THE founder of one of the nation?s most popular online discussion forums says a lawsuit brought by a software company threatens freedom of speech on the net.

Whirlpool forums founder Simon Wright, who is being sued by accounting software maker 2Clix Australia for publishing comments the company alleges are ?false and malicious?, says the legal action affects all online discussion and even film reviews.

?A lot hangs in the balance here,? Mr Wright told

?This goes beyond Whirlpool, or indeed communities in general.

?It affects the viability of all internet discussion, from blogs to product reviews on Amazon.

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