NiftyServe Modern Thought Forum Case

Tokyo High Court Decision (reversing Tokyo District Court, May 27, 1997)
Document type
Court Decision
(1) The issue of whether a party which merely administers or maintains a website or other online forums in which users or attendees committed illegal activities may be held liable for the illegal activities, was first discussed in Japan in the NiftyServe case.  In this case, a user of an online Broadcasting Board Service brought a lawsuit against another user who posted a libelous statement on the Broadcasting Board System.  The user also sued the administrator of the Broadcasting Board Service and the service provider company of the System, NiftyServe.
(2) The District Court found that the user’s posting of a libelous statement constitutes a tort and the user is liable to damages caused by such a statement.  The District Court also stated that the administrator was also liable for damages because it did not take appropriate measures such as deleting the statement long after becoming aware of the libelous statement on the Broadcasting Board System.  The Tokyo District Court further held Nifty Serve liable for damages as the entity under whose authority the administrator operated. 
(3) The parties appealed to the Tokyo High Court, which reversed the decision, stating that although in certain situations, the administrator and Nifty Serve should delete the libelous statement. In the present case, the administrator’s action was not too late.
Topic, claim, or defense
Defamation or Personality Rights
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Appellate Domestic Court
Type of service provider
Host (Including Social Networks)
Issues addressed
Trigger for OSP obligations
OSP obligation considered
Block or Remove
Type of law
General effect on immunity
Strengthens Immunity
General intermediary liability model
Takedown/Act Upon Knowledge (Includes Notice and Takedown)