Journalists and bloggers have a new recourse if sued for libel — they can now use the defense of “responsible communication”, if the journalist made an attempt to contact the party in question and the item on which they’re reporting is a matter of public interest. This is great news for people like myself, who report on pseudoscientific nonsense now and then, thus risking spurious lawsuits from the pseudoscientists.
The Supreme Court said it examined laws in other countries with similar legal systems, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. It found that Canadian law was strict by comparison and did not give enough weight to the value of free expression.
“This, in turn, may have a chilling effect on what is published,” said the text of one of the rulings. “Information that is reliable and in the public’s interest to know may never see the light of day.”
Strict by comparison to libel laws in the UK? Horrific. Thankfully the judge recognized the potential chilling effect and remedied it with this decision. I shall make it a point to contact people asking them to explain their positions and informing them that I plan on blogging about the topic. The fact that this law now covers bloggers as well, means I have to cover my ass on matters such as these.