Libel laws clarified, applies to bloggers as well as reporters

Leaving aside the philosophical question of whether a blogger can be a reporter, the Supreme Court of Canada today outlined new rules to clarify laws on libel, loosely called “responsible communication” (which I have a problem with: shouldn’t all communications,  journalism included, be responsible?) The Court outlined eight factors to be reckoned with in determining responsible communication:

1. The seriousness of the allegation.

2. The public importance of the matter.

3. The urgency of the matter

4. The status and reliability of the source.

5. Whether the plaintiff’s side of the story was sought and accurately reported.

6. Whether inclusion of the defamatory statement was justifiable

7. Whether the defamatory statement’s public interest lay in the fact that it was made rather than its truth (reportage).

8. Other.

It’s heavy reading, but read the actual verdict below, scroll down about three quarters of the way down for the discussion of the points above, or read the CBC summary.

Supreme Court of Canada, December 22 2009

CBC, December 22 2009

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