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Canadian Court of Appeals Decides Website Linking Isn't Libelous 75

Posted by timothy
from the reelect-that-man dept.
inject_hotmail.com writes "I found this promising news over on Michael Geist's website: In an amazing display of wisdom and understanding, British Columbia (Canada) court of appeals (in a split decision) decided that it is not libelous to link to defamatory content. The judge stated that 'there is, in my view, no substantial difference between providing a web address and a mere hyperlink. Whether the hyperlink is a web address, as is often the case, or a more specific reference, both require a decision on the part of the reader to access another website, and both require the reader to take a distinct action, in the one case typing in a web address and in the other case clicking on the hyperlink. In other words, there is a barrier between the accessed article and the hyperlinked site that must be bridged, not by the publisher, but by the reader. The essence of following a hyperlink is to leave the website one was at to enter a different and independent website.' The case was brought about by B.C. businessman Wayne Crookes, who claimed that p2pnet had damaged his character by linking to websites with which he did not agree. Presumedly, the website with the actual content in question is outside of the purview of the Canadian courts; however, p2pnet is not."
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Canadian Court of Appeals Decides Website Linking Isn't Libelous

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  • by tetsukaze (1635797) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:51PM (#29457173)
    It would be good for international trade relations and help us here in the states with our problem with technologically inept judges.
  • by yamfry (1533879) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @03:27PM (#29457673)
    At first I thought it was great that we had a rational and logically intact court decision. Then I thought about how said it was that it happens infrequently enough that it is a news item when it does happen. Now I am depressed and need some Baskin Robbins.
  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dishevel (1105119) * on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:04PM (#29458167)
    Agreed. What worries me though is that one of the three judges thought otherwise.
  • by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@@@eircom...net> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:06PM (#29458207) Homepage Journal

    A site address has to be highlighted, copied and pasted into an address bar in order for the site to be navigated to. A hyperlinked need only be clicked. Once.

    It's obvious to anyone that legally, the hyperlink is no more than text and citation rolled into one entity. But socially and ergonomically, the hyperlink is an invention on par with putting spaces between words and the decimal system. Sure, you could emulate it with older techniques, but you could never replace it.

    The people who bring these cases don't care about legalities. They care about just how easy these links, and the internet in general, make it for other people to access material that they don't want anybody seeing, or doing anything they don't want them to do. The issue for the legal beligerants here is not the legality, but the social and cultural effect of me being able to write the church of Scientology believes in an ancient intergalactic emperor called Xenu. [xenu.net]

    Me writing those words is one thing. Giving a like to a website is another. But merging the together, offing a statement and a place where more can be read is what they detest. It breaks completely the old model they preferred, where media was one way, from distributors to people, and that most information was hard to find and harder to get to. The hyperlink and the internet have the ability to make information equally accessible, anywhere any-time, in a piece of text. What the people bring these case want is to take awy the power of the hyperlink, to try and make it conform to the old rules of distributors liability and one way media. They want to put the genies back in the bottle.

    The media and the legal profession hates the hyperlink. The irreverence and convenience with which it provides and uncovers information is in their eyes a blasphemy towards the intricate, esoteric bureaucracy from which they derive their power. When people like Pamela Jones [groklaw.net] can discuss in a popular way complex laws, suits and legalities using hyperlinked blog posts, this raises questions of why we should defer so much to distributors and legal customs.

    These cases are not so much legal battles, as they are social ones.

"You don't go out and kick a mad dog. If you have a mad dog with rabies, you take a gun and shoot him." -- Pat Robertson, TV Evangelist, about Muammar Kadhafy

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