Supreme Court ruling helps bloggers

The Supreme Court of Canada has just made a major ruling on defamation. Up to now, the law said that not only was the source of a defamatory comment liable to prosecution, so was anyone who transmitted the defamation. Thus, not only was Don Cherry at risk for his “pukes” comments of late, so was the CBC for broadcasting them, and any other media for further broadcasting them (and hence the apology, once the CBC lawyers put a legal gun to Cherry’s head, I presume). Anyway, the Supremes announced in a unanimous ruling that people who hyperlink in digital media are not liable to prosecution if they link to a defamatory statement. This is a wonderful admission of reality by the SCOC. There’s so much going on it’s impossible to track all the hyperlinking. Now, if they’d do the same and waive copyright permission for every quote used on the web…

“The internet cannot, in short, provide access to information without hyperlinks. Limiting their usefulness by subjecting them to the traditional publication rule would have the effect of seriously restricting the flow of information and, as a result, freedom of expression,” the ruling said. “The potential ‘chill’ in how the internet functions could be devastating, since primary article authors would unlikely want to risk liability for linking to another article over whose changeable content they have no control. ”

CBC, Oct. 19 2011

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