Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Libel reform

* Picture creditRobert Sharp / English PEN

An important case was heard today, Tuesday 23rd February, at the Royal Courts of Justice in the United Kingdom.

It was the case of Simon Singh v the British Chiropractic Association. This case has turned into a focal point for the broader issue of libel reform.

Libel reform is an issue that a lot of people should be interested in...

  • Got kids? Don't think you are free to discuss what you think of childcare ideas with other parents on the web. Link
  • Rely on new medicines and drugs? Don't think that academics are free to raise any doubts they have about their efficacy or safety. Link
  • Got a business or reputation to protect? Don't think that Britain's restrictive and archaic libel laws protect you. They don't, unless you happen to have enormously deep pockets. The cost also constrains newspapers from publishing the truth. Link.
  • Think that because you live abroad, British libel laws don't affect you? Think again. If you publish or speak in the UK, British laws apply to you--no matter how few copies of your words are read here. Link. Also see Wikipedia on Libel Tourism.
Indeed, Britain's libel laws are causing so much trouble overseas several US states have introduced laws to protect American citizens from enforcement of legal settlements in foreign jurisdictions such as Britain. A federal law is before US Congress.

Libel reform affects everyone. We need laws designed for the 21st century. Laws that consider both freedom of speech and access to the law.

If you agree.......please sign the petition, and ask your friends to sign it too. 100,000 signatures are needed.