Canadian Supreme Court To Hear Case Over Liability For Linking To Defamatory Information

from the linkety-link dept

You may recall that a few years back, Canadian politician Wayne Crookes started suing a whole bunch of sites, including Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo and MySpace, just because of postings on those sites that Crookes felt were libelous. Whether or not the comments actually were defamatory was a big open question, but a bigger issue was why he was suing the service providers, rather than those actually responsible for the comments. Some of those lawsuits got tossed out on a jurisdictional technicality, but Crookes then also sued some others, claiming libel for just linking to a site that was potentially libelous as well. One of those sued was Jon Newton, the operator of, a site that many of you read. Newton had linked to the stories in question, but did not repeat was written in them or offer any commentary -- and yet Crookes claimed that just the links were defamatory.

Thankfully, both the district court and the appeals court said that just linking was not defamatory, but the reasoning was a bit odd, and left some potential issue open. Now, as a bunch of folks have submitted, the Canadian Supreme Court is gearing up to take on the issue. There are really two questions here: whether or not the initial link is defamation, and secondarily, whether or not it becomes defamation if you refuse to take down the link after being alerted to it being defamatory.

In the US, Section 230 of the CDA protects website publishers in both cases. In Canada, the law is not at all clear on this issue, and there's a very real threat of a pretty massive chilling effect if the Supreme Court decides that linking (or even refusing to take down a link) can constitute defamation. Hopefully, the Supreme Court agrees that merely linking should never be seen as defamation -- and preferably, the Canadian Parliament makes this doubly clear by putting in place some basic safe harbors as well.

Filed Under: canada, wayne crookes
Companies: google, myspace, wikipedia, yahoo

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  1. identicon
    NAMELESS.ONE, 5 Apr 2010 @ 2:29pm

    @2 and then @11

    A)come here and tell me that
    B) HUH , so your saying i dont have a right to cross the street , i have to make sure no one wants to sue me cause they THINK that at that time a day no one should cross the street cause it is wrong? OR
    That i don't have a brain and can't make choices myself so i must become a drone and let you and the govt do everything for me. YEA FUCKIGN RIGHT.

    FREEDOM is not a thing it is a state of being and mind. IF YOU want not to be free goto china or iraq or north korea.

    ALSO lets break up what he says.
    basically using large words again to befuddle andmake hmself seem smart.

    "Realistically, your rights end at the point where you can no longer personally enforce them."

    NO my rights are perpetual and always exist. IF you do not have rights of any kind i gather your living in Guantanamo Bay? My rights dont stop suddenly or any time. Even prisoners in Canada have rights to say vote as an example.

    "Any "rights" beyond that point are sweet illusions, entirely false."

    In combination with the above its hard to understand exactly wtf your talking about , but i assume you mean, that someone has taken rights away form me and i no longer have them in what sense is this regarding the article ?
    NO IDEA, at this point the courts have affirmed sanity here that it is your responsibility to go to the link and thus INFORM yourself of the links contents, bad or good ITS your choice to cross the street if the light is red also in canada, ( we do not have jay walking laws on the books )
    the lights are guides and while america that needs be spoon fed and lawed out the yin yang most people here also think its illegal and your some bad ass crossing at a red light when it is not.
    ( laws states tha as long as you do not impede traffic that has the right of way you are not in violation of law - wow thats common sense for ya)
    Once again this user spills out weird stuff and it makes little to no sense.

    at 11 YOU do realize that linking laws are hugely different then in your referenced USA law. For instance i can and have for 16 years hosted a hacker website with stuff that i can not in the USA. I have recently looked over slander and defamtion laws as well they are far differant then your laws.

    Take this into consideration when posting like YOUR law is our law.


    in canada we have some interestign legal laws for lawsuits
    if you got bad milk form macs milk ( btw they always have had good milk purely an exmaple not to mean bad in any way )

    and it was discovered that the company sending the mlk was sending it bad, in hte past you would sue macs milk , then they would sue the company that sold htem the milk, thus doubling the systems overlap for essentially the same thing.
    the newer laws made a decade ago mean that ina suit you can go right to the source and sue the starter of the link so no TECH dirt would not directly be liable for just linking to johns article but may be forced to close the link and they could just sue john's p2pnet.

    @7 by saying there is a crack house on the street your not identifying the actual address and thus are putting a negative on every house in the area , now get specific with proof and the police will raid it else if this gets struck down your going to have to shut up.

    i think this would put a huge crimp into crime stoppers ability to function now that i think of it.

    Also @7 don't expect a 70 year old bunch a judges to understand all the stuff you just said about the meat and bones there more concerned with the the cause and affect and what it means to not only p2pnets rights but crooke's rights.

    and last i checked if your not anonymous and make such defamtory comments on purpose and no tin jest tha too is still illegal.

    What's interesting is not that crooke is disputing the contents of the link but the linking itself.
    Makes yea wonder if its really defamatory.

    If its in other jurisdiction that has lax laws then perhaps he could and should be able to get equal ability to defend his self. These are a few things i am sure the justices will look at, and there are more angles they may see i do not.

    I am not spending a lot a time here as i said.
    IF i say mike is a jerkoff and post a link to some place that says so, and you already know hes not or dont believe it and go and its all non sense with no proof , WHOSE the bigger idiot that believes the crap, the justice that orders the link removed or the person that CHOOSE TO GO and read that gossip and hersay.

    p.s. mikes a great guy of course and this was meant to get attention ....yea tha never happens also does it...

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