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Supreme Court stands up for the Internet

Old 10-23-2011, 02:02 PM
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Default Supreme Court stands up for the Internet

The Supreme Court of Canada last week issued its much anticipated ruling on the potential liability for linking to allegedly defamatory content on the Internet. The court provided a huge win for the Internet as it clearly understood the “link” between freedom of expression and Internet linking by providing strong protections for all Internet users that link to online content.

The issue before the court was whether links to content should be viewed as republication of that content for the purposes of defamation law. P2Pnet.net, a B.C.-based website, featured links to another website that contained the contentious content (whether the content was actually defamatory was never proven in court). The plaintiff argued that linking to the offending content should be enough to hold both the original poster and the linker liable.

The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed, upholding a B.C. Court of Appeal decision dismissing the lawsuit. The majority of the Supreme Court supported reasons from Justice Rosalie Abella, who concluded “a hyperlink, by itself, should never be seen as ‘publication’ of the content to which it refers.”

The decision included three standards for when a link could raise liability issues. The one adopted by the majority of the court was the highest threshold articulated by Abella, who found that only links that repeat the defamatory content should be considered published by the linker. Two concurring opinions argued for lower standards including (1) a link that contains text endorsing or adopting the defamatory content or (2) a deliberate act to make the information readily available.

Read more: http://www.thestar.com/article/10746...r-the-internet
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