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US Senate Passes 'Libel Tourism' Bill 467

Hugh Pickens writes "AFP reports that the US Senate has passed (by a 'unanimous consent' voice vote) a bill that prevents US federal courts from recognizing or enforcing a foreign judgment for defamation that is inconsistent with the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. If the bill becomes law it will shield US journalists, authors, and publishers from 'libel tourists' who file suit in countries where they expect to get the most favorable ruling. 'While we cannot legislate changes to foreign law that are chilling protected speech in our country, we can ensure that our courts do not become a tool to uphold foreign libel judgments that undermine American First Amendment or due process rights,' said Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy. Backers of the bill have cited England, Brazil, Australia, Indonesia, and Singapore as places where weak libel safeguards attract lawsuits that unfairly harm US journalists, writers, and publishers. The popular legislation is headed to the House of Representatives, which is expected to approve it. 'This bill is a needed first step to ensure that weak free-speech protections and abusive legal practices in foreign countries do not prevent Americans from fully exercising their constitutional right to speak and debate freely,' said Senator Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on Leahy's committee."
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US Senate Passes 'Libel Tourism' Bill

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  • Hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DWMorse ( 1816016 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:22AM (#32976144) Homepage

    Not that I encourage deliberately starting wildfires, but does this encompass protection if you draw Mohammed now?

  • by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:41AM (#32976340) Homepage

    ... this won't help cases like Spamhaus being sued by spammers in the US for defamation and tortious interference.

  • Good on that! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:41AM (#32976344)

    And yes, congrats for not "importing" silly laws.

    Now if you might consider not exporting other silly laws *cough* *cough* DMCA *cough* software and bio patents *cough* ACTA *cough* practically infinite terms on copyright -- I'll start singing your praises loud.

    And yes, the congrats in my first sentence are sincere and genuine!

  • by Noose For A Neck ( 610324 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:50AM (#32976438)
    So I've got to ask: how many libel suits must be pending overseas against BP America/Monsanto/Dow Chemical/United Healthcare/Disney/et al to get Congress to get off their butts and act?
  • Other way around. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AnonymousClown ( 1788472 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:04AM (#32976576)

    A bill that passed the senate that reinforces some portion of our individual liberties. I'm having trouble seeing where the corporate benefit is here.

    I know you're being facetious, but most magazines, radio stations & tv stations are owned by corporations, they can't just have foreigners suing them for their dramatic, yet wildly inaccurate and poorly researched news stories.

    Actually, it's the other way around.

    Where this law came from is because of England. Basically, journalists would publish something about a dictator and regardless of how true it was or where it was published (they always found a way to sue in the UK), the dictator would sue and many times win (England's liable laws are idiotic) - costing the newspaper millions in the process and then they have to retract what they said.

    The Economist reports on this every once in a while.

    Actually, that'd be a trip of the Economist/Financial Times move over here.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:08AM (#32976614)

    Catholicism has a history of marrying off prepubescents until very recently, it still happens in Africa. It is a problem with all religious forms of marriage as far as I know.

    According to everything I can find, the earliest age that Catholicism ever allowed a girl to marry at was 12, which while very young is almost never prepubescent. So please provide a reference to your claim.

  • Re:Hmmm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:32AM (#32976892)

    We may even be dooming ourselves to extinction by breeding so late and making young marriages an anathema.

    It's going to be a race to see what kills us off as a nation sooner. Not breeding enough to replace ourselves or legislate ourselves unto oblivion.

    - Dan.
  • by Wiarumas ( 919682 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:50AM (#32977118)
    Mary had Jesus around the age of 13 or 14, meaning that God had impregnated her around the age of 12 or 13.
  • Re:Hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @09:56AM (#32977192) Homepage Journal

    How does it ever 'make sense' for adults to start having sex with children before they have reached puberty? It does not matter how short life expectancies are. Sex with children just isn't going to produce more children.

    From what I remember, I'm not a professional historian, a lot of the records we DO have are for the better off types of the time. The lowest of the Peasents don't have the record-keeping until later.

    That means assets. Back in the day most marriages(where assets were involved) were economic alliances, if not political ones. The parents would make the deal whenever they could, keeping in mind that 'most' did want the best for their kids. Sometimes marrying a daughter off at nine might make the best sense at the time. Deal would normally be struck for the consumation to wait until a later date. Which even I'll fully admit would normally happen earlier than I'm comfortable with.

    I'd also be careful of confusing 'minimum marriage ages' and actual marriage ages. As mentioned, just because menarch happened a little bit later than is normal today doesn't mean that there weren't variations. There have been cases of girls getting pregnant at 12. The 'world record' is FIVE []. *shudder*

    In an age where the median life expectency was something like 36, yes, there was intense pressure for women to be having kids as soon as they were able. This was generally signaled by menarch, which, while not happening all the time at 12, did happen.

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icebrain ( 944107 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @11:15AM (#32978232)

    I still think its a slippery slope. If specific rights are enumerated that leaves the door open to restrict everything else.

    It can also sometimes lead to a "you have those rights only because 'we' were nice enough and generous enough to give them to you", or a "rights are only granted by the government and not an inherent property of people" kind of mentality. Both carry the unstated implication of "we can take them away if we want".

    But then, if you don't list them at all, what safety net do you have to help protect them?

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle