Group Presentation: Trends in Online Defamation

Hi everyone!

Trends in Online Defamation – T Hunt S Arbor

Above is the link to my and Trevor’s group presentation; there is audio embedded in each slide (grey icon), but I think you may need to download the presentation to make it work. Our topic was an overview of online defamation.

We would recommend reading Crookes v Newton (2011 SCC 47):

N owns and operates a website in British Columbia containing commentary about various issues, including free speech and the Internet.  One of the articles he posted on it contained shallow and deep hyperlinks to other websites, which in turn contained information about C.  C sued N on the basis that two of the hyperlinks he created connected to defamatory material, and that by using those hyperlinks, N was publishing the defamatory information.  At trial, the judge concluded that the mere creation of a hyperlink in a website does not lead to a presumption that someone actually used the hyperlink to access the impugned words.  The judge agreed that hyperlinks were analogous to footnotes since they only refer to another source without repeating it.  Since there was no repetition, there was no publication.  Furthermore, in the absence of evidence that anyone other than C used the links and read the words to which they linked, there could not be a finding of publication.  A majority of the Court of Appeal upheld the decision, finding that while some words in an article may suggest that a particular hyperlink is an encouragement or invitation to view the impugned site, there was no such encouragement or invitation in this case.  In addition, the number of “hits” on the article itself was an insufficient basis for drawing an inference in this case that a third party had read the defamatory words.  The dissenting judge held that there was publication.  The fact that N’s website had been viewed 1,788 times made it unlikely that no one had followed the hyperlinks and read the impugned article.  Furthermore, the context of the article suggested that readers were encouraged or invited to click on the links.

If you are curious about the privacy/copyright case mentioned (Duchess of Sussex v Associated Press), it is linked below.

Duchess-of-Sussex-v-Associated-2021-EWCH-273-Ch

 

Samantha & Trevor

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