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.

Internet to be reclassified as broadcast media?

A BLOG posting by Jesse Hirsh and a press release draws our attention to a motion filed against the libel claim of York professor David Noble which could significantly affect broadcast law and Internet activities.

The York University Foundation (YUF) has filed a motion to strike down Noble's claim of libel because the press release that Noble claims defamed him, which was issued on the Internet, should fall under broadcast libel law.

While the Internet does allow broadcast-style communications (multicast packet routing, streaming, etc), a press release posted to a website does not qualify. In the language of WIPO, this press release was made available "to the public" ... "in such a way that members of the public may access these works from a place and at a time individually chosen by them". (WIPO Copyright Treaty, Article 8)

Quebecor Inc. chief Pierre Karl Péladeau launches "defamation" attack in CTF debate..

A Globe and Mail article by Bertrand Marotte and Simon Tuck includes:

The Quebec Superior Court suit filed yesterday alleges that Radio-Canada vice-president Sylvain Lafrance damaged Mr. Péladeau's reputation and that of his company when he was quoted in the daily Le Devoir as saying that Mr. Péladeau was "behaving like a hooligan" -- se promène comme un voyou -- by withholding his share of the funding for the Canadian Television Fund (CTF).

Wikipedia describes Hooliganism as "slang for unruly and destructive behaviour". It seems that the lawsuit is aimed to prove the validity of using the term.

Canada, a haven for libel lawsuits

This p2pnet article by Dan Burnett includes:

Why do by plaintiffs outside Canada bring libel suits against non-Canadian defendants such as the New York Post and Washington Post in our courts? The answer is that they likely have good legal advisors who correctly tell them that Canadian libel laws favour plaintiffs.

Roundtable on Canadian Defamation and Libel Laws Reform (Toronto, Aug 5, 2006 @15:00)

The Roundtable on Canadian Defamation and Libel Laws Reform is today, as is the evening benefit concert. I hope to see many of you there!

Centre for Social Innovation
215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 120
Toronto, Ontario

To hold a roundtable discussion on the problems with Canada's defamation & libel laws preventing online freedom of speech, threatening bloggers with frivolous, hard-to-defend lawsuits. Invite media to raise awareness. Short presentations from speakers followed by a Q&A discussion.

Canadian Libel Law Raises Net Free Speech Chill

Michael Geist's weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, BBC international version, michaelgeist.ca version, p2pnet) places the spotlight on this week's fundraiser in support of P2Pnet.net, a British Columbia-based website that is being sued for defamation for comments posted on the site by its readers. The importance of the Internet intermediary liabilty issue extends well beyond just Internet service providers - corporate websites that allow for user feedback, education websites featuring chatrooms, or even individual bloggers who permit comments face the prospect of demands to remove content that is alleged to violate the law.

Lawsuits threaten to chill online freedom of expression

(Additional information on p2pnet)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2006

Lawsuits threaten to chill online freedom of expression

TORONTO, ONTARIO and LAKE COWICHAN, BRITISH COLUMBIA - In May, one of the Internet's most notorious companies, and one of its most controversial personalities, sued a blogger from this tiny community on Vancouver Island. Sharman Networks, the Australia-based owner of the KaZaA file-sharing application, and Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming, launched a suit against Canadian Jon Newton, alleging that an article he posted to his Web site p2pnet.net, and readers' comments in response to it, were libelous. The plaintiffs also demanded the identity of the anonymous posters.

Ten Mile Tide Denounces Kazaa Lawsuit Against P2Pnet.net

A press release from the band Ten Mile Tide includes:

Three years ago, executives from Sharman Networks—the parent company for the popular Kazaa P2P filesharing program--asked the independent San Francisco band Ten Mile Tide to work with them in a publicity campaign. To this day, Ten Mile Tide is the most downloaded independent band on Kazaa and has always been very vocal about their support of music file-sharing. For several years, Ten Mile Tide was featured in Kazaa ads and the company assisted with tour publicity for one of the band’s nationwide tours. Throughout this time, Ten Mile Tide has been an avid supporter of Kazaa and has publicly voiced their indignation with the RIAA lawsuits against users of Kazaa. But now things have changed. Ten Mile Tide has announced that they do not support the recent libel lawsuit Nikki Hemming and Sharman Networks have filed against the free speech site P2Pnet.net and as a result no longer choose to associate themselves with Kazaa.

See also: p2pnet

p2pnet Freedom of Speech concert

An article by Jon Newton describes the current state of the lawsuit as well as the following:

Now Canadian indie musician, Fading Ways Records founder and activist Neil Leyton is both writing a Dylanesque song about p2pnet's troubles with Sharman and Hemming, and organizing a benefit concert in Toronto, probably for around August.

See also: p2pnet libel case appeal which contains details on donations.

Sharman escalates p2pnet attack

I am a contributor on p2pnet, so I have been watching the lawsuit against p2pnet for alleged defamation very closely. Since there are now more details being made public on the p2pnet site itself, I wanted to post a BLOG article about it.

Jon says:

Because this isn't about Sharman suing p2pnet . It's about a multi-million-dollar company using its weight to try to stop a small news site from reporting something the company didn't want reported - shades of Steve Jobs and Apple. And it therefore has hugely important implications for the blogosphere, and for the millions of people who've chosen the Net as their principal means of talking to each other.

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