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internet libel case (US) – a rabbi vs anonymous bloggers

By on Aug 1, 2006 in internet libel, law |

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Jewish Week reports (via Media Bloggers):

"A group of anonymous bloggers that had published information on their Web sites about a disgraced Rockland County rabbi’s alleged sexual misconduct won a victory when the rabbi withdrew one of two petitions to subpoena their identities…While undermining their own credibility, anonymous bloggers may in fact be protecting themselves legally. Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, an organization of bloggers, said that one of the standards used in defamation cases is whether a reasonable person would believe a particular statement was true. However, given that blogs are held in lower esteem than many newspapers and magazines, such a standard may not be met in a defamation case against a blogger, particularly an anonymous one. Cox said that although this issue has yet to be settled in court, bloggers might prove immune to claims of defamation "because nobody believes us."

Meanwhile, in a UK libel case, the Reynolds defense failed again (it’s only been successful 3 out of 15 times it’s been attempted – so much for it being a "defense") and, back to the US, Dan Gillmor suggests that law blogs are finally coming of age.

I’ve not actually come across many decent, much less good, internet law blogs. I do, however, really like the work of Michael Geist who most recently wrote about a landmark internet libel case, Sharman Networks v p2p.net, for the Toronto Star, where he is a regular contributor (the article has also appeared on BBC News Online). Geist is also the editor of the BNA Internet Law News which I subscribe to.