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Old 6th Dec 2012, 23:00   #1 (permalink)
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The Aviation Herald under legal threat

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News: The Aviation Herald under legal threat
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 23:38   #2 (permalink)
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I notice from where I am a strong article of support in the Australian media in
Plane Talking.

Although Ryanair is better known for the publicity seeking antics of its CEO, Michael O’Leary, and his attacks on Boeing, Airbus, airport authorities, assorted European governments, city administrators, Ryanair customers and other airlines, it is so upset at reader comments on the Aviation Herald web site that it has threatened to take action for defamation against its author, Simon Hradecky.
The full article is at:

Ryanair makes legal threats against Aviation Herald | Plane Talking
If I find more stories down here I will also link to them.
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Old 6th Dec 2012, 23:45   #3 (permalink)
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One more reason (not that I needed any) not to fly with them - ever.

Last edited by atakacs; 6th Dec 2012 at 23:48.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 06:54   #4 (permalink)
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Is this serious, or just a new add-on to what seems like their already existing PR strategy of alienating people to get attention? Yawn.

They had a vacancy for a "Litigation specialised solicitor" recently. Requirements: "Familiar with IT/IP law and with the Internet":

Careers in travel - Litigation specialised solicitor

In other words (my words ), someone who may attempt to stifle free speech on the internet by means of legal threats (a minefield in so many ways, and a strategy that never consistently worked for anyone else, but often backfired).

It looks like that position is filled now. That person is probably busily looking for things to do, to justify his/her salary.

It's a bit unusual for an airline, or any company, to employ full time in-house litigation specialists; most companies employ only regulatory and corporate law specialists. Most companies are rational, and would rather avoid costly litigation, and resolve conflicts amicably. I assume Ryanair are also acting rationally. Possibly they're just barking, and hope to resolve whatever issues they think they have by barking (semi-amicably). But then again Ryanair always wanted to be a bit different...and they've been financially successful so far. Maybe they really plan to be involved in a lot of legal action, and want to spend their shareholders, employees, customers, and stakeholders money on litigators and courts. Maybe hiring a full time litigation specialist will somehow work for them, who knows. I'll have some popcorn when I read more, hoping it will be mildly entertaining:

According to AvHerald - "The airline's legal advisor has threatened further legal proceedings regarding this very article stating their message was marked "strictly confidential and private".

Tsk, Tsk. Bummer. If they want something to be "strictly confidential and private" they may want to consider NOT to send it to the media (like avherald). If they simply keep their secrets locked in a safe, there's a much better chance that they will remain fully "confidential and private". Sending unsolicited letters to media outlets on the other hand is an invitation to publish. They can't reasonable expect other people, and particularly not the media, not to publish their unsolicited communications.

Last edited by deptrai; 7th Dec 2012 at 08:10.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 08:23   #5 (permalink)
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then you have come to the right place, the PP Facts Forum
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 08:43   #6 (permalink)
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Well, attacking a well respected web site is not going to win many supporters around. I think someone in FR wants to kill all this "negative pubicity" about Safety ( fuel minimas, hasetd turn arounds, etc..) by going in the offensive.

Unfortunately all they do with this is attracting attention to the safety problems they have.(*)
The classification of incidents is not for the inloved airline to decide , it is for the Investigating independent bodies , here the BFU, since the incident occurred in Germany.
FR can bark as much as they want, the BFU has the final call.

What we can do to help Aviation Herald is to also publish widely the BFU final report.
I will do this myself.

(*) = every airline has its incidents. The most important point in in safety is how you deal with them afterwards.

Last edited by ATC Watcher; 7th Dec 2012 at 08:45.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 08:48   #7 (permalink)
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It seems the legal action is to do with the "comments" left by some of the Avherald readers. There is no indication that the Avherald is wrong ...after all they are just reporting the facts and our friends in the "comments" section express opinions ..
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 09:03   #8 (permalink)
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RY do claim that AvHerald was 'inaccurate' in its text over the g/a, but in general AvHerald has become 'vulnerable' through its readers' posts, as has PPRuNe.

I cannot see this working to MOL's advantage!
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 09:05   #9 (permalink)
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Trying to hold a service provider, like web site, responsible for users' comments is a bit like accusing the government of facilitating bank robberies because the government built the public roads that bank robbers used.

But public roads, as a service, have been available since Roman times and longer. People are used to them, and accept that they are a good thing, even if bank robbers also use them. The internet and online services is a comparably new phenomenon, and sometimes people, including legal professionals, are a bit confused at how to deal with it.

Many jurisdictions have therefore introduced explicit legislation to protect online service providers, like the DMCA Safe Harbor provisions in the US.

libel/defamation etc is another animal than copyright of course, and different jurisdictions have different laws, but in my humble opinion service providers should be protected from these kinds of legal threats, which are related to statements made by OTHERS (amd simply facilitated, in good faith, by the service provider, but not endorsed) I don't think PPRuNe, or any website or online service provider, should be held liable for my personal opinions. My phone company isn't responsible for what I say on the phone either. If you hold avherald responsible for users' comments, why not also go after google? after all, their automated search engine has also picked up the same comments, and you could construct a claim google also "published" it and can be held liable for it. In my humble opinion this would not be a very fruitful line of thought, and definitely not in the best interest of society.

Last edited by deptrai; 7th Dec 2012 at 09:25.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 09:27   #10 (permalink)
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To be fair, there are other airlines who don't allow comments here.

Those using the internet who deliberately cause damage or harm through mischievous rumours and falsehoods shouldn't expect to be immune from accountability of law.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 09:37   #11 (permalink)
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Those using the internet who deliberately cause damage or harm through mischievous rumours and falsehoods shouldn't expect to be immune from accountability of law.
You really believe that an annonimous poster can cause harm to Ryanair?
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 09:44   #12 (permalink)

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Looks like Air Scoop got nobbled too - see the disclaimer on their home page

Air Scoop | The European Low-Cost Carriers Specialists
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 10:08   #13 (permalink)
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I read the table of quotations and Ryanair's responses.

90% of those quotations were indeed either complete bollocks or couched in terms that were designed to mislead.

It is obvious that they came from a position of parti pris, ie "Ryanair is unsafe" founded on a total lack of knowledge about how Ryanair does its maintenance, and its flight operations.

I think that Ryanair's commercial practices stink; almost everything they do to the customers, commercially, is sharp practice and bordering on the illegal. I only use them if I have no other option; I will drive 200 miles to an airport to avoid them if I can.

But, not for the first time, it is necessary to point out, from first hand knowledge of its line and base maintenance, and to a good extent of its flight operations, that Ryanair has the best maintenance control and methods, and quality control and assurance of any of the many airlines I have worked with, including the world's favourite. Actually, the world's favourite is a country mile behind them.

The reason is very simple; Ryanair have worked out that good maintenance and high aircrew standards cost less than bad maintenance and low aircrew standards. It's a pity that some of the more traditional big operators, to say nothing of small struggling operators, evidently are unable to understand this.

So, say what you like about Ryanair's treatment of its customers, but I don't blame them for responding as they did to that article, which was slanted rubbish.

Last edited by Capot; 7th Dec 2012 at 10:08.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 10:14   #14 (permalink)
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The fact is that the approach coud not be considered safe as per international standards. The safety margins seem to have been compromised otherwise this would bot be considered a serious incident by the German authorities.

Furthermore the action you suggest when receiving a legal letter sounds like the approach one should take under a dictatorship.

In my opinion the airline have the wrong culture (overhall culture) and this filters to the day to day operations. Statistically it is only a matter of time before their lawyers are busy defending from potentially 189 families.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 10:14   #15 (permalink)
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A website is perfectly capable of vetting user comments before publication - more importantly, it's duty-bound to do so precisely to avoid defamation.

but unless you specify what jurisdiction you are referring to (north korea?), there's no point in arguing with you.

Avherald seems to be hosted in Austria. I am not familiar with Austrian law. But it would be interesting to know what Austrian law says.

But as a general observation, most websites are still hosted in the US, and there it is perfectly enough to act AFTER receiving a complaint/takedown notice/cease and desist letter, and remove the allegedly infringing content AFTER being notified by a complainant.

It may also be perfectly ok to REINSTATE the content again after the person who originally uploaded the content certifies that it is NOT infringing in any way.

Service providers do not necessarily have a duty to determine the truth of such allegations of infringement of any law. A service provider is not a court of law. A service provide just needs to act in good faith upon receiving proper notice.

It's a bit naive of you if you assume that google will vet every piece of text searchable on google.com in advance. That's simply not reasonable. You mention media laws, but I suggest you also research online service provider laws. They're not necessarily the same. The internet isn't your grandfathers' newspaper. One can argue that a web-based forum is an online service provider, and in the US at least, it can fall under safe harbor provisions.

Last edited by deptrai; 7th Dec 2012 at 10:32.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 10:15   #16 (permalink)
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There's one thing if you demand a correction of an article written by a journalist - that's a completely normal procedure in every democratic country, and RYR has every right to do so.

Bu this is a another horse:
A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.[1]
Strategic lawsuit against public participation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last edited by cowhorse; 7th Dec 2012 at 10:15.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 10:57   #17 (permalink)
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It's not nonsense. The website I work for does exactly this, for exactly this reason, and so do many others.
you may of course volunteer to police content in advance, if you have the resources to do that. it's your website, you are free to publish or not publish. but that approach is simply not practical for a large website, like google.com

when I wrote "nonsense", I meant your claim that a website has a "duty" to police third-party content in advance. And I still think that is nonsense (at least under US law, which I was excplicitly referring to), there is no such duty. Other jurisdictions may be different, I don't know. It's ok that the website you work for polices 3rd-party content in advance, but that does not create a legal duty for others to do the same.

Last edited by deptrai; 7th Dec 2012 at 11:00.
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 10:59   #18 (permalink)
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My point is when/if they crash an aircraft maybe they would understand that the money spent on innacurate articles was better spent in exceeding not just meeting the minimum requirements in terms of safety/training/recruitment...
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 11:19   #19 (permalink)
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Even without considering the rights and wrongs it's going to be interesting to see how this pans out.

I bet the Aviation Herald are going to be pleased with lots of free publicity - I feel sure this action will hit the tabloid press within the next few days.

Of course people should not be posting libelous statements and there are laws about that but I think if Ryanair won this one it would, in my opinion, be more of a pyrrhic victory - don't underestimate the power of the people and social media!
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Old 7th Dec 2012, 11:24   #20 (permalink)
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No, it's a responsible action you take in countries such as the UK where libel laws are very strict. It's not "dictatorship" because there's absolutely nothing stopping you publishing an ACCURATE article. Why is this so hard to understand?
No one is taking about RYR going after inaccurate articles. The problem is when they go after Joe Schmoe. RYR will not lose money if you write something bad about them, they just won't - so intimidation is the only factor here.
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