Ryanair pursues defamation claim against anonymous users of pilots’ forum

Ryanair has successfully obtained an Order in the California Superior Court against Internet Brands Inc, directing the disclosure of the email addresses of a number of users of a pilot forum. Internet Brands Inc operates an online pilots’ forum, Professional Pilots’ Rumour Network (PPRuNe).

The airline has alleged that a number of anonymous users of the forum have defamed it by impugning its safety and business standards. It has alleged malice, fraud and oppression against a number of the forum users on PPRuNe, and it has petitioned for general, special and punitive damages. According to the airline’s submission to the Court, one poster may be posting under a number of different usernames, or alternatively, the posters are co-conspirators of each other.

The posters in question were found to have IP addresses from Eircom’s digital subscriber line. Ryanair subsequently applied to the Irish High Court and obtained an Order against Eircom directing disclosure to Ryanair of data to identify those who allegedly posted the defamatory material. It has been reported that Ryanair intends to then serve defamation proceedings on these individuals.  

Irish High Court orders identification of anonymous posters

In November 2012, the High Court granted court orders to US Oil Gas plc (USOP), an Irish-based oil exploration company, allowing it to obtain the identity of people who allegedly posted defamatory material on internet message boards, causing the oil company to lose a staggering stg£132million in market value.

USOP intends to take legal action against those who posted the material following the “catastrophic” fall in the company’s market value. It was claimed by USOP that “wholly untrue” defamatory postings materially contributed to its price fall, which in turn damaged the company’s reputation and ability to raise funds to exploit oil discoveries.