Thursday, September 17, 2009

Linking Not Libelous Says Canadian Court

Tags: canada, defamation

Sadly, courts generally seem out of touch when it comes to how to apply the law to the internet. In a rare win for common sense, a Canadian court has declared that it's not libelous to link to defamatory content. While it is disturbing that the decision was not unanimous, it's still an important decision that should help protect websites from rediculous lawsuits in the future.

I completely agree that while free speech needs to remain a protected right, most forms of defamation should not be tolerated. With that said, a person who links to another site that is the source of the defamation, shouldn't be held responsible for the words on the linked page. If the Canadian court ruled that such hyperlinking could be consider libel, it'd open some potentially dangerous floodgates. Imagine all the sites (such as this) that have contextual based advertising on it. Contextual ads are dynamically generated and can be linking to any number of websites at any given time. If a site owner could be held accountable for what those ads linked to, it could very well cripple that form of advertising - a form of advertising many websites survive on.

In the end common sense prevailed and we can all hope for continued rational thinking in the various courts of the world.