Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

From the Law Commission of Ontario: Defamation Law in the Internet Age: Final Report (2020) @LCO_CDO

The Law Commission of Ontario has published Defamation Law in the Internet Age: Final Report (March 2020).

This is the Final Report of the Law Commission of Ontario’s (LCO’s) Defamation Law in the Internet Age project.
The LCO’s project examined Ontario’s defamation laws and how they should be updated to account for “internet speech,” including social media, blogs, internet platforms and digital media. The Report concludes that law reform is needed to modernize defamation and better protect freedom of expression in an online world. These reforms should build on successful common law developments and Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation.
The Final Report makes 39 recommendations addressing Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act, the substantive law of defamation, publication, notice, limitation periods, injunctions, jurisdiction, take-downs, internet intermediaries and related issues.
Major recommendations include: • Ontario should introduce a new Defamation Act to promote access to justice and adapt defamation law to the realities of the internet. The new Act should include provisions:
o Encouraging alternative dispute resolution of online defamation disputes;
o Establishing a new notice regime for defamation complaints;
o Establishing a “single publication rule”;
o Establishing a two-year limitation period for defamation actions; and,
o Expanding courts’ authority to order interlocutory injunctions to take-down online content in limited, prescribed circumstances. • The new Defamation Act should also establish new legal responsibilities for internet platforms that host third party content accessible to Ontarians.
These duties should include obligations to: o Pass on notice of defamation complaints to online publishers; and,
o Take down content if the publisher of the content does not respond to notice. • Internet platforms that do not fulfill these duties should be liable for court fines. In order to protect free expression, intermediary platforms should not be considered publishers where they passively host third party content.
A full list of recommendations is in Appendix A of the Report.

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