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The Courts

UK Libel Law Is a Global Threat To Web Free Speech 363

uctpjac writes "London media lawyer Emily MacManus argues that UK libel law has three features which make it the 'defamation tourism' capital of the world and a serious threat to Web free speech. First, there is no free speech presumption in the UK as there is, for example, in the US. Second, every access of a Web page is considered to be a separate act of publication in the UK (unlike the US, where 'original publication' holds). Third, 'no-win-no-fee' libel litigation is now allowed in the UK. If any blog, anywhere, publishes something you'd like taken down, threaten libel action in the UK: no one except the super-rich can afford to even take these cases to court, so media lawyers advise publishers to 'take it down, take it down quickly, take it down again.' There's not much chance that the judges will move the law any time soon because they just aren't seeing the cases that could cause them to set new precedent."

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"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." -- Artemus Ward aka Charles Farrar Brown