Ah, libel. Publishing defamatory or damaging text. There’s various interpretations, and generally calling John a complete moron on a web forum or in a blog post might be libelous (which John? I dunno .. you decide). This has been troublesome regarding publications which are also available (like on the Internet) in Britain, because British libel law treats publication, certainly online, a little differently from how one might expect. It’s not the date of production that counts, but the day of reading. This has led to a notion of “libel tourism” in the UK.
In any case, that’s my background for being interested in the topic, so a Canadian result on the topic caught my eye. It has no impact on the UK, of course, but it shows how the interpretation of libel is changing elsewhere. The CBC reports and Michael Geist comments on the introduction of a new defense “responsible communication” against libel suits. Interestingly, the CBC claims that the Canadian Supreme Court looked (among others) at the UK and found the available defenses in Canada “too strict.”
In any case, it means that in Canada, as long as (1) I did some research (2) the communication is in the public interest (3) the judge in the case confirms that it is in the public interest, then I can publish “John is a moron”.
And on a totally unrelated note, does it not strike you as odd that John Turner (17th prime minister of Canada) is not listed on the category page for Johns? Neither is John (Maddog) Hall. Nor John Oates. It’s a travesty.