Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ezra Levant On Linking To Libel

In his discussion on the statement of claim filed by Kathy Shaidle and Kate McMillan, Ezra writes:

Warman seeks to establish new defamation law, in the realm of the Internet. In his statement of claim, he wants the courts to hold websites legally responsible not only for what they publish, but for what they link to. By that theory, anyone on the Internet is liable for everyone on the Internet. For you are liable for everyone you link to, and they're liable for everyone they link to (and so are you, too), and so on and so on. It sets up a cascading series of infinite liability.

Fortunately, such a punitive approach to defamation and censorship is not Canadian law. Yet.

The paragraph he is talking about is:

16. These defendants admit that the blogs posted contained a link to the web site of freedominion.ca. These defendants deny that publishing a link amounts to a publication or republication as alleged or at all.

Well, I think both Ezra and our gals' lawyer have got it wrong. I wish I could find a more authoritative source to back up my recollections, but...

In Canada, hyper linking to libel is republishing a libel. Further, if the act of hyper linking can be shown to be hateful, criminal libel penalties can be levied.

Just as an aside, the various Crookes cases are a little bit different. they involve (among other things) trying to sue Michael Geist for maintaining a blogroll that linked to a site that linked to a site containing defamatory material.

4 comments:

rabbit said...

In Canada, hyper linking to libel is republishing a libel.

Whether or not this is true, it seems utterly unworkable in practise. Indeed, it is so unworkable that I have to question it.

Suppose I have a permanent link to the Globe & Mail, for example. If they print something defamatory (which happens on occasion), am I now liable?

A BCer in Toronto said...

If I can prove six degrees or less of separation from a libel, can I sue Kevin Bacon?

Johnathon said...

Because you link to all those Liberal sites, can I sue you for "pain and suffering"?

Paul S said...

The most important sentence in the link; is the opening one:

http://www.lawyerahead.com/research/links-and-linkability-on-the-internet_40.html

"Internet links may create legal liability."

You will need to offer a more persuasive post then the above BCL to demonstrate that simply linking to another website constitutes libel.