Business takes Twitter to court over ‘white supremacy’
A car importer who claims tweets suggesting he was racist were posted after he used Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in an online video, has failed to get an injunction against Twitter Inc.
A District Court judge found Eddie Kocwa, who co-owns SCD American Vehicles at Brendale, had not produced sufficient proof that it had served Twitter with legal papers in California.
Mr Kocwa filed a District Court application, seeking damages for alleged defamation and aggravated damages against Twitter in August.
Last year, SCD American Vehicles released a video showing Mr Dutton touring its Brendale premises, with the words "baddest MP'' and "Dutton'' on screen.
"Thanks for the official visit Peter Dutton. Looking forward to creating more jobs in your electorate!,'' the company wrote under the video, which had a US rap backing track.
A negative tweet and re-tweets appeared in response to the video, including images of Mr Kocwa.
According to his statement of claim, the initial post depicted Mr Kocwa making a symbol with his left hand, with his thumb and index finger forming a circle.
Another photo showed Mr Kocwa shaking Mr Dutton's hand and another showed Mr Kocwa wearing a red hat with the words "Make America Great Again'', the court heard.
According to his claim, the first post on September 7, last year, said the symbol Mr Kocwa was making meant "White Power''.
A re-tweet by someone else the next day included the photo of Mr Kocwa making the symbol, and words saying he was giving the "White Power symbol''.
Mr Kocwa said in a court affidavit, the symbol made by him was from a game popularised on US television show, Malcolm in the Middle.
Judge Suzanne Sheridan said she was satisifed that the initial post, and any re-tweets, could be understood to mean that Mr Kocwa was a racist and white supremacist.
She said Mr Kocwa said he was not a racist or white supremacist and he found those beliefs repugnant.
"He says his company employs people from various cultural and religious backgrounds and that he finds the posts insulting and embarrassing,'' Judge Sheridan said.
Mr Kocwa said in February, a customer told him he could not order goods from him, given "stuff on the internet that shows (Mr Kocwa) as a white supremacist''.
He also said in July, a friend said he could not be photographed with him because of "stuff on the internet'' about (Mr Kocwa) being a racist''.
Mr Kocwa sought an interlocutory injunction against Twitter Inc requiring the removal of any reference to himself currently available for download from the web.
He also wanted to restrain the publishing of any statements, comments or images suggesting he was a racist or white supremacist.
Legal action against a man who was allegedly behind the initial post, was discontinued after the man agreed to remove the posts.
Judge Sheridan said there was no evidence that Twitter controlled the platform on which the re-tweets were uploaded, or if an injunction was granted, it would be able to remove them.
On Friday, Judge Sheridan refused the application for the interlocutory injunction, but adjourned the case for the originating application to a date to be fixed.
Originally published as Car importer takes Twitter to court over 'white supremacist' tweets