The Department of Justice has gone off and gotten a report written about how they should sort out the Irish law on defamation. Basically, defamation is when you say something bad about someone that you can’t prove to be true. At the moment, it is very easy to sue anyone involved (the writer, the newspaper, the publisher, even the newspaper seller) for defaming you. You can win big damages. It’s a big problem on the Internet, especially for people (like Tom Murphy at boards.ie) who run online mailing lists or discussion boards.
The report makes good recommendations on how to sort the problem out. It proposes a defence of ‘innocent publication’ to allow list admins to avoid liability for the actions of all their users.
It makes sensible recommendations for sorting out how the whole of defamation law operates in Ireland. Hopefully the government will implement what this report recommends and sort out this headache for once and for all.
The report is a little weighty, but it’s well-written, and apart from the draft legislation in the appendices, you can skim through it quite quickly.