Mon 22nd October 2007, 7:16pm
QUOTE(thekohser @ Mon 22nd October 2007, 6:16pm)
What do people think is the duration where a clearly libelous edit of a wealthy and celebrated person becomes realistically actionable in a court of law?
I know some of you are going to say "two seconds is too long", and I would morally agree with you. But, let's be serious about the "realistically actionable" criterion. I'm thinking that 20 hours is starting to approach an actionable limit. I think that 3 full days definitely would be.
I wonder how many other libelous edits are just lurking out there, but nobody's noticed them yet?
According to UK law, which would be much more sympathetic to the
person libelled than US law, I don't think the amount of time is the issue,
as long as they have an innocent dissemination defence.
QUOTE('UK's Defamation Act 1996')
In defamation proceedings a person has a defence if he shows that—
(a) he was not the author, editor or publisher of the statement complained of,
(b) he took reasonable care in relation to its publication, and
(c ) he did not know, and had no reason to believe, that what he did caused
or contributed to the publication of a defamatory statement.
Now, a relevant case in the UK would be Godfrey v Demon Internet Ltd
) Basically, the the UK court ruled that Demon failed to
have a defence under b and c of the above law after they had been
asked by the subject to remove the defamatory material
defamatory material remained on Demon's servers for 10 days before
it was removed, so Godfrey sued for damages from that period of time.
A couple quotes:
QUOTE('Mr. Justice Morland)
The defence of innocent dissemination has never provided an absolute
immunity for distributors, however mechanical their contribution. It does
not protect those who knew that the material they were handling was
defamatory, or who ought to have known of its nature. Those safeguards
are preserved, so that the defence is not available to a defendant who
knew that his act involved or contributed to publication defamatory of the
plaintiff. It is available only if, having taken all reasonable care, the
defendant had no reason to suspect that his act had that effect.
QUOTE('Mr. Justice Morland')
The impact of the First Amendment has resulted in a substantial Disclaimer: Not a lawyer in any country.
divergence of approach between American and English defamation law.
For example in innocent dissemination cases in English law the
Defendant publisher has to establish his innocence whereas in American
law the Plaintiff who has been libelled has to prove that the publisher was