Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Laying Down the Cyberlaw

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Laying Down the Cyberlaw

Article excerpt

Libel and linking: Web publishers recently won significant court victories regarding both topics.

The first decision holds that the libel laws of old media apply in new media. In many states, plaintiffs have only one year to bring a libel suit against publishers of print materials. But what are the rules for cyberspace?

A former New York state employee argued that as long as a published article remains on a Web site, it is essentially published anew every day. Therefore, the one-year statute of limitations for libel in New York state didn't apply. The employee sued the state's Department of Environmental Conservation over a report issued by its inspector general. The employee said the report defamed him.

That report was first posted online in December 1996, but the employee didn't file his action until March 1998, after the statute of limitations had expired. Thus the employee attempted to argue that Web posting amounts to "continual" publishing.

The New York State Court of Claims rejected this argument March 8, saying that just because an article remains live on the Web does not mean it is published anew every day. …

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