Sotiris Papasavvas v O Fileleftheros Dimosia Etaireia Ltd and Others.

European Court of Justice, C-291/13.
Document type
Court Decision
The ECJ clarified the notion of  "information society services" within the meaning of the Directive 2000/31/EC and the application of rules of civil liability for defamation to those intermediaries. The case involved an action brought by an individual for defamation against a daily national newspaper, which published the defamatory articles online. The ECJ concluded that 
(1) Directive 2000/31/EC must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘information society services’ covers the provision of online information services for which the service provider is remunerated, not by the recipient, but by income generated by advertisements posted on a website;
(2) Directive 2000/31/EC does not preclude the application of rules of civil liability for defamation. In particular, the limitations of civil liability specified in Articles 12 to 14 of Directive 2000/31 
(a) do not apply to the case of a online version of a newspaper published by a company which is remunerated by income generated by commercial advertisements posted on that website, since that company has knowledge of the information posted and exercises control over that information, whether or not access to that website is free of charge; and
(b) are capable of applying in the context of proceedings between individuals relating to civil liability for defamation and information society service providers cannot oppose the bringing of legal proceedings for civil liability against them and, consequently, the adoption of a prohibitory injunction by a national court; 
(c) however, the limitations of liability provided for in those articles may be invoked by the provider in accordance with the provisions of national law transposing them or, failing that, for the purpose of an interpretation of that law in conformity with the directive. By contrast, Directive 2000/31 cannot, in itself, create obligations on the part of individuals and therefore cannot be relied on against those individuals.
Topic, claim, or defense
Defamation or Personality Rights
Document type
Court Decision
Issuing entity
Transnational Court
Type of service provider
Type of law
General effect on immunity