The US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas was dealing with the bankruptcy of William Perry. It examined Perry’s sending of an email with links in it to a blog. Perry had not commented on or added to the links, US pressure group the Reporters Committee For Freedom Of The Press (RCFP) said.
The sending of those links was enough to constitute ‘publication’ under Texas defamation law, the Court found, in a ruling which has alarmed free speech activists including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the RCFP.
“[W]hen Perry published the Blog, he acted with actual malice or, alternatively, with reckless disregard of the truth,” said the Court, according to the RCFP. “Therefore, this Court concludes that Perry committed defamation in publishing the Blog to certain individuals.”
Read more on Out-Law.com.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press commented on this case last week:
In Perry’s case, the judge did state that the culmination of the e-mail messages Perry sent, along with other comments he made in regard to the plaintiff helped to show malice. However, the publication element of the defamation claim was based purely on the linked blogs.
The court said, “[W]hen Perry published the Blog, he acted with actual malice or, alternatively, with reckless disregard of the truth. Therefore, this Court concludes that Perry committed defamation in publishing the Blog to certain individuals.”
So if you’re in Texas, you can’t even send a link in private e-mail to someone without risking it being considered publication and subject to defamation suit? Yikes….