Sunday, March 19, 2006

Internet Libel Cases Database

Last week, the CanWest News Service distributed an article underlining the slow but steady rise in libel suits involving online speech [here is the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix version].

The article quotes Vancouver libel lawyer Roger McConchie as saying "The Internet is the single most important reason for the increase in the number of libel lawsuits in this country."

McConchie, the co-author of a textbook on Canadian libel law, maintains a website that lists Canadian court decisions involving the "publication of allegedly defamation expression via the Internet".

The website organizes the court decisions under the following headings:
  • Jurisdiction (does the court have the power to hear the case?)
  • Notice of Intended Action
  • Limitations Defences
  • Defamation Damage Awards
  • Substantive Defences
  • Miscellaneous Cyber Libel Issues

The CanWest article explains McConchie's view that "most Internet libel cases in which damages are awarded are those in which the person responsible for the offensive material refuses to remove it once they are warned that it may be defamatory... the activist atmosphere of the online world sometimes prevents defamatory posters from backing down."

According to commentators, people with a desire for revenge, who are just malicious, or who think they can't be touched because they are online now have a technological megaphone to amplify potentially libellous rumours that will be picked up and disseminated by search engines.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:19 pm


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