Friday, September 5, 2008

Writing risks - slander not libel?

Online comments are more like slander than libel, says judge :: Shane Richmond: "Defamatory comments on internet “bulletin boards” are more likely to be slanderous than libelous, a High Court judge ruled last month. The judgment came just as I was going on holiday, which is my excuse for missing it until now, but it raises interesting questions for comments on newspaper sites.

First, though, the judgment itself. In a libel case concerning comments posted on an investor’s bulletin board, Mr Justice Eady said that such comments are “contributions to a casual conversation (the analogy sometimes being drawn with people chatting in a bar) which people simply note before moving on; they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out.”

This, Mr Justice Eady said, makes them “much more akin to slanders (this cause of action being nowadays relatively rare) than to the usual, more permanent kind of communications found in libel actions.”

However, he emphasised that he was not saying “that blogging cannot ever form the basis of a legitimate libel claim”."
Worth noting from The Telegraph - kind of murky waters generally... but it's interesting to see that a different mindset is being attributed to comments published on the internet to other forms of written libel.


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