Internationally Aware Publishing

Last week, the Sunday Mirror was successfully sued in France, under EU law, for an English language article, which was (likely) legal under English laws, by an English newspaper, on a website hosted in the UK.

Its a very interesting decision, as on the one hand its a clear recognition that the web has moved past traditional publishing boundaries and into the realm of global. A site hosted in the UK is still easily available anywhere in the world, and with people using things like Google Alerts, a mention of a famous persons name can be disseminated beyond national boarders. From that perspective I applaud the progressive approach of the EU. It may have taken them 25 years, but they are finally showing some understanding of the internet.

On the other hand however we are faced with a situation that publishing on-line within the EU means taking account of all legislation that might be applicable across the EU. Whilst the Mirror may have the resources at its disposal to achieve this, there are many smaller publications which don't. They may have a reasonable familiarity with their own laws, but how many are aware of slander legislation in Denmark, or the impact of a negative comment about a brand in Spain?

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out, will this be a prompt to harmonize EU libel laws in particular? We already see famous people doing jurisdiction selection, this makes it far easier, and gives scope for you to sue an organization where 1 month ago they were acting entirely within the law.

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