Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Freedom Of Speech And The Internet

When will people stop trying to place ridiculous restrictions on the Internet!

I've heard all the "justifications" and not a single one comes close to justifying the type of draconian restrictions that some would like to see.

The latest attempt is coming out of Canada.

Lawsuits have been filed by a student and professor at York University against the outgoing York University President, Lorna Marsden and others, claiming libel, defamation of character, etc. Now I'm not going to go into the very interesting details of these lawsuits right now, I'll do that in another post.

The point here is the legal issues raised in relation to the Internet.

In response to these lawsuits, a motion was filed by those being sued, to strike down one of the claims (claim of libel) because the press release in question was issued on the Internet and therefore, according to the lawyers, should fall under Broadcast libel law and not Personal libel law. In terms of this particular case it means that the claim of libel would have to be thrown out because it was filed after the 6 week time limit allowed to file under the Broadcast libel law instead of the 2 years allowed under Personal libel law.

I'm not a lawyer, but apparently, the legal significance of this in Canada, is also that, if the Internet is considered a Broadcast medium then it comes under Canada's very restrictive Broadcast regulations which regulate everything from access to content!

So, if a judge were to allow this motion, the implications to all Canadians would be huge and would fundamentally change the way that we are legally able to interact with and on the Internet.

According to the experts, legal precedents have been set in the past to dispute this interpretation of the law, and WIPO, a treaty which Canada is a signatory to, very specifically disputes this interpretation.

So ... I'm not sure what the basis is for filing this motion, and why the lawyers think they might have a hope of succeeding???

What could they possibly have to gain?

Hmmm ... I guess we'll have to keep an eye on this one ...

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