Friday, March 14, 2008

Harper's suit Threatens Blogsphere: Harper's lawyers argue that only the MSM has protection when quoting Hansard

Harper suit is premised on a sharp distinction between “news” organizations and everyone else. Harper is in effect saying that the Liberals are not free to quote from Hansard because they are not a “news” organization. Protection does not apply to them. However, the implication of this is that bloggers too are not protected when quoting from Hansard. If the Liberals could be sued for quoting what Ignatieff said in the House, and Harper suite takes aim at just that, then so could I or any other blogger. http://www.cbc.ca/news/pdf/harper-lawsuit.pdf

If the Liberals where smart they would take aim at just such a sharp distinction and encourage people to quote the offending passages on face book and on their blogs and anywhere they can think of. A false distinction between the news media and everyone else can only damage freedom of speech. Protection from libel must apply to all who quote Hansard.

Update

MPs can not be sued for what they say in the House, but MPs can not use this privilege to insulate themselves against libel by simply quoting what they said in the House. That is why Ken Dryden read out what he said in the House word for word. News organizations, on the other hand, are free to quote what was said in the House without fear of libel. Where this relates back to the matter at hand is the Liberals are asserting that the two articles in question were “news” articles and as such protected from libel. Where this relates back to the blogsephere is if judge concludes that these articles, even though they bare a healthy family resemblance to any news article out there on the subject, are not news, then it is but a hop skip and jump to the saying that any blogger that happens to quote Ignatieff's words is also open to libel.

3 comments:

ALW said...

Bloggers are not "organizations", though. The Liberal Party is.

stageleft said...

I've read through the statement twice, and don't see your concerns evidenced - that doesn't mean they'res not there of course so lay it out clearly.

Koby said...

>>>>I've read through the statement twice, and don't see your concerns evidenced - that doesn't mean they'res not there of course so lay it out clearly.

MPs can not be sued for what they say in the House, but MPs can not use this privilege to insulate themselves against libel by simply quoting what they said in the House. That is why Ken Dryden read out what he said in the House word for word. News organizations, on the other hand, are free to quote what was said in the House without fear of libel. Where this relates back to the matter at hand is the Liberals are asserting that the two articles in question were “news” articles and as such protected from libel. Where this relates back to the blogsephere if judge concludes that these articles, even though they bare a healthy family resemblance to any news article out there on the subject, then it is but a hop skip and jump to the saying that any blogger that happens to quote Ignatieff's words is also open to libel.