Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick




Yes, Believe It Or Not, Libel Online Falls Under The Same Laws As Libel On Paper

from the is-it-that-hard-to-figure-out? dept

This is one of those legal decisions that's apparently being hailed as "important," but which could just as easily be described as a no brainer. A U.S District Court in Texas has ruled that libel laws face the same statute of limitations online as they do offline. This seems like it should be obvious, but one company apparently felt that the rules should be extended since the content "lives on" online. Of course, it lives on offline too, it's just not as easily findable (in most cases). However, it hardly seems fair to change the statute of limitations just because the ability to find the content is easier. If anything, you'd think that's an argument to limit the statute of limitations, since it's so much easier to find the potentially libelous content in the first place.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 5:44am

    Lawyer's credibility?

    "'It's not sitting in a library — it's staying on the Internet,' said Barbara Bison Jacobson, Nationwide's lawyer."

    The Internet is one great big library, isn't it? What is missing from the Internet is an equivalent to the Dewey Decimal system for content, and there is nobody tapping you on the shoulder saying "shh...."

    This is a no brainer to me... Libel laws, or any other laws that relate to it, should be no different for Internet content than any other medium.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 6:03am

    I thought Google bought the Decimal System and isn't China the one shushing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 6:10am

    its funny how one would claim the internet should have no laws (gambling, porn, and the like) and then come back and say the internet must abide by laws (liable).

    now, how can you charge someone with liable if the site/blog/comments are made/hosted in another country?

    what if the writer is in the US, but the site is in another country? or if the writer is in another country and the server is US?

    the internet can't be both domestic and international. pick one. then have general rules. but that won't happen, because if country A doesn't want to follow the rules, they make their "own section" of the internet, and all is fine and dandy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rabid Wolverine, 19 Oct 2006 @ 6:14am

      Re: fine and dandy

      till they come over here... Then they can be arrested.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Nathan, 19 Oct 2006 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      I really don't see the contradiction in saying that acts that hurt other people, libel in this case, should be illegal in both the real and virtual world. And acts that are victimless, gambling/porn/the like, should be legal in the virtual world. One could make the arguement that it should also extend to the real world, but that's a seperate issue.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wyndle, 19 Oct 2006 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        Not all porn is victimless. While it's easy to say that the subjects of legal porn willingly do what they do, you don't always see what's behind the scenes. Drugs, abuse, and poverty can drive people to do some really stupid stuff, just ask Traci Lords (granted, her porn wasn't legal but very few people knew about it at the time).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          ehrichweiss, 19 Oct 2006 @ 11:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Not all porn is victimless. While it's easy to say that the subjects of legal porn willingly do what they do, you don't always see what's behind the scenes. Drugs, abuse, and poverty can drive people to do some really stupid stuff, just ask Traci Lords (granted, her porn wasn't legal but very few people knew about it at the time)."


          Responsibility to the responsible.

          Ok, now is the time you have to make a distinction. People are responsible for their own actions. Period. Traci Lords did what she did of her own free will regardless of her sour grapes attitude of the present day. She was poor and a runaway, yes, but nobody forced her to go into porn, she had to go out of her way to get ID that said she was old enough and blaming it on porn doesn't work. Drugs are another personal choice, if someone takes them they cannot then blame their consequential actions on the drugs. If they are poor and rob a store, no one but most stupid will blame their actions on their financial status. It doesn't work in a court of law and doesn't work in the real world either.

          There ARE exceptions but they are a minority and then blaming porn(or drugs or tobacco companies or whatever) isn't the answer.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 11:54am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah but who gets to decide which crimes are "victimless" and which ones have victims? If something truly had no victims, why would it be classified as a crime in the first place?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jedi Wannabe, 19 Oct 2006 @ 6:57am

    re: Internet can't be both domestic and Internatio

    3 words:
    NEW WORLD ORDER

    . . . and you can bet Bush wants to rule . . .

    And in a rasping breath, you can still hear George SR say: " W. , I *AM* your father. Join ME and together we can RULE the Earth as Father and Son!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 8:00am

      Re: re: Internet can't be both domestic and Intern

      And that New World Order now includes outer space ...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wyndle, 19 Oct 2006 @ 8:03am

      Re: re: Internet can't be both domestic and Intern

      3 words:
      Politicians, Conspiracy-Theorists, and Sociopaths

      . . . and you can bet that all Politicians are either Conspiracy-Theorists or Sociopaths (some are both). . .

      And in a raspy throat, you can still hear George Carlin say: "F*** that!"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mockingbirdthewizard, 19 Oct 2006 @ 9:26am

    legality

    well, seem to be straying here, but....
    the first posters had it right. libel is libel. doesn't much matter if it's on the net or in a book.
    no brainer indeed.
    as for people doing stupid stuff, there's no reason to say I shouldn't be allowed to do something if my reasons aren't stupid just because other people did it for stupid reasons.

    porn itself is victimless.
    if you abuse someone into it, that's the crime.
    if you force someone to take drugs, that's a crime.
    if someone is poor and want to do it for money, that's not a crime.
    and it's not really a stupid reason.
    they just won't be able to run for president later.

    -MBtW

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 10:36am

    i disagree. ok, liable is liable. but gambling is gambling. it's illegal to gamble in most jurisditicions in the US however it's legal to gamble online? or is it illegal? what about if youa re in Nevada, AC, Indian Reservation, Riverboats...can you gamble legally online?

    it comes down to who has jurisdiction, is it where client or server is located? the client "does the action" but the server "records" it.

    if i write a letter to a paper in FL, but live in MA, and in the letter i "liable" someone, who has jurisdiction? FL or MA? what if the person lives in CA? am i at fault? is the paper?

    now, i agree that yes, crimes should be the same online and in "reality" and as i mentioned, it's a matter of determining jurisdiction of events in the internet. once the global community accecpts a standard for internet policy (isn't this against net neutrality) then crimes can be judged. however, i find it difficult to prosicute a case where there may be several jurisdictions involved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ehrichweiss, 19 Oct 2006 @ 11:02am

    ps it's LIBEL, not "liable"

    LIBEL is the act of slandering someone in print(actually the definitions of slander and libel are exchanged in some regions).

    LIABLE is what you are if you libel someone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 11:19am

    "... bet George Bush wants to rule."

    Jeeezus you people! Is it not possible to have an intelligent conversation anymore without somehow blaming the President? My God, get a f***ing life and direct that energy into something productive.

    The conversation was about the ignorance of the courts and thier failure to grasp the obvious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Oct 2006 @ 11:25am

    wow...took people long enough to notice the a ;-)

    but in our fast track world, it's easy to not catch errors. we see a word, it "sounds" the same, and we move on. everyone knows lible, but liable sounds close enough, and our brains say, same difference, move on to more "important" things

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Donald Duck, 19 Oct 2006 @ 12:12pm

      Re: Libel and Liable

      That is not what a poster name anonymous coward said to me over THEN and THAN YOU or some one with that posting sn MADE A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT.

      Since your the one caught with the mistake you want every one to just move on? "Hypocrite".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Frank the Tank, 19 Oct 2006 @ 12:42pm

    how many AC's are on the comments? quite a few. i don't think the above AC is your "mean english teacher" AC, DD.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Monarch, 19 Oct 2006 @ 1:12pm

    Liable and Libel do not sound the same (unless you're some ignorant hillbilly with a drawl so bad all your words sound the same). And, yes it was driving me crazy reading a post with the ignorant spelling of Liable in place of Libel. My brain kept doing back flips trying to replace the misspelling!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dorpus, 19 Oct 2006 @ 1:31pm

    Monarch

    say liable and lible relativly quickly. i'm sure they'll sound the same. otherwise, you are a dumb ignorant hillbilly with no reason for living.

    and if you had that much trouble, why not post a correction, or are you that busy with jerking off to TD?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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