Times fails to overturn ‘internet publication rule’ in court case

European Journalism Centre: Times fails to overturn ‘internet publication rule’ in court case

[European Court of Human Rights] Newspapers will continue to be sued multiple times over the same website story after the Times lost a case in the European court of human rights Tuesday. In a decision condemned by media lawyers, the court rejected arguments in favour of a ‘single publication rule’, prevalent in the US, where defendants can only be sued once for publishing a defamatory statement. The case was brought by the Times newspaper after an alleged Russian mafia boss sued the paper for a second time for libel over internet articles. He had previously sued the Times for the same articles printed in the newspaper. The Times argued that the ‘internet publication rule’ under English law breached the right to freedom of expression. The internet publication rule allows for a libel action each time someone accesses archived material on the internet. Anthony Lester QC, representing the Times, had argued for a common international rule about internet publication. ‘An article might be read in 100 different countries with 100 different libel laws, giving rise to multiple liability with no clear guidance on how long is too long,’ he said. However, the court declined to set a clear time period after which archived articles would stop giving rise to libel claims. (The Guardian)