Monday 20 September 2010

Online defamation cases increase

The Sunday Mail reported that internet law experts predict an "explosion in defamation cases" as more people try to restore reputations after being attacked on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

"It is no longer something pursued solely by celebrities and big companies," Australian Defamation Lawyers principal Barrie Goldsmith said. "Individuals and smaller community-based cases form over half of our workload now."

The Mail says that statistics on defamation cases are hard to come by but cyber specialists estimate their case load has doubled in the past few years. They also reported about the case that Cairns Regional Councillor Alan Blake has taken against Cairns Blog author Michael Moore.

"A far north Queensland councillor recently launched a $350,000 defamation lawsuit against a local blogger for comments posted on," Samantha Healy wrote in the Sunday Mail. "A regional Queensland newspaper, which published photos of two teachers posted on a private Facebook page, also was forced to write an apology and a retraction."

An Adelaide teenager was convicted of criminal defamation after posting false and malicious material about a country police officer on Facebook. The alleged Brisbane creator of the anti-corruption website The Haig Report is facing four counts of using the Net to menace or harass.

Barrie Goldsmith says the cost of pursuing a defamation case deterred many people but more people were fighting.

QUT internet law expert Peter Black, who was interviewed on ABC Far North about the Blake action, says "on the internet, everyone is a publisher and a broadcaster."

Today's legal response from Councillor Alan Blake, drew a strong following, showing the interest in the case.
  • "ALLIES TO FREE SPEECH" a community public rally is being held in response to the legal action.
    - Cairns City Place, Speakers corner
    - Tuesday 28th September, 5:30pm
    (More details will be published tomorrow)

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