p2pnet news | Freedom:- Has the cookie at last started to crumble for Wayne Crookes, the Canadian businessman who’s single handedly trying to sue the Net?
The British Columbia Supreme Court has dismissed with costs one of his libel lawsuits, says respected Canadian law professor Dr Michael Geist.
Based in Vancouver, BC, Crookes maintains linking to something which links to something which offends him is sufficient grounds for a defamation lawsuit.
His effort succeeded in putting a definite chill on significant numbers of Canadian print and electronic media outlets which avoided mention of the case for fear of becoming victims.
p2pnet offered him unlimited editorial space in its most prominent position to explain the reasons behind his claims, but he declined.
“If successful, the suits would effectively require websites – including anyone who permits comments on a blog or includes links to other sites – to proactively monitor and remove content that may raise liability concerns,” Geist posted in May, going on:
“They will also call into question the ability of domain name registrants to guard their privacy by refusing to publicly disclose their identities.
“In response, it is likely that many sites will simply drop the ability to post comments, since the challenge of monitoring and verifying every comment will be too onerous.
“Alternatively, many sites may abandon Canada altogether by establishing their online presence in the United States. Courts in the U.S. have repeatedly denied attempts to hold intermediaries liable for content posted by third parties on the grounds that a 1996 statute provided them with immunity for such postings.
“Canada would do well to introduce a similar provision, since the consequences for defamatory speech should rest with those directly responsible, not mere bystanders with deep pockets.”
Of course, in Canada, with its antiquated laws, almost anything is grounds for a libel lawsuit.
But Crookes’ contention is more fallacious than most.
Geist is, like p2pnet, Google, Wikimedia, Pbwiki, Yahoo, MySpace, Openpolitics.ca, Domains by Proxy, Michael Pilling, Hayley Easto, Kate Holloway, Craig Hubley, Frank Cameron, Catharine Johannson, Gareth White and anonymous persons, among those Crookes is trying to sue.
Says Geist, of the case just dismissed:
The suit against Yahoo!, MySpace and a group of individual defendants, which centred on postings on a Yahoo Groups forum, was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.
Yahoo successfully argued that it was not subject to B.C. jurisdiction in this case since it has no offices in Canada (as opposed to Yahoo Canada), is not registered to do business in Canada, and does not maintain servers for Yahoo Groups in Canada.
Given the lack of connection to Canada, the court ruled that Crookes needed to demonstrate that the alleged defamation was committed here. In order to do so, he needed to show that the allegedly defamatory postings were “accessed, downloaded, and read by someone in British Columbia.”
The judge concluded that Crookes failed to tender such evidence and therefore dismissed the case.
Definitely stay tuned.
Geist posted in May – Wayne Crookes v The Net, May 1, 2007
sued by Nikki Hemming – Free speech, libel and the internet age, July 31, 2007
discredited p2p application – Michelle Santangelo vs the RIAA, July 16, 2007