Another Reason to Be Thankful About U.S. Libel Laws


Because other countries aren't so permissive:

Petr Partyk criticized a city bureaucrat on a web discussion forum, and now faces prison over it. What's more, he says the comments were written by someone else. It looks absurd, but according to a decision by the Prague 7 district court he could be in prison for 75 days for libel.

NEXT: More Paul Ehrlich Revisionism

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  1. I thought the CzRep was a relatively liberal country, too.

    Guess not.

  2. andy — The CR’s libel & press laws have been comparatively illiberal since 1989, though still miles better than some other reform stars like Hungary. In the latter, unless something has recently changed, interviewees have the right to review any article containing their quotes pre-publication, and to make “correction” before printing…. Remember, too, that the Brits have what most of us (us journalists, anyway) would consider to be pretty stinky libel laws as well.

  3. Well, now I guess we know which way the Supreme Court will go next time it gets a libel case.

  4. Seems there were two big problems in this case. One is the definition of libel being used, most ominously summed up by the judge when he said, ?Criticism of such people must have its limits.? The other is the use of someone’s name attached to a web communication as proof of his saying it, assuming Petr is telling the truth that that’s all the evidence the court felt it needed to establish the “fact” (whether he’s telling the truth that he wasn’t responsible for communications attributed to him is not relevant to this issue). If this is correct, that’s verrrrry scary. They’d sure be setting up a nice way to for someone to frame someone else!!

  5. right – because we would never abridge the right to speech by like, oh, i don’t know, arresting a teenager for writing a zombie story under the guise of fighting terrorism.

  6. American libel law is an affront to intellectual property rights. A person (or a corporation, or a an industry trade association, or a government offical) spends years establishing a reputation as one of the good guys. That reputation is a creation, and is the property of the one in repute. Like all property, the government should squash like a bug anyone who seeks to diminish the value of that property.

    We, who hold our stainless reputations to be so dear, do not like it when mere citizens hide behind claims like “freedom of the press”. There is no excuse for this vandalism! We demand tougher laws to protect out golden reputations now! We will no longer tolerate having our hard-earned, tirelessly-maintained reputations dragged through the mud by the likes of you pajama-clad bloggers! Our property MUST be protected!

  7. There are two problems as I can understand them. One is a haphazard and probably intentionally vague libel law. But combine that with some truly inept and possibly corrupt people sitting on the bench and you have a recipe for trouble.

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