The internet has revolutionized the world in which we live. Through a computer and an internet connection, all of us can share our opinions and thoughts with the rest of the world without any intermediaries. We can create our own websites, send emails, and participate in newsgroups and chat rooms. The Internet has become the very means whereby freedom of expression, a right so dear to our heart and democracies- can truly and democratically be realized. However, absolute freedom of expression is sometimes regarded as undesirable because it has the potential to restrict other peoples' liberties by inflicting upon them direct or indirect harm. Hence the existence of censorship and consequent laws regulating hate speech, pornography, defamation etc is necessitated. The law on defamation, on which this assignment will focus, aims at finding a proper balance between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of the individual. This essay will critically discuss the legal control of defamation on the internet, and consider whether less control on the web would be more desirable.
[...] The English McLibel case illustrates the burden resting on the defendant's shoulders. McDonald's corporation sued two environmental activists for libel and was awarded $40,000 damages after two successful hearings. However, the campaigners appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasburg on the grounds that they had been denied: Their right to a fair trial as guaranteed under article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights (The law in England denying legal aid to those involved in libel proceedings) Their right to freedom of expression guaranteed under article 10. [...]
[...] [online] at http://www.guardian.co.uk/food/Story/0,2763,1415031,00.html Parmiter v Coupland (1840) 9 LJ Ex Jur 701 Sim v Stretch (1936) 52 TLR 669 Parmiter v Coupland (1840) 9 LJ Ex Jur 701 AKDENIZ,Y., WALKER, C., and WALL, D. (2000). The Internet Law and Society,1st Ed, p.310 Dow Jones & Co Inc v Gutnick  HCA 56 SHANMUGANATHAN, N. and CADDY, L. “Liability of online Publishers following Gutnick”. New Law Journal AKDENIZ,Y., WALKER, C., and WALL, D. (2000). The Internet Law and Society,1st Ed, p.310 Godfrey vDemon Internet Ltd  4 ALL ER 342 BRAINBRIDGE, David (2004) Introduction to Computer Law, 5th ed. p.331 AKDENIZ,Y., WALKER, C., and WALL, D. [...]
[...] The notion of publisher' has also been challenged by the internet. An Internet service provider (ISP) for instance can have no control over the material published on its system. That is why American ISPs are now protected under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which provided that they could not be treated as publishers. In England too, the Defamation Act of 1996, section took measures to protect ISPs when defamatory statements were published on their servers without their knowledge. [...]
[...] Definition of Defamation There is no single definition of defamation in English law. Lord Wensleydale defined as defamatory in Parmiter v Coupland (1840) publication, without justification or lawful excuse, which is calculated to injure the reputation of another, by exposing him to hatred, contempt, or ridicule.” In Sim v Stretch Lord Atkin said that defamation consisted of defamatory words which tend to lower the plaintiff in the estimation of right-thinking members of society. An early distinction was also made between libel and slander. [...]
[...] (2000). The Internet Law and Society,1st Ed, p.312 McDonald's Corp and another v Steel and another  3 All ER 615 Steel and Another v United Kingdom ECHR 68416/01 AKDENIZ,Y., WALKER, C., and WALL, D. (2000). [...]
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