In the wake of the March 31 settlement in the British High Court case Godfrey v. Demon Internet Ltd., Outcast, a magazine for the gay community, asked the European Court of Human Rights April 17 to rule that British laws breach the right of freedom of expression on the Internet.

Laurence Godfrey had sued Demon Internet Ltd. for failing to remove allegedly defamatory remarks about him. The High Court had held in March 1999 that Demon could not claim that it was not responsible for the content as a matter of law. Demon settled the case shortly before trial was to have begun, and many predicted that, fearful of the example the settlement was setting, ISPs would simply close Web sites against which they had received a complaint, rather than face liability.