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Media Your Rights Online

Media Organizations Join Forces to Fight Canadian Ruling 313

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say dept.
csaila writes "Some of the world's big media outlets (including CBC, CNN, Guardian, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, Reuters, and -- as well as Amazon, AOL, Google and Yahoo) are appealing a Canadian court ruling threatening both free speech and the Net. The ruling stems from a former UN employee who successfully sued the Washington Post in Ontario for libel, arguing that because the Post's Web site carried the story. his reputation had been "damaged" in that province."
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Media Organizations Join Forces to Fight Canadian Ruling

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  • Err, no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps this ruling might threaten the US' part of that thar intarweb, but I don't think the rest of the world's 'free speech' on the web will be too affected.
    • I agree (except that it's Canadian). How is parent troll? This is not some international treaty signed by several countries. And the same thing goes for all "free speech", "journalistic freedom" etc., stories about USA that come on slashdot. It's just USA, it's not the entire world.
  • by Nuclear Elephant (700938) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:29AM (#11898292) Homepage
    Washington Post in Ontario for libel, arguing that because the Post's Web site carried the story. his reputation had been "damaged" in that province.

    Talk about poor journalism. Isn't that supposed to be a comma after story?
  • Canada Eh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by xsbellx (94649) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:29AM (#11898295) Homepage
    Just goes to prove, when it comes to court rulings, we can be just as brain-dead as our beloved American cousins!
  • by PoprocksCk (756380)
    I'm a Canadian, so this partially affects me. I think it's good that we have corporations and organizations at our back defending our right to say what we want to say on the Net.

    Even though they don't really give a rat's ass about us personally (they probably somehow see this is as potential harm to their revenue) I'm glad they're stepping in and doing something about it.

    Mr. Bangoura said, "I have total confidence in our system of justice." So do I.
    • I'm a Canadian too, and while I may love this country, I know better than to trust (or I should say "have confidence in") the legal system. It isn't that different from the US legal system when it comes to court procedure/rulings, and I would know based on my current employment. That aside, hopefully we'll see some repair work done to restore the ability to publish freely - on the web or elsewhere - but who's to say the media is better than the legal system in terms of trustworthiness? (queue creepy music w
    • by Wrexs0ul (515885)
      "...it's good that we have corporations and organizations at our back defending our right..."

      It's Twilight-Zone Slashdot!

      "PoprocksCk was an average soul, then one morning he thanked big money for upholding his freedom of speech. He's entered: the Twilight-Zone!"

      -Matt
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:30AM (#11898299)
    The newspaper moved to have the case dismissed and argued that if it were allowed to proceed in Ontario, any news organization could be sued anywhere over material posted on its website.

    Their defense doesn't appear to be "What we posted that got him fired was truthful", but rather that if you allow the lawsuit to proceed that you could hold anyone responsible for what they post on the Internet anywhere in the world.

    On the one hand, how do you protect true speech if someone who posts it can be sued everywhere in the world, but on the other hand how do you protect everyone in the world from people posting false speech?
    • Not sure I get it either. It does seem suspicious that the suit was able to be successfully filed in Ontario instead of DC, but other than the venue, this is just a plain old libel suit.

      Arguing where the suit is allowed to be filed is just what you do when you're uncertain of your ability to win on the facts ;)
      • by wiredog (43288) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:47AM (#11898377) Journal
        In the US the plaintiff has to prove that what was said was false, and in a case such as this, that there was malice. In the UK the defendant has to prove that what was said is true, which can be much more difficult, especially if off the record sources are used.
      • Simple, people will shop for the most sympathetic courts in the world. Hello 3rd world junita courts.

        However - most courts will only take the case if one of the aggieved parties has a strong tie to the local community.

        This is the one case where I really do hope the American laws prevail. (Sorry to everyone else)
      • There are some courts that are 'better' for trying to win a particular case. For example, if you have a class action suit against a pharmaceuticals company, you do everything in your power to get it heard in the poorest town in the deep south you can find. Apparently for libel, Ontario is the place. Its not always about ability to win, sometimes the size of the overzealous award is what counts ;)
    • by hyphz (179185) * on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:45AM (#11898363)
      > Their defense doesn't appear to be "What we
      > posted that got him fired was truthful", but
      > rather that if you allow the lawsuit to
      > proceed that you could hold anyone responsible
      > for what they post on the Internet anywhere in
      > the world.

      And I think it's probably overblown and paranoid.

      Yea, it means that if a US citizen libels someone in the UK, say, then the UK citizen can sue them *in the UK* because they've suffered damage there. Except it doesn't mean that at all since, after all, what can the UK court do? Put him in prison? He's not in the UK. Make him pay a fine? His money's not in the UK. They'd have to get these things from the US, and the US would refuse.

      Now, if it was a UK citizen who libelled a US citizen, this decision would mean they might wind up standing trial under US libel law. Except it doesn't mean that at all, because this has always been the case, not because of this court decision but because of the US's volume of muscle. Just ask that nice Mr Skylarov.
      • No, the UK court can't put him in prison because libel is a civil and not a criminal matter.

        As for damages, you'd be surprised what reciprocal enforcement proceedings can do. I'm not sure of the US-UK position for libel but it's quite common, where a judgment is obtained against a foreign person, to go off to the foreign courts and ask them to enforce that judgment. It depends what treaties are in force. Plus of course if the person you're suing has any assets in the UK - or in any other country where ther
      • by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:17AM (#11898596) Homepage
        > Make him pay a fine? His money's not in the UK. They'd have to get these things from the US, and the US would refuse.

        Isn't it interesting how they indeed refuse such things, yet demand from other countries that they extradite their citizens to the USA so the USA can apply its own law abroad? In a specific case they went to the point of taking military action even (tho the guy in question no doubt deserved it)

        If people wonder why outsiders consider the USA bad and hypocrit, think about those things again maybe.
        • Hm. I rather agree with the AC who has replied before me. Maybe it's time for other nations to ask why their government doesn't do the same for them?
      • Libel is a CIVIL matter in the US so there is no danger of anyone getting dragged off to court in the US to stand trial for it.
      • There is a current case going on about three UK bankers who US prosecutors are trying to take to court in the US over possible fraud charges - 'illegally gaining money via international banking systems'. The 'offences' were committed in the UK, and consist of 'making $7m after allegedly defrauding former employer Greenwich NatWest, the capital markets division of NatWest, by secretly investing in an "off-balance sheet" Enron partnership'.

        The British Financial Services Authority, Natwest, and the Britis
      • Dimitri Dkylarov was not extradited to the USA. He came into the country of his own free will and was arrested on his way out.
    • rather that if you allow the lawsuit to proceed that you could hold anyone responsible for what they post on the Internet anywhere in the world.

      Why would this be limited to the Internet? I am sure that the paper version of the Washington Post is available for purchase at some place in Ontario. Lots of international newspapers are. If this stands, then the paper version of any newspaper should be suable in just about any country on the planet.
    • I'm thinking Washington Post has a "business presence" in Canada. Otherwise you can't sue anyone in the entire world. (At least not for this, there are some things over which you can do that)
    • by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:01AM (#11898471) Homepage
      Nor me, and based on the content of the linked articles I'd have to side with Cheickh Bangoura on this one. This case isn't about free speech at all, it's about taking responsibility for what you have said or written while using your right to free speech, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. The papers printed something that was found to be untrue by a UN investigation and would undeniably damage someone's reputation whether it was true or not. If the media companies concerned can't prove that they are in the right and the UN's investigation drew the wrong conclusion then they should be liable for damages.

      Still, if the ruling is overturned, Cheickh Bangoura is of course free to make any unfounded allegations about the companies concerned and any of their employees that he sees fit. After all, he'd only be exercising his right to free speech, right?

    • This doesn't really seem about free speech. Truth is the perfect defense against Libel.

      What it is at issure, perhaps, the possible future threat of some BAD Laws with very low standards. The legal equal of a "speed trap" in some backwoods town that only "out of staters" get caught in...
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:32AM (#11898305) Homepage Journal
    What's with the "quotes" around "damaged"? The Post lied about this poor guy, and damaged his reputation: in Toronto and everywhere else people could read it. The Washington Post has a responsibility to check their facts before publishing them. Why are they not accountable for their lies? What about all their other lies? When they damage your reputation in a place, they should pay the price there. These other global media giants are getting behind the appeal because they don't want to be accountable for their lies. Freedom of the press doesn't include freedom to lie, just like freedom to swing my arms doesn't include freedom to punch you in the nose. The damage occurs at your nose, not at my fist.
    • One could argue that the data was visible in Canada only because someone requested that a copy of it was made and sent there and the Washington Post (web server) did so. The judge may be taking a fairly extreme view of 'publishing'.

      So what would have happened if the Washington Post wasn't also incorporated in Canada? Well, that's the deal: if you want the privileges of incorporation then you must take the hit of liability. Effectively the rule says that any arm of a corporation must take responsibility
    • by Aim Here (765712) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:48AM (#11898381)
      The problem isn't with the Post being found to have libelled someone, it's with them being found to be liable in Canada for something they said in Washington DC. The right course of action for this libel victim is to have sued them where the infringing actions took place, which is where the website is, and which is in the US.

      If this sort of thing is allowed to continue, how long before I can be convicted under some foreign dictatorship's censorship laws for something I said a thousand miles away?
      • Would of agreed with this, but the Post was doing business in the area where sued(granted only 1 person). With them doing direct business in the area they should fall under the local laws, IANAL.
        Other wise I would consider it the same as if an airplane passigenr purchase the post in DC and then flew to canada. The paper did not have direct business in canada.
      • And to play devil's advocate: how long until big corporation put their headquarters in a friendly (as in bought) country. I'd hate to see them lie and libell on the Web in impunity because they choose the battleground.
      • If this sort of thing is allowed to continue, how long before I can be convicted under some foreign dictatorship's censorship laws for something I said a thousand miles away?

        The difference is that this is a civil matter between people, not a criminal matter between a government and a person.

        If someone in Canada, Honduras, or anywhere else in the world publicly stated false information about me that caused me significant harm, I too would like the ability to be able to pursue those people.

        Wouldn't you?
      • being found to be liable in Canada for something they said in Washington DC

        So their website was only accessible from DC?

        Anything posted on the net is basically said everywhere. One has to keep in ming the net makes no distinctions regarding geographical or national boundaries. You can't really fault the judge in this case, because the libel did occur in his jurisdiction . Even though the Post was physically located in DC, their internet presence extended to every place with internet accessibility

        • Anything posted on the net is basically said everywhere.

          No, it is said where it originated from, it can be *transmitted* everywhere. I am from Canada, if I call you while you're in the US and say something my words are still being said in Canada while you hear them in the US. This is different from me flying to your location in the US and saying the same words.

          If they were concerned about not breaking Canadian laws, they should have blocked Canada from accessing their web site.

          I only agree with you on
    • by gordo3000 (785698) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:50AM (#11898397)
      The post didn't malliciously lie about this guy. They didn't decide to go after this man by destroyin his reputation(like the McCarthy trials). There was, at the time, some proof that he was involved in illegal activities and the post reported on it. By your exact logic, President Bush could sue almost every media outlet in the world(especially those that post online) because of those false documents about his military record or OJ simpson suing every news outlet that called him a murderer.

      People shouldn't have their hands tied from reporting based on the facts available. Its why we call them reporters and not detectives. I hope this gets struck down simply because if we want to have a society where we are kept up to date we have to allow for these people to report based on bad information once in a while. As long as it wasn't meant to crush the man's reputation out of spite, its fair game(ie. they had a good reason to believe at the time of reporting that this is true).

      Now I will say it would be the responsibility of the Post to probably directly link to that article another article about how he was found not guilty of the crime. But I won't say they need to actually be 100% certain every time they report something that every fact is accurate.
      • by Kombat (93720) <kombat@kombat.org> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:05AM (#11898497) Homepage
        People shouldn't have their hands tied from reporting based on the facts available.

        (Ob. Simpson quote): "Facts, schmacks! Facts can be used to prove anything even remotely true."

        I hope you see the absurdity in your statement. Of course "reports" should be held accountable for what they report. Yes, by all means, they should only report the facts, or clearly note when they are editorializing. Haven't you ever noticed that news outlets are incredibly diligent about always referring to someone as the "alleged driver of the car," or "the individual suspected of ordering the shooting?"

        And for the record, OJ actually does threaten legal action when media outlets publish/broadcast stories referring to him as a "murderer." That's why none of them do it. They always say he was "accused" of murdering his wife, or found "civilly responsible" in civil court. But they never call him a "murderer" outright. They know he could/would sue them.
        • you are missing the point of the case. he is suing, not because they reported him as a liar and thief after he was exonerated, but because they reported about it before he was taken to trial.

          that is what the post did, report on the facts available at that time.

          what you are saying is that if anything is proven even remotely false in the future I should be held against it now. I guess you want our reporters to see into the future? To know the exact outcome of everything they are reporting on as it is hap
      • I don't know why you seem to think it should matter whether or not they had a vendetta against this guy when they reported the story. If I'm injured by a faulty product, the manufacturer is responsible even if they didn't intentionally design the product to hurt. Similarly, a news outlet that irresponsibly reports inaccurate information should be held accountable for damages that result from their irresponsible actions. You don't get a free pass to harm others just because the harm wasn't malliciouly inflic
        • you should read some of the other comments below,
          but I dont mean to imply simply lying is ok. What i am saying is they simply reported on the facts available at the time. This is equivalent to me suing a newpaper because they reported that I am an accused murderer. As I said below, it is equivalent to OJ suing every new organization that reported about him in even a slightly negative sense calling him an accused murderer before the verdict of his trial.

          This case has three very important points being mad
      • However Bush really didn't serve in the military when he was supposed to - fortunate son and all that.

        And the Juice, well the civil court viewed the evidence differently then the judicial court - but he wasn't directly called a murderer by the tv stations - they only implied it for 8 long months of our lives.

        Libel sucks as a group of laws, all about defamation and reputation. But the laws are there if untrue information has caused damage to your life. This poor guy is just trying to get satisfaction fro
        • just RTFA, he originally sued for millions of dollars. I quote the suit:

          (c)Damages against the Washington Post defendants in the amount of $500,000.00 for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage and inducing a breach of employment contract.

          (d Damages against the Washington Post defendants in the amount of $1,000,000.00 for intentional infliction of mental anguish.

          (e Damages against the Washington Post defendants in the amount of $1,000,000.00 for negligence.

          (f) Damages against the P
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:10AM (#11898527) Homepage Journal
      This is a question about the limits of local laws have over content available from sources outside of their domain.

      Yes the post maligned this guy. They may have even lied about it. It does look like they reported what they had without researching it completely. This type of stuff happens all the time.

      The key issue here is that this guy is sueing in Ontario, where he did not live at the time the article was created. Worse he is sueing because the article is still available through archives.

      Bad reporting should be identified but it should never be removed from the public's access. The slippery slope is that if you start to curtail the availability to erroneous documents because they damage someone how long before truthful stuff gets edited or restricted in distribution?

      The only way to prevent offense to people in this persons situation would be to expunge the story from all sources accessible from the net. That is not a solution that I even believe is possible.

  • The only (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WormholeFiend (674934) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:32AM (#11898306)
    protection against libel is the truth.

    Was the media telling the truth about this guy's character or action or whatever?
    • Re:The only (Score:4, Informative)

      by QMO (836285) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:46AM (#11898364) Homepage Journal
      According to the article, the Post published allegations about sexual harassment that got the guy fired. These allegations were later found to be baseless, but the Post has never printed a retraction or made any attempt to make ammends.

      Is this article (in Globeandmail) more trustworthy than the ones (in the Washington Post) that got the dude fired? I don't know, but that's what I get from it.
      • well the Globe & Mail is one of the organizations that is appealing the ruling, so you wouldn't expect them to be 100% impartial.

        I'd like to read the original Washington Post article to see for myself how the "accusations" are worded.
        • To me, how they were worded isn't the issue here. However they were worded, they apparently got him fired, and no one seems to be denying that.
          • Well, I think it's part of the issue because if the people in charge of firing him based their decision on erroneous information, then the guy should probably also sue his former employer for wrongful dismissal.

            However, the fact that the guy isn't suing the people who fired him raises some questions in itself.
  • Man... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DoubleDangerClub (855480) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:33AM (#11898308) Homepage
    I think this is ridiculous. I just can't see how they can try and use internet access as an excuse to make more money out of a court case.

    If this were the case, Paris Hilton could sue for every province that her video was accessible from the internet. In fact, all celebrities could sue someone on these same grounds.br>
    • If this were the case, Paris Hilton could sue for every province that her video was accessible from the internet. In fact, all celebrities could sue someone on these same grounds

      You're not familiar with Fred Durst's latest attempts to sue websites for $70 million, are you?

    • Hello? The suit is for libel. The whole point about libel is that the libel MUST BE UNTRUE. A video can only be a libel if what it depicted didn't happen i.e. it's fictional or misleadingly edited. Now if you showed the Paris video and claimed that in fact the video used a body double because PH is in fact a man, then you'd have a libel.

  • "The story?" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ites (600337) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:33AM (#11898312) Journal
    From the legal documents it looks like the plaintiff sued for libel, and the motion was suspended, but the plaintiff was granted the right to recover costs of around $7,500 (Canadian, one supposes).

    Not at all clear how this affects free speach one way or another.

    • Re:"The story?" (Score:2, Insightful)

      The problem is, it starts at $7,500.00 and continues to get worse. Eventually, no one says anything about anyone or anything for fear of getting hit for millions in damages.
    • The problem is that ((PublishedTruth + 8 Years) != Libel). Any assignment of monetary damages in a case of "libel" is, in fact, a finding for the plaintiff, regardless of whether or not a judicial motion was "suspended". This judicial action is a serious blow to freedom of speech, and could be the death-nell to the internet as we know it. Imagine having an internet-accessable archive of criminal proceedings -- and anyone linking to that archive is now vulnerable to a lawsuit for "libel", and to monetary
  • A different take (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mchawi (468120) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:42AM (#11898346)
    One of the things that I wonder about, not being a lawyer, is how this would actually impact the individual. Let us say that you live in Europe and the Washington Post issued a story on their website (viewed in Europe) that was incorrect, and you wanted to sue for libel. Should you then have to file in the United States - and have to pay charges to go there, legal fees in the US, etc?

    I'm not saying one is better than another, because I can see some benefits to the 'consumer' in both instances. I'm just curious what the law is now, for a newspaper. If the newspaper was sent to Europe and someone sued for libel - do they have to file in the US?

    I guess my concern would be that internet companies based in countries with different laws or other sort of barriers to suing for libel would make it so that they could print anything - or is that already the case?

    I'm just not sure how companies standing up to defend themselves against being sued in a foreign country for publishing rumors and innuendo is a 'free speech' issue. It sounds like they just want to make anyone suing them have to do so in the country where they are hosted.
    • Mo, that's the point. This chap didn't have to sue the Washington Post in Washington, he sued the part of the company that is incorporated in Ontario, for the actions of the part in Washington.

      After I've thought about it for a while, I think his actions were quite correct.

      Justin.

    • What if (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wiredog (43288) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:54AM (#11898430) Journal
      They publish an uncomfortable truth, and it's read online in a country where that particular truth is illegal to express?
      • That's exactly the train of thought that the media companies are trying to raise as part of their defense. However there is a big difference between saying something that is an uncomfortable truth and something that is complete fabrication, which is very likely the case here. The papers are entirely free to do both - that's what the right to free speech gives them - but what they are trying to do here is absolve themselves of any responsibilty for getting it wrong.

        What they are afraid of is this case se

      • Then they better not go to that country. No change, nothing to see here, move along.

        J.
  • CP/M vs. DOS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by northcat (827059) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:49AM (#11898385) Journal
    This can be compared to Tim Paterson suing [slashdot.org] over the "paternity" of MS-DOS. I don't know why no one made any issues about journalistic freedom over that case (even on slashdot).
  • I am shocked! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by deacon (40533)
    Really, people should be more careful about criticizing the UN.

    UN workers are at the forefront of child care [slashdot.org] in the Congo.

    Consider also the swift and effective response of the UN regarding the non-problems [google.com] in Darfur.

    I, for one, feel safer because of the UN.

    • Yeah the UN has an amazing record of stoping genocide world wide. I feel safer already.
      • Well, you can thank the USA for that. Every time the UN wants to call something genocide and move out, the USA says that its not and stalls until enough people are dead that the point is moot.
  • by Ulric (531205) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @08:55AM (#11898442) Homepage
    If a newspaper or anybody else makes baseless accusations of serious crimes against somebody and refuses to retract them, surely that's illegal not only in Canada but anywhere?

    It would be much easier to know whom to side with after reading what the newspaper wrote.

  • So, what's going to happen here?

    I mean, imagine tha WaPo failed to defend itself. Would the judge be able to forbid the sale of the WaPo in that province? And then forbid the viewing of the WaPo web site in the province?

    Are we going to see judges impose PRC-style blocks on national internet access, based on a given country's laws concerning libel?
  • Libel (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Vollernurd (232458) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:08AM (#11898512)
    IIRC, libel is where whatever is being sued-over is untrue. So what's the big deal here? Most newspaper web sites carry stories from their print versions. Just because something is stored on a web server does not mean that it can be a lie. Or have I misunderstood?
  • by miskatonic alumnus (668722) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:10AM (#11898528)
    the lawyer named Roach. That's priceless.
  • Note that there is no "Ruling" as suggested by the article here. The only decision that has been made is that the man's case can be heard in an Ontario court. Hold those knees back for now, folks.
  • The ruling essentially boils down to the observation that, when you post on the Web, you post everywhere. I don't see recognition per se of this obvious fact as a threat to free speech or the WWW.

    The problem seems to be that in some parts of the world it apparently is possible to be sued for reporting the fact that *someone else* has made allegations, the subject of which finds them unwelcome. Your average USian finds that a very strange definition of "libel" and it's not surprising that people at a U.S.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:41AM (#11898809) Homepage
    ... that our laws stop at our borders.

    I totally agree that journalists should be exempt from libel lawsuits without a showing of malice.

    But that doesn't mean the rest of the world has to agree with us. They are free to set their own laws and to ignore ours.
  • by spiritraveller (641174) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @09:52AM (#11898919)
    This ruling does not say that you can be sued in Canada for posting something on your website in New York. It says that the Washington Post can be sued in Canada... because they do business there!

    If your company does business in a country, it should be suable in that country. Freedom of the Press should provide protection under the substantive law of a country... but it just goes way too far to give complete protection from any jurisdiction.

    Basically, the Washington Post wants a sort of diplomatic immunity for the press... which is absurd.
  • Since it's only Libel if it's not true, then I say yes. Make the newspapers ensure that they are publishing the FACTS not the guesses. Make them responsable for what they write sinc if it's true no court would punish them for writing it anyway.
  • by StandardCell (589682) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @10:39AM (#11899395)
    Most of you who aren't Canadian aren't aware of the severe restrictions on free speech in Canada. For one, "hate" speech is restricted, i.e. you cannot disparage a particular identifiable group. This is why Ernst Zundel was just deported to Germany for spreading "hate" and Jim Keegstra was convicted of spreading hate. The reality is that, while they should have lost their jobs, they shouldn't have been arrested and convicted for saying what they did.

    Even more significant is the freedom of the press, where journalists had their personal files seized unilaterally by police who were trying to investigate a "leak" in their department due to corruption [www.caj.ca]. At least those reporters in the US who refused to identify their sources probably still have what they have.

    The reality, however, is that the only cure for the negative aspects of free speech is more free speech. As long as someone is not specifically attempting to incite violence or other acts of crime against an individual, or is commiting libel, they should be able to say whatever they want. A great article on the erosion of free speech rights in Canada is available here [nationalreview.com].

    One thing is certain - even though the US may not be to many /.ers the most welcoming place for free speech lately, there are other places that are far worse.
  • He also said Mr. Bangoura didn't move to Ontario until 2000, long after the story appeared.

    This is the part that really sucks about this. It wasn't even a crime in Ontario when they published this. He moved there afterwards, and then got upset. This should have been thrown out as ex post facto the moment it was filed. Instead some stupid judge ruled for him. This has got to be overturned, and hard. Otherwise the court is basically claiming that The Washington Post should have been able to see into

  • I don't get this one. Media organizations want to, what, limit the venue here?

    The damage occured in Ontario, the Post is international. It has an office in Toronto, and subscribers, and an INTERNET site that continued to publish the material.

    There is no connection between most of the defendents and Ontario, but they don't have a connection with Washington either. It's a push.

    The damage, however, occured in Ontario. And so Ontario gets jurisdiction.

    Of course, the ruling may not be enforced in the U.S. Bu
  • by rfc1394 (155777) <Paul@paul-robinson.us> on Thursday March 10, 2005 @12:51PM (#11901084) Homepage Journal
    While I am not a lawyer, I am aware of the issue of multi-jurisdictional libel suits where the defendant is sued in a court to which they have no presence, and the issue has already been decided.

    In Griffis v. Luban, 646 N.W.2d 527 (July 11, 2002), the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Katherine Griffis could not enforce a default judgement from Alabama on a libel suit filed against Mariane Luban, a resident of Minnesota, for Luban's allegedly libelous comments about Griffis on Usenet News, because Ms. Luban has no presence in, and does not do business, in Alabama and the mere publication on the Internet did not give the courts in Alabama jurisdiction over her. The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari on appeal, so the case represents the law as it stands now in the U.S. From the syllabus (summary) of the case:

    A nonresident defendant is not subject to a foreign court's jurisdiction under the effects test from
    Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 79 L. Ed. 2d 804, 104 S. Ct. 1482 (1984), absent a showing that: (1) the defendant committed an intentional tort; (2) the plaintiff felt the brunt of the harm caused by that tort in the forum such that the forum state was the focal point of the plaintiff's injury; and (3) the defendant expressly aimed the tortious conduct at the forum such that the forum state was the focal point of the tortious activity.

    This is further bolstered by other cases, of which someone posted a list, include Barrett v. Catacombs Press, 44 F. Supp.2d 717 (E.D. Pa.1999); English Sports Betting, Inc. v. Tostigan, 2002 WL 461592 (E. D. Pa. March 15, 2002); Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F. 3d 256(4th Cir. 2002); Pavlovich v. Superior Court of Santa Clara County, 58 P. 3d 2 (Cal. 2002).

    This goes along with the general rule that a person should only be expect to be subject to suit where they maintain some presence. To provide otherwise would be manifest insanity as you couldn't defend yourself from thousands of lawsuits filed in courts all over the country where you have no involvement and no reason to expect to be sued. Now this would, of course, be a big problem if you're in an accident in your home town and the guy who hit you lives 1,000 miles away; you might not be able to afford to sue them for damages if it's minor. But they solved that one. When you operate an automobile, and you are involved in an accident, under the Drivers' License Compact, you agree to allow the administrator of the Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent agency of the state where the accident occurred to accept service on your behalf if you are not a resident of that state. Thus if you are involved in an accident, you may be sued in the state where you reside or in the state where the accident occurred, but you can't be sued in the state where the plaintiff lives or anyplace else because there is no jurisdiction.

    The Washington Post does not do business in the Province of Ontario, has no contacts with it, and its article wasn't targeting Ontario specifically, thus under U.S. Law there is no grounds for them to be sued in Ontario for what they wrote in a newspaper and a website which are published in the District of Columbia. Even if the plaintiff wins, they can't get a judgement enforced here because of lack of jurisdiction, so it's a pyrrihic victory if they can even prove it to be libelous.

  • Over how much? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Revvy (617529) on Thursday March 10, 2005 @07:20PM (#11905622) Homepage
    For the past several years, according to the judge's decision, case law has clearly stated that online publishers cannot feign ignorance of the global reach of their publications.

    Is this decision really threatening free speech and the gloabl dissemination of information? If that information is libelous, I surely hope so. Sounds to me like some companies that benefit from glabalization aren't liking some of the effects. For a $7000 (Canadian, even) judgement, there sure is a lot of heavy lawyering going on.

    Everything everywhere. Wasn't that the point?

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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