January 13, 2009
Thoughts on Libel Tourism
David B. Rivkin Jr. and Bruce D. Brown (both from Baker Hostetler's DC office) had an op-ed in Sunday's WSJ on the phenomenon of libel tourism: the practice of suing Americans for defamation in foreign courts (particularly England) where First Amendment protections do not apply.
Rivkin and Brown propose federal legislation under which American authors sued for defamation in a foreign court would have a cause of action here for damages. Rivkin and Brown would base the cause of action on "whether the [foreign] plaintiffs are seeking to punish speech protected under the First Amendment." Finally, Rivkin and Brown argue that the law "should give courts the authority to impose damages that amount to double any foreign judgment, plus court costs and attorneys' fees (in both proceedings) for good measure," plus additional penalties for "[h]abitual libel tourists."
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