Libel and blogs

Glenn Reynolds writes a good paper on libel and bloggers from both a legal and a cultural perspective. Wish it were in HTML but the PDF is here.

Also, see the list of legal actions against bloggers maintained most helpfully by Eric Robinson of the Media Law Research Center. And while we’re at it, here‘s my recent Comment is Free post on libel law in the age of the internet. I’m working with folks who are trying to put together a web site that gives you the top 10 things you need to know to stay out of court; stay tuned.

  • Jim Wilson

    Jeff: I assume you already know about a similar site maintained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation at

    It’s been up for about a year now, and appears to be updated occasionally.

  • somefeller

    In your article, you favorably quote a statement from a blogger-law professor friend stating: “libel laws are out-of-date in a time when the victims of defamation have the means of response via the internet that they never had in print or broadcast”.

    That may be true to the extent that she (and presumably, you) mean anyone can start a blog to respond to defamatory writings, but why does that change anything? The fact that a defamed person may respond by starting their own blog doesn’t make the original defamatory statement any less defamatory. The nature of the statement and intent of the speaker stand on their own, regardless of what the victim of defamation says or does after the fact.

    Also, there is, and should be, no “duty to blog” on the part of defamation plaintiffs. Creating such a duty is economic burden-shifting (time spent crafting a response, possible out-of-pocket costs, general time value of money, etc.) to a party who, in many if not most cases, was not a voluntary economic participant in the actions at issue. Frankly, it looks to me like all you and your blogger-law professor friend are doing is arguing for a rule to make it easier for bloggers to get away with what otherwise would be clear cases of libel, and it seems to me that the burden is on those proposing a change in the rules to come up with a justification for the change.

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  • E F Orwell

    The UK Libel Laws have taken another step into the abyss and could signal the end of Free Speech. A UK based media club, The Groucho Club which is owned by a billion pound corporation ‘Graphite Capital’ have launched a one of kind High Court action for a pre publishing test case for libel against Tyrone D Murphy, the author of an exposé book about the club. The book has not been completed yet and the case seems to be based on what could be written and not what has been written. is the book web site

    What do you make of this type of case where a legal action can be taken against a writer of a book that has not been written yet. This action is certainly a threat against all writers and journalists