Landmark linking defamation case from Canada

There are times when my country pisses me off but there are other times when it; and its often laid back people, make me proud as hell. This is one of those other times and it comes due to a landmark decision handed down today by British Columbia Supreme Court judge Stephen Kelleher in the case of Crookes v p2pnet.

The case was centered around the charge by Wayne Crookes that Ted Nelson who owns p2pnet had defamed him by linking to articles that Crookes apparently didn’t like. The judge ruled that in the case of it just being a link to the article this doesn’t amount to republication and therefor there is no libel. However the judge was quick to qualify that this doesn’t mean that linking couldn’t be grounds for being sued

However, warned Kelleher, “I do not wish to be misunderstood. It is not my decision that hyperlinking can never make a person liable for the contents of the remote site.

“For example, if Mr. Newton had written ‘the truth about Wayne Crookes is found here’ and ‘here’ is hyperlinked to the specific defamatory words, this might lead to a different conclusion.”

So without the republication Crookes didn’t have a leg to stand and ended up losing the lawsuit and in the process set a precedent in Canadian law in favour of freedom of online speech. You can read the full court decision here