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Gutnick v Dow Jones; 10 Dec 2002

References: [2002] HCA 56
Links: Austlii
Ratio (High Court of Australia) The Court rejected a challenge, in the context of Internet libel, to the applicability of such established principles as that vouchsafed in Duke of Brunswick: ‘It was suggested that the World Wide Web was different from radio and television because the radio or television broadcaster could decide how far the signal was to be broadcast. It must be recognised, however, that satellite broadcasting now permits very wide dissemination of radio and television and it may, therefore, be doubted that it is right to say that the World Wide Web has a uniquely broad reach. It is no more or less ubiquitous than some television services. In the end, pointing to the breadth or depth of reach of particular forms of communication may tend to obscure one basic fact. However broad may be the reach of any particular means of communication, those who post information on the World Wide Web do so knowing that the information they make available is available to all and sundry without any geographic restriction. . . . A publisher, particularly one carrying on the business of publishing, does not act to put matter on the Internet in order for it to reach a small target. It is its ubiquity which is one of the main attractions to users of it. And any person who gains access to the Internet does so by taking an initiative to gain access to it in a manner analogous to the purchase or other acquisition of a newspaper, in order to read it. . . Comparisons can, as I have already exemplified, readily be made. If a publisher publishes in a multiplicity of jurisdictions it should understand, and must accept, that it runs the risk of liability in those jurisdictions in which the publication is not lawful and inflicts damage.’
This case cites:

  • Appeal from – Gutnick v Dow Jones ([2002] HCA 56, Austlii, [2001] VSC 305)
    (High Court of Victoria) Callinan J said: ‘A publisher, particularly one carrying on the business of publishing, does not act to put matter on the Internet in order for it to reach a small target. It is its ubiquity which is one of the main . .
  • Cited – Duke of Brunswick v Harmer QBD ((1849) 14 QB 185, [1849] EngR 915, Commonlii, (1849) 117 ER 75)
    On 19 September 1830 an article was published in the Weekly Dispatch. The limitation period for libel was six years. The article defamed the Duke of Brunswick. Seventeen years after its publication an agent of the Duke purchased a back number . .

(This list may be incomplete)
This case is cited by:

  • Appealed to – Gutnick v Dow Jones ([2002] HCA 56, Austlii, [2001] VSC 305)
    (High Court of Victoria) Callinan J said: ‘A publisher, particularly one carrying on the business of publishing, does not act to put matter on the Internet in order for it to reach a small target. It is its ubiquity which is one of the main . .
  • Cited – Lewis and others v King CA (Bailii, [2004] EWCA Civ 1329, Times 26-Oct-04)
    The claimant sought damages for defamation for an article published on the Internet. The claimant Don King sued in London even though he lived in the US as did the defendants.
    Held: A publication via the internet occurred when the material was . .
  • Cited – Metropolitan International Schools Ltd. (T/A Skillstrain And/Or Train2Game) v Designtechnica Corp (T/A Digital Trends) and Others QBD ([2011] 1 WLR 1743, Bailii, [2009] EWHC 1765 (QB), Times, [2009] EMLR 27)
    The claimant complained that the defendant had published on its internet forums comments by posters which were defamatory of it, and which were then made available by the second defendant search engine. The court was asked what responsibility a . .

(This list may be incomplete)

Last Update: 26-Apr-16
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