of English law: defamation and copyright. It traces the historical evolution of these doctrines at successive junctures in communications technology, before identifying and defending limits on that liability which derive from three main sources: (i) in-built limits contained in definitions of secondary wrongdoing; (ii) European safe harbours and general limits on remedies; and (iii) statutory defences and exceptions. Part 3 examines intermediaries’ non-monetary liability, in particular their obligations to disclose information about alleged primary wrongdoers and to cease facilitating wrongdoing where it is necessary and proportionate to do so. It proposes a new suite of non-facilitation remedies designed to restrict access to tortious internet materials, remove such materials from search engines, and reduce the profitability of wrongdoing. It concludes with several recommendations to improve the effectiveness and proportionality of remedies by reference to considerations of architecture, anonymity, efficient procedures, and fundamental rights.
Supervisor: Bagshaw, Roderick Sponsor: Clarendon Fund
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intellectual property ; Law and the internet ; Human rights ; Media Law ; EU Law ; European Law ; European and comparative law ; internet ; intermediaries ; internet service providers ; search engines ; internet law ; copyright ; defamation ; anonymity ; social networks ; remedies ; private law ; English law ; European Union law ; TRIPS Agreement