Archive for the ‘cyberlibel’ Category

Ont. C.A.: Libel and Slander Act notice and limitation periods apply to internet libel; “single publication” rule rejected

June 18, 2013

The Court of Appeal for Ontario judgment in Shtaif v. Toronto Life Publishing Co. Ltd., 2013 ONCA 405 (Ont. C.A.) (“Shtaif“) confirms that the six-week notice requirement and three-month limitation period under the  Libel and Slander Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. L.12 (the “Act”), not the 2-year general limitation period in s. 4 of the Limitations Act, 2002, S.O 2002 c.24, governs libel actions based on online versions of newspaper articles. (more…)

Jorge R. Roig on “Emerging Technologies and Dwindling Speech”

June 7, 2013

Jorge R. Roig (Charleston School of Law) has posted “Emerging Technologies and Dwindling Speech”, University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 16, 2013 (Forthcoming).  The abstract reads:

Inspired in part by the recent holding in Bland v. Roberts that the use of the “Like” feature in Facebook is not covered by the Free Speech Clause, this article makes a brief foray into the approach that courts have taken in the recent past towards questions of First Amendment coverage in the context of emerging technologies. Specifically, this article will take a closer look at how courts have dealt with the issue of functionality in the context of First Amendment coverage of computer source code. The analysis of this and other recent experiences, when put in a larger context, reflects a continuing dissatisfaction on the part of both courts and legislatures with the current Supreme Court doctrine on First Amendment coverage. From this discussion, we can also derive some meaningful normative insights regarding the interplay between emerging technologies and First Amendment coverage doctrine. Finally, this article hopes to serve as a stepping stone in a more profound and long term pursuit of a comprehensive theory of constitutional individual rights coverage issues that might serve us well as the future brings unexpected changes in our society.

Download a copy of the paper via SSRN here.

McAlpine v. Bercow and a New Era of ‘Twitter Chill’

May 24, 2013

The decision of Mr Justice Tugendhat in McAlpine v Bercow [2013] EWHC 1342 (QB) (24 May 2013) ["McAlpine"]  is a stern admonition to Twitter users about the perils of practising comedy without a license.

Seriously, in my view, the UK court’s  judgment will have a chilling effect on free speech on Twitter and will likely devolve into an era of social media self-censorship for Twitter users, particularly in the UK. A form of libel chill, or, perhaps “Twitter Chill”.

It also highlights the legal chasm that exists between the American and UK judicial approaches to balancing freedom of expression and protecting reputation. The decision also raises the spectre of a “popularity metric” to determine whether the alleged maker or republisher of the defamatory tweet has gazillions of followers or is just some shlub with 4 followers, three of which are porn bots. (more…)

Mark Donald, “This means war? Baglow v. Smith and online defamation in the blogosphere”

April 17, 2013

Mark Donald  (Student At Law -Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP) has published “This means war? Baglow v. Smith and online defamation in the blogosphere”.

The article comments on the fascinating Baglow v. Smith case and its implications for defamation law in relation to political blogs and online media. It appears to be the only legal paper in existence that references Bob Marley, Thomas Hobbes, Kim Jong-un and the movie “The Untouchables”.

The link to the paper is here.

A link to an introductory summary piece intended for non-lawyers can be found here.

Mohamed Ali Saeh, “Online Defamation and Intermediaries’ Liability: International”

January 10, 2013

Mohamed Ali Saeh (Queensland University of Technology – Faculty of Law) has posted “Online Defamation and Intermediaries’ Liability: International”. The abstract reads:

The Internet technology and the increasing popular World Wide Web have brought enormous benefits to our lives, with their emphasis on free and easy communication. It has become simple for people to buy books, make electronic payment for tickets or goods and even work online. Additionally, information can now be shared a more expedient way amongst a greater number of individuals than even before. As a consequence of this technological advance, it often becomes impossible to identify the source of material made available online and whether that material is subject to copyright infringement, trade mark infringement, and online defamation or is an obscene publication.

In recent years, the Internet technology and the increasing popular World Wide Web have brought enormous benefits to our lives, with their emphasis on free and easy communication. It has become simple for people to buy books, make electronic payment for tickets or goods and even work online. Additionally, information can now be shared a more expedient way amongst a greater number of individuals than even before. As a consequence of this technological advance, it often becomes impossible to identify the source of material made available online and whether that material is subject to copyright infringement, trade mark infringement, and online defamation or is an obscene publication.

According to the article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948, “everyone has the right to freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and import information and ideas though any media regardless of frontiers.” This right is known as “Freedom of expression”. Furthermore, the United Nations, Human Rights Commission expressed that the internet should be used “not only as a means of exchanging and disseminating information, but as a tool to improve the enjoyment of human rights such as freedom of expression”

Although the internet facilitates quick communications between people, it also provides an opportunity for dishonest users to do lasting damage to another’s reputation. This cyber damage not occurs on a wide scale, but also in the inexpensive and most expedient way. As it has been said “sticks and stones can break your bones and even words can hurt you.” The Cyber defamation is intentional infringement to another person’s right to his or her good name. As this type of offence occurs on the internet, it can be seen, heard or read on computers by millions of users worldwide. The victim may be subject to immeasurable moral damage because the information might be incorrect and people might believe it. Therefore, the question raised hear is to determine who is responsible for this online offence such as uploading a file or pictures that contain a defamatory material or sending emails contain such material. Of course, the primary publishers who disseminate the defamatory material will be liable, such as senders of an e-mail messages or web site content providers. However, the issue here is the potential responsibility of the mediator. For instance, Internet service providers (ISPs) and bulletin board operators should be held liable in certain circumstances, because they are able to remove or block offending material. Most countries have attempted to apply and adjust their existing domestic laws to extend to online defamation. However, the issue of potential liability of intermediaries, especially in so far as online defamation is concerned, will require legislative and jurisdictional cooperation to find clear and effective solutions.

Download a pdf copy of the paper via SSRN here.


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