Canadian Bloggers Being Challenged

Terrific, informative article from globeandmail.com,:

Media stardom is pricey: Part of the attraction of blogs is that they seemed to live outside the law. That turns out to be not quite true
by Mathew Ingram (June 16, 2007)

This article has some interesting points that help to really highlight how blogging in Canada differs from blogging in the U.S.:

Earlier this week, Steelback Brewery president Frank D’Angelo filed a $2-million libel suit against Ottawa-based blogger Neate Sager for making what he says are disparaging comments about him.

In another recent case, Montreal art-gallery owner Chris (Zeke) Hand has found himself on the receiving end of a lawsuit as a result of something he wrote on the blog he maintains for Zeke’s Gallery.

Warren Kinsella, a prominent blogger and newspaper columnist, sued another blogger for libel last year, but settled the case after the blogger apologized for his remarks and paid Kinsella’s legal costs.

And p2pnet, a British Columbia-based news site that writes about file-sharing, is still fighting a libel lawsuit launched by Kazaa tycoon Nikki Hemming based on comments that were posted on an article about the company.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist says Canadian bloggers need to be aware that by effectively becoming publishers, they are subject to the laws on defamation and libel.

Those laws “apply online as well as off-line,” he says. “Just because bloggers have the ability to write whatever they want doesn’t give them licence to defame anyone.”

Geist says there are likely to be more lawsuits against bloggers as blogs become more mainstream.

“It certainly feels like we’re seeing more of these cases, and it probably reflects the fact that there are more people blogging,” he says. “And at the same time, people are increasingly realizing that blogs have an impact and that more people are reading them.”

Geist says he is also concerned that suits are increasingly being filed not just because of what a blogger says in a post, but because of what is said in comments by visitors to blogs.

While third parties are protected from such suits in the United States by the Communications Decency Act, Canada has no such protection, he says, and that raises “a significant threat of ‘libel chill.'”

Canadian bloggers should read the full article to get a sense of the state of the current law.

Thanks to Judy Gombita for the tip on this article, via the Bulldog Reporter.

Posted June 20, 2007, 11:30 pm.

Comments

  1. Connie – The article doesn’t mention the case of blooger Steve Janke http://stevejanke.com/ whose blog is called “angry in the great white north”. Janke is being sued for remarks he published about a Liberal Party official during and after the last federal election. Janke is one of a number of Conservative “swiftboaters” as Frank Magazine calls them. His blog includes a very prominent ad soliciting donations for the attack ads that the Conservatives have been running against Stephane Dion.

    Yesterday Janke posted an item entitled “I need your help” in which he is soliciting donations to assist him in fighting this defamation action and he even provides a Paypal link through which one might donate.

    Tempting as this may be, I believe my charitable donations might be better used to support the Conservative govenment’s initiative to keep terrorists off the buses in downtown Sarnia.

  2. There’s a no-ride list for Sarnia??

  3. Good one, Simon. The feds offered a bag of money to Sarnia and other municipalities to fund consultants’ studies of how to make their transit systems (read bus routes) safe from terrorists. The problem was that they wanted the cities to pony up some cash as well and Sarnia told them to take a hike. However, Lethbridge, that other hotbed of Taliban sleeper cells, took the cash. I’m quite sure that the folks in southern Alberta feel much relieved.

  4. Jeff–thanks for pointing out that additional story. I wasn’t aware of it.

    Would have preferred not to know about Sarnia’s transit system. :-P