Defamation (Slander and Libel)

The common law origins of defamation lie in the torts of slander (harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech) and libel (harmful statement in a fixed medium, especially writing). Canada's laws in this area are very out of touch with modern communication realities.

An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom)

While not related to Copyright, I wanted to mention bill C-304 which I have been following.

Among other things, it repeals section 13 of of the Canadian Human Rights Act, something I am strongly in favor of.

The linking between defamation and copyright

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled in favor of Newton in the Crookes v. Newton, declaring that this specific use of linking to allegedly defamatory material did not constitute publishing. A number of people have suggested this has links to policy discussions in copyright where sites like ISOHunt that allegedly "just link" to content should be equally immune (See article by Jesse Brown as an example).

I think this requires more than a cursory look at both what the Supreme Court said and the policy being proposed to be added within C-11.

Full Interview: Can a hyperlink be libellous?

CBC's Spark has a full interview with David Fewer on the Crookes v. Netwon case. If you agree this case is important, please donate to the defence fund.

p2pnet wins landmark ‘linking’ defamation case

Congrats for how well the case has gone thus far. You can read more details on p2pnet.

Vancouver man's lawsuit against Yahoo! dismissed

CBC news published an article discussing the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of Wayne Crookes lawsuits against online publication of things which he doesn't like. I don't consider any of this to be about defamation as I've not yet seen anything I would personally consider defamatory. I believe that people should be responsible for the things they say online, but strongly believe that people should be held even more responsible for threatening or launching frivolous lawsuits (Or worse, SLAPP as these cases appear to be).

Dalhousie gets Facebook animal research site yanked

An interesting article by Charles Mandel for CanWest News Service talks about a facebook group being yanked. At first glance you might think I would be opposed to such a thing, but in this case the institution simply wanted a "right of reply" to correct misinformation. To me free speech is both a right and a responsibility.

Charles Crosby, a spokesman for the school, said the school hasn’t used any dogs in its research for well over a decade.
Crosby said so long as debate occurred around the subject, the school didn’t have a problem, but once discussion was discontinued, the school took action.

A letter to the National Post regarding internet anonymity

A BLOG entry by Mark Francis includes a letter to the editor in reply to a recent National Post article regarding internet anonymity that referenced the Wayne Crookes cases.

With repressive laws like these still ‘on the books’, it is no wonder why so many people choose to be anonymous online. The answer is not to crack down on anonymity, but to take libel law out of the hands of long dead aristocrats and robber barons and back into the hands of the people these laws should be serving: You and I.

Lawsuits Put Online Free Speech At Risk

Michael Geist's weekly law bytes deals with the Wayne Crooks defamation cases. (Toronto Star version, Homepage version)

Despite garnering only limited media attention, two recently filed defamation lawsuits in British Columbia have the potential to reshape free speech on the Internet in Canada. The suits pit Wayne Crookes, a B.C.-based businessman, against a who's who of the Internet, including Yahoo!, MySpace and Wikipedia. Those companies are accused of defaming Crookes not by virtue of anything they have said, but rather by permitting their users to post or link to articles that are allegedly defamatory.

Please remember: Michael Geist's BLOG always has must-read articles on it. I don't want to flood this BLOG with duplicates of all his articles, so strongly recommend anyone reading this feed to also read his!

Bloggers under attack?

Two messages came to me today. I doubt they are linked, but who knows. One pointing to the fact that p2pnet has been named in an additional online libel case (This time for --gasp-- daring to link to a website that had allegedly defamatory material on it), and one pointing to the site that Kevin McArthur took down due to "increasing legal concerns resulting from our public participation in the Net Neutrality debate".

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