Calif. Supreme Courts upholds Internet free speech 2006-11-21 14:40:14

    BEIJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Internet free speech advocates scored a victory Monday when the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that bloggers and participants in Internet bulletin board groups cannot be sued for posting defamatory statements made by others.

    The court said a federal law grants immunity from libel suits not only to Internet service providers, but also to bloggers and other users of their services.

    "Subjecting Internet service providers and users to defamation liability would tend to chill online speech," the ruling stated.

    Internet free speech advocates, had warned a contrary outcome could have affected users of newsgroups, blogs, listservs, and bulletin boards who enter those forums to discuss the views of others. A loss could even have jeopardized websites run by students to evaluate their professors, said the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in friend of court briefs.

    In Monday's ruling, the California Supreme court said that granting such broad immunity for posting defamatory statements "has some troubling consequences."

    Nevertheless, the court said, "Until Congress chooses to revise the settled law in this area" people who contend they were defamed on the Internet can seek recovery only from the original source of the statement, not from those who re-post it."


Editor: Gareth Dodd
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