Is Defamation Litigation Out of Control?

Many people believe that defamation of character litigation is out of control. They go on and on about how rising costs are encouraging defendants to settle "frivolous" cases and "abusive" discovery procedures are chilling free speech. But they don’t really offer any solutions to this so-called problem.  Instead, they just talk, talk, and talk, and it’s really getting old.

The real problem here is the delusion that Internet speech deserves greater protections than speech made in other places.  It shouldn’t.  And I predict that courts will begin to see the error of their ways in the near future.

What do you think?

Comments

  1. says

    Interesting question. The reason there’s been a public dust-up in my opinion is that people try to sue the intermediary and that’s the person with money. Most average/everyday folk who post defamatory material on the internet aren’t viewed as worthy targets by lawyers. There’s been a tug between people wanting to hold the intermediary liable and the actual speaker liable. On the one side people complain that defamation lawyers are out of control. On the other side people complain that the free speech zealots need to relax.
    I don’t think this is the result of internet exceptionalism, it’s just the dynamics of who makes a better defendant.

  2. says

    Agree that the identity and characteristics of the defendant bears on this issue to a degree. But I also think that internet exceptionalism does play a role here. Why else would free speech zealots take issue with a subpoena compelling disclosure of a poster’s identity if they didn’t believe that speech on the Internet deserved greater protection? Worse, they spread the false notion that the Internet is anonymous, and others believe them.

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