Aug 062010
 
 August 6, 2010  Court, Online

Shannon P. Duffy writes:

Aviation lawyer and seasoned pilot Arthur Alan Wolk knows quite a bit about the stratosphere and the troposphere, but he may have learned something new this week about the blogosphere when a federal judge tossed out his libel suit against the bloggers at Overlawyered.com.

As U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin sees it, a blog is legally the same as any other “mass media,” meaning that any libel lawsuit filed against a blog in Pennsylvania must make its way to court within one year.

[…]

Wolk has already filed a notice of appeal to challenge McLaughlin’s ruling.

Rosen said he believed that McLaughlin had erred by failing to apply recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decisions that say the discovery rule tolls the statute of limitations until an “awakening event.”

The Internet, Rosen said, poses “unique challenges” for the courts in the field of defamation.

“Unlike mass media print defamation claims, where the publication is pervasive for a short time, but soon becomes yesterday’s news, the Internet is a different animal,” Rosen said.

“In cases such as Mr. Wolk’s, involving a blog that is relatively obscure, but which published a false statement that may appear on any Google type search, the discovery rule is of particular importance,” Rosen said.

Onufrak said that if his clients had not won the case on statute-of-limitations grounds, he was confident that they would have won on First Amendment grounds because the blog entry was not defamatory and would have been considered protected opinion.

Read more about the case and issues on Law.com.

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