Mediations: Philip Young

  • Mediations comments on public relations theory and practice, with an emphasis on social media and communication ethics. Philip Young is project leader for NEMO: New Media, Modern Democracy at Campus Helsingborg, Lund University, Sweden. All views expressed here are personal and should not be seen as representing Lund University or any other organisation.

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    This is indeed a fascinating, 2 points:

    (i) are you at risk of being sued for libel because you are blogging about bloggers taling about this and thus spreading the content?

    (ii) Is linking to a story and the same as repeating it in print?

    I agree: very intresting stuff. I guess a lot of bloggers never think twice about some of the consequences of their publications. I admit I probably belong to that category too. A good thing there are some watchdogs awake out there.

    In the U.S., the California state supreme court ruled last week that websites that publish "inflammatory information" written by other parties can't be sued for libel. I expect it'll go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Anyway, I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition to your post...

    Alan, with regard to your first query, it depends how much of the libellous allegations you carry in discussing the matter. The litigant if he chooses to sue someone discussing the case would have to show the court the same things - defamation, identification, publication - and if those three requirements were satisfied in a 'discussion' of the issue then it could leave one open to a libel action.

    As for point two, that would depend on whether a court decided that a link was 'publication'. A claimant might argue that by providing a link you are providing a means of access and therefore publishing.

    I haven't seen a case that involves this question yet - can you be sued for a weblink - so I'm only guessing what a claimant might try.

    Yes all very interesting. For me, having provided a link to the original post, I considered it "safe" to do so from thinking along the same lines as:

    The likelihood of any of this happening in this particular case may be very small.

    Fast forward to if this individual is apprehended and I would say then the picture needs to come off in case his legal team say "identity is an issue." But that's playing safe against contempt rather than defamation isn't it?

    But having read Jackie's original post and bearing in mind the 'small likelihood' aspect, I have to say none of this took precedence over expressing my support and empathy for her.

    When I worked on a publication based not a million miles from you, the then editor would pace around the newsroom saying: "Let them sue!" This was from an informed position.

    But would this individual want to bring suit and risk having Danicki testify against him on behalf of the defendant blogger, as she inevitably would?


    That's a resonable point of view for those who know Jackie personally.

    However, making allegations without having the proof of them to hand is very risky. If you are going to claim justification (truth) as your defence to a libel action you've basically got 28 days to show the court you have a realistic proposition of mounting such a defence.

    If you can't do that, the claimant can ask for summary judgement and then it's purely a question of how much the judge is going to award against you in damages.

    This is a very interesting discussion. I just happened to have read about "Holla Back" where women who are being verbally harassed can post their frustrations, including pictures of the harassers.

    Of course those sites fall under U.S. jurisdiction, but it is the same concept nonetheless. I wonder if they will face legal problems in the future, as its content grows.

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