Defamation Does Not Exist Simply By Hyperlinking

The recent decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Crookes v Newton is of interest to the BU family as it provides clear guidance on certain areas of internet defamation.

Largely, the case devolves around the use of hyperlinks, such as this one that will link readers to the CBC report and a full copy of the judgement – .

In essence, the court held that libel did not occur simply by a website producing a hyperlink to a site that might in itself be defamatory. However, if the website posting the hyperlink commented in a defamatory manner, then that is a different ballgame.

A very straightforward and common sense approach. But, as the BU family well knows, it is not as simple as that.

It is settled that if X (a USA citizen and resident) publishes a libellous comment about Y (a Bajan citizen and resident) in X’s USA website, then Y can bring an action for defamation in Barbados before the Barbados courts where the damage to Y’s reputation has been done.

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STARCOM Network Disappoints The PEOPLE Of Barbados

Minister Lynch Awarded $60 000
Published on: 10/7/07.

MINISTER OF TOURISM Noel Lynch is today $60 000 richer following his libel settlement with Starcom Network Inc. The suit stemmed from the content of an email read by the moderator of Voice of Barbados’ Brass Tacks on a Sunday programme last March. The email raised questions about Lynch’s alleged current life status. Lynch objected to the question and walked out of the live broadcast. On Friday, Starcom’s chief executive officer Vic Fernandes confirmed the settlement. Fernandes revealed the minister was paid $60 000 while his attorney’s costs were $10 000. The CEO said the station settled the matter as it was advised it had no strong defense. (RG)

Source: Nation Newspaper

nlynch.jpgBU broke the story about the payment of $65,000.00 which STARCOM Network paid to a well-known politician in Barbados to stave-off a lawsuit. The Barbados Free Press has headlined the news, which was reported in the Nation this morning that the amounts of $60,000.00 and $10,000.00 were paid to Minister Barney Lynch and his lawyer respectively. BU wishes to apologize to the STARCOM Network for getting the payout wrong!

We agree with many of the points that have been written on the BFP blog on this matter, and want to add our ‘tuhpence’ to this important discussion. Visitors to the Barbados Underground blog would have realized by now that we value the contribution of a vibrant Fourth Estate of the Realm which is important to protecting our democracy. As Barbadians and a predominantly black nation, we have become rightly proud of the freedoms which others continually have to shed blood to experience. Current examples are Burma and Darfur. It is against this background that as Barbadians and West Indians, we must all recognize that a democracy is not something which governments are solely responsible. Many other entities in our societies must deliver on their mandates and that includes media houses.

The unwillingness of media houses in Barbados to challenge politicians who are willing to sue for libel at the ‘drop of a hat’ must be challenged. We cannot recollect an occasion when a media house in Barbados went to the law courts to resolve claims submitted by these politicians. We have deliberately singled-out politicians because our source within the media houses has confirmed that they (politicians) have been the main beneficiaries from the ‘slush fund’. This willingness by media houses to settle claims has started to threaten our democracy, and in one recent instance it has been responsible, in our opinion, for destroying the career of Roy Morris. It is well known on Fontebelle about the $30,000.00 payment paid to a young lady who preferred money over the trauma of processing a matter in our court system.

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