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Canada Communications Media The Courts

Landmark Canadian Hyperlink Case Goes To Supreme Court 118

An anonymous reader writes "Vancouver businessman Wayne Crookes is trying to reverse a decision by BC Supreme Court judge Stephen Kelleher that linking is not the same as publishing. He's been given permission to appeal it to the Supreme Court of Canada. If he wins, it could mean the end of the net in Canada and will reverberate around the world. 'The notion that someone might be considered a publisher merely by linking to someone else's content, I think could have a potentially huge chilling affect [sic] and, for that reason alone, is going to have a major impact on the shape of the Internet in Canada,' says Ottawa law professor Michael Geist. Hyperlinking is what the web is all about, says p2pnet founder Jon Newton. 'Without it, the Internet would become a drab and pale facsimile of the exciting news, data and information medium it is today. Instead, each item would be isolated from every other item, and online defamation lawsuits aimed at anyone and everyone with a Web site would instantly become commonplace.'"
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Landmark Canadian Hyperlink Case Goes To Supreme Court

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  • Re:WTF (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Sunday April 04, 2010 @09:52AM (#31723694)

    Upon some additional research, it appears that very pun, surely an obvious one, is one of the many things he's suing over: He alleges that it was libelous for some websites to refer to him and his associates as a "gang of Crookes".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 04, 2010 @09:53AM (#31723698)

    Look at German web sites. Many have a disclaimer about the links on the site (translation follows): "Mit Urteil vom 12. Mai 1998 hat das Landgericht Hamburg entschieden, daß man durch die Ausbringung eines Links die Inhalte der gelinkten Seiten sich zu eigen macht. Dies kann nur dadurch verhindert werden, dass man sich ausdrücklich von diesem Inhalt distanziert. Für alle Links gilt: Ich distanziere ich mich hiermit ausdrücklich von allen Inhalten aller gelinkten Seiten auf meiner Homepage." Translation: "The Hamburg district court has ruled on the 12th of May 1998 that placing a link appropriates the content of the linked page. This can only be avoided by expressly distancing oneself from the content. The following applies to all links: I distance myself expressly from the content of all pages linked from my homepage."

    This disclaimer is obviously bogus, because why would anyone flat out distance themselves from all links and still place those links. A blanket disclaimer can not be used to expressly distance oneself from all linked content. It says as much in the very ruling which is referenced in the disclaimer! Another problem with the disclaimer is that the ruling never actually became legally binding.

    However, the notion that linking to a defaming page can be interpreted as an act of defamation itself does exist and many people have become cautious where they link to, and not just in the context of defamation either: At least one well known magazine has had injunctions filed against them for placing links to DVD copying software publisher SlySoft in online articles about the events surrounding SlySoft.

  • Context (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stanislav_J ( 947290 ) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @09:57AM (#31723726)

    If you read the previous articles about this yahoo's quixotic quest, you'll find that he's not attacking the general notion of hyperlinking per se, but whether linking to allegedly defamatory content is, in and of itself, an act of defamation. To me, that's like saying that if a print newspaper publishes something libelous or defamatory, then anyone advertising, selling, or telling you where you can buy that newspaper is also guilty of defamation. The previous ruling seems to establish a test of context -- a mere link to the material is not actionable, but a link actively promoted in the context of implying that the content is true might be.

    But in any case, hyperlinking is not "publishing," and a blanket ruling to that effect would be incredibly ignorant. There are ways to deal with the specific parameters of this case without causing collateral damage to the Net and undermining the very basic concepts that make it what it is.

  • Re:WTF (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 04, 2010 @10:25AM (#31723904)

    Apparently he's a former official of the Canadian Green Party who is butthurt that people say mean things about him on the internet.

    I just hope this lawsuit provides enough cover for him to get the horses and the Thai ladyboys out of the country before the press finds out.

  • by eggnoglatte ( 1047660 ) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @11:49AM (#31724502)

    Remember, there are less people in Canada that in Los Angles, and a lot friendlier.

    Not even close.

    Population of metropolitan LA: 17.7 million [google.com]

    Population of Canada: 33.3 million [google.com]

  • by decoy256 ( 1335427 ) on Sunday April 04, 2010 @11:51AM (#31724518)

    Actually, money is not the deciding factor on what goes to the Supreme Court. In fact, there are countless cases where the appellant is indigent.

    The Supreme Court is most interested in cases where an important question of law is at issue. Not granting certiorari (i.e. not hearing a case -- usually just abbreviated "cert") just means that the Supreme Court feels that either the question isn't important and/or the appellate court got it right, so they don't want to waste time on it.

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.