Saturday, May 02, 2009

Libel - In 140 Characters or Less

The Financial Post looks at the first U.S. libel suit arising from a Tweet. The claim stems from allegedly defamatory comments made on Twitter by rocker Courtney Love:
Can you really libel someone in 140 characters or less?
The short answer, you could quickly tweet, is yes. The first libel suit against a Twitter user was launched in March, in the United States. It joins a growing class of suits against bloggers, message-board posters and social network users.In the case of the first lawsuit, notorious rocker Courtney Love is being sued by designer Dawn Simorangkir, also known as Boudoir Queen, who alleges Ms. Love made defamatory comments about her in a tweet.
The article follows with an update on defamation suits against bloggers:
While Twitter is new ground, lawsuits related to blogs are on the rise. The New York-based Media Law Resource Center says it is tracking 258 Web-related U. S. lawsuits, a sharp increase from 110 a year ago. Some of the lawsuits involve defamation, others deal with copyright infringement or fake profiles on social network sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The majority of Internet-related lawsuits are connected to blog postings, says Eric Robinson, a staff lawyer with the Media Law group. 
A year ago, blog lawsuits were a novelty, but they have been growing quickly. And so have the resulting awards -- one as high as US$12.5-million. "The Internet was the Wild West, but now the sheriffs are coming in," Mr. Robinson says.

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