REC Campus Sues YouTube and Clandestine YouTube Channel for Defamation

REC Campus, (AKA Russian Education Centre), a Colombo based leading foreign educational pathway provider in Sri Lanka, has instituted legal action in the District Court of Colombo against YouTube LLC, a California based social media network offering a popular video sharing platform, over publication of defamatory videos, injuring the business reputation of REC Campus.

In possibly the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, REC campus hasbrought the action against YouTube, alleging reckless refusals by YouTube to remove the alleged video in spite of complaints and legal notices.

The Plaintiff had also pleaded that YouTube LLC facilitates the creation of ‘channels’ on its platform with almost zero verification of authenticity and identity of persons, for commercial gain.

In this case, the Plaintiff claims that YouTube had permitted the creation of a channel called “Colombo Today” with no real person and no real address. The address given in the registration of the channel has been an address in an entertainment District in London. The Plaintiff claims that when asked to remove the video, YouTube refused the request and asked the plaintiff to contact the uploader. However, when asked to provide the contact details and an address of the uploader, YouTube failed to comply.

It has been alleged that You Tube has dismissed the requests of the Plaintiffs to remove the video saying that You Tube cannot determine the ‘merits of the complaint. The Plaintiffs claim before court, that YouTube, which is a business entity operating from USA cannot arrogate upon themselves any right to determine the ‘merits’ of a complaint of defamation which is governed by laws of another sovereign nation. The Plaintiff also claims that YouTube acted with most impunity when it responded by saying that YouTube ‘may consider’ complying with a court order. The Plaintiffs have strongly claimed that YouTube, being a media entity having a massive influence over the entire world, cannot act in disregard of the laws of nations, and at least must be more responsible and respectful towards the allegations of illegal conduct on its platform.

As per the complaint filed in Court, the allegedly defamatory video states that the Plaintiff, REC Campus is a cheat who cheats the students’ money,and these defamatory statements brought the Plaintiffs to ridicule and/or hatred and contempt in the eyes of public. REC Campus has also brought in as defendants, one Keerthi Dunuwila who is an alleged presenter of the video in Colombo Today YouTube channel. 

It is alleged that notwithstanding the identities of the actual persons who uploaded the defamatory video, YouTube, as the publisher and the owner of the media, is strictly liable in respect of the defamation.

When the matter was takenup in District Court of Colombo last Friday, Additional District Judge Hon. Ms.K. K. Liyanage granted an enjoining order against Keerthi Dunuwila of Colombo Today and YouTube LLC, from continuing to publishthe allegedly defamatory video. The Plaintiffs were represented in the courts by Counsel Manoj Bandara and Ms.Nayomi Chethana instructed by Sudath Perera Associates.

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