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Legal issues of WWW & Electronic Publishing


It is clear that the law of defamation will be applied to the various forms of Internet usage, including the creation and management of WWW sites, and will inevitably affect the way in which individuals and institutions use it. There are, however, a number of unresolved questions as to its application in this area. These include, who may be liable ? While definitive answers are difficult to come by, the answer to this in terms of e-mail may well include: with regard to the WWW: In the US it seems that the Courts have been inclined to hold the sysops of bulletin boards liable for material held on their boards, be it pornography, illegally copied software or other copyrighted material (1). The debate in the US thus also touches on First Amendment issues and whether bulletin boards etc. should be granted the same type of privileged status as newspapers with regard to publication of allegations about public figures. In the UK, the issues raised by electronic defamation inevitably have a less constitutional bent. As yet there seem to be no WWW based cases or ongoing actions.

What then are the matters which need to be considered in regard to an action for libel?: