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Thursday, March 02, 2006

If it's libellous to paste the Olsen twins' heads on porn star bodies, we're all in trouble

An interesting story popped up on CBC Ottawa's website today.

A landlord is threatening to evict a Kingston woman from her apartment for criticizing him on her blog, raising questions about how libel laws apply to the internet. ... Dawe argues the landlord has no right to evict her since there's no existing law preventing her from posting negative comments online. ... Art Cockfield, a law professor at Queen's University, cautions that while libel laws don't specifically mention blogs, people must be careful about what they post. "There's some legal uncertainty about whether [Ontario's] Libel and Slander Act applies to internet defamation," said Cockfield. "But having said that, the common libel law would apply and you've got to be careful."
While I don't think eviction is the right course of action I'm glad to see that we might finally get a test of Canada's libel laws vis-a-vis the Internet. A whole slew of people and media outlets libelled the shit out of Wayne and Janet Gretzky not too long ago, and while I can't imagine the Great One taking the time and energy to sue someone over it, having a precedent I can turn to when I'm bitching about it online would be stellar. The whole article is here. Update - I just re-read the article while checking the link in this post and it's also a great example of how to write a libel-related article without repeating the libel. They resist the temptation to quote the blog or the site and they don't link to it or give the URL. Nicely done, anonymous CBC News scribe.

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