Monday, February 14, 2005

Jurisdiction problems

Paraphrasing my colleague Lilian Edwards, where on Earth do things happen in cyberpsace? Techdirt has a small report about the latest case to muddle the question of cyberspace jursidiction. This case is Dow Jones & Co Inc v Jameel [2005] EWCA Civ 74 (note that link is only for the report of the injunction), and it involves the case of a Saudi Arabian national who sued WSJ for libel after they published a report that linked the claimant to terrorist funding. WSJ is published in New Jersey, but Mr Jameel sued in London because it has the strictest libel law (this is often called forum shopping). The court threw out the case (thankfully), but on the basis that not enough people had read the article in the UK, so it could not be assumed that it had been published here.

This opens an interesting new question about possible future cases. What constitutes publication on the "web"? Is the fact that somebody has made something available online enough to constitute publication everywhere? If so, can I be sued anywhere that has an internet connection?

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