Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free speech victory! Hyperlinking to defamatory material not libel court rules

In its unanimous decision, the court said a hyperlink, by itself, should never be considered "publication" of the content to which it refers. But that doesn't mean internet users shouldn't be careful about how they present links. The court says that if someone presents content from the hyperlinked material in a way that repeats the defamatory content, they can be considered publishers and are therefore at risk of being sued for defamation.


The court said hyperlinks are like footnootes in that they communicate that something exists but do not, by themselves, communicate its content. The person who wrote the secondary article may have no idea they were referenced, and, the person who wrote the primary article may have no idea if the material they linked to is changed at a later time.

This is excellent news. And it only makes sense.