Dr.Dawg

Open season on anonymous defamers

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Connie and Mark.jpg

The dreadful Fournier couple, owners of the far-right website Free Dominion, have lost another battle—the final one—to preserve the anonymity of two commenters who defamed anti-Nazi stalwart Richard Warman.

Reading the judgement was like déjà vu for me. I spent some time in court last month listening to their lawyer, Ernst Zündel-admirer Barbara Kulaszka, explain that the blogosphere is a rough-and-tumble place where virtually anything goes, or should go. Hence defamatory words thrown in my direction, she argued, should be examined in that context and be found not to be defamatory after all. (The judge, unused to the context, actually appeared impressed, at least initially, although his judgement is yet to come.)

In the Warman case, the original judge determined that there was a prima facie case of defamation against the anonymous commenters, and ordered that their identities and coordinates be disclosed to Warman so that he could serve them with Statements of Claim. On appeal, Kulaszka made the same argument—that the words complained of were not defamatory “in context.”

The appeal judge, however, proved to be a master of concision and good sense. “One need not be an English scholar,” he said, “to have concerns about the words ‘felching fecalphiliac’ being prima facie defamatory.”

Bravo.

Those who cower behind on-line aliases as they defame others are now much closer to being served—and outed. Yes, I’m talking about you.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr.Dawg published on August 27, 2011 8:31 AM.

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