UK High Court Recognizes That Defamation Standard Should Be Lowered For Online Forums
from the a-step-in-the-right-direction dept
UK libel law is incredibly strict. It’s much stricter than in the US, which is why there have been a few cases over the years where someone tried to sue for libel in the UK despite the fact that the content had nothing to do with the UK. However, there’s a small bit of good news coming out of the UK, where the High Court has ruled that online chat rooms and message boards should be treated more like spoken conversations (slander) than written ones (libel). This is a basic (but important) recognition that these parts of the internet are about communication rather than broadcast content (which is what libel laws target), noting that content posted to a message board is quite different than content in a newspaper:
“[Bulletin board posts] are rather like contributions to a casual conversation (the analogy sometimes being drawn with people chatting in a bar) which people simply note before moving on; they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out. Those who participate know this and expect a certain amount of repartee or ‘give and take’.”
“When considered in the context of defamation law, therefore, communications of this kind are much more akin to slanders (this cause of action being nowadays relatively rare) than to the usual, more permanent kind of communications found in libel actions. People do not often take a ‘thread’ and go through it as a whole like a newspaper article. They tend to read the remarks, make their own contributions if they feel inclined, and think no more about it.”
This is definitely a step in the right direction.