In desmogblog.com Richard Littlemore reports, Climate Scientist Sues National Post, on a defamation case brought by Canadian climate scientist Dr Andrew Weaver against the National Post newspaper and its publisher, editors and three writer: Terence Corcoran, Peter Foster and Kevin Libin. The report includes a link to the statement of claim lodged by Dr Weaver.
Just to summarise a few key points as I understand them:
- The National Post appears to be published in Ontario. The case was lodged in British Columbia where Dr Weaver lives on the basis that the on-line material was available in BC.
- Dr Weaver alleges that the National Post, its writers and intenet commentators defamed him over his views on climate change.
- In addition to damages, Dr Weaver is asking for a Court order requiring the newspaper to help track down and remove defamatory material. Part of his argument here is that the paper via things such as Digg and its article email facility created a channel that allowed the viral spread of the defamatory material.
A few comments on the case:
- As I think has now been established in Australian law, just because you are domiciled in one location does not prevent action being taken against you in a different jurisdiction if you are using what is in effect a global platform.
- If one of your commentators defames someone, then you may be responsible.
- If, and this is I think the really new element raised by the case, you consciously create channels to facilitate the distribution of your material, then you may be liable for that distribution.
I must say that I would be interested in informed comment on the case from some of our legal blogging friends such as marcellous or skepticslaywer.
A helpful comment from Mark Francis led me to another Canadian case, the link libel case.
A former Green Party Campaign Manager Wayne Crooks argued that when a Canadian website posted links to two US websites that featured defamatory statements it was the same as publishing defamatory material itself.
In 2008, a British Columbia judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the links were like a footnote or a reference to a website in a newsletter. Now Mr Crooks has been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Another interesting case to watch.