Australia makes landmark net ruling

Thanks Borg77...Australia's high court has ruled that the financial publishers Dow Jones can be sued in the Australian state of Victoria over an article that appeared on their website. The defamation case was brought by Melbourne mining magnate Joseph Gutnik, who argued that the article could be read on the internet by people who knew him in Melbourne.

Dow Jones had argued that publication of the article on its Barron's website took place in the United States and wanted the case to be heard there. It is thought to be the first such decision in the high court of any country to consider the question of jurisdiction and the internet. Media organisations fear the ruling could unleash a flood of litigation around the world and will force them to review the content of their internet sites.

Mr Gutnik was delighted by the ruling. "It will certainly be re-established that the net is no different than a regular newspaper, that you have to be careful what you write and if you offend somebody or write malicious statements about people... then you can be subject to being prosecuted," he said.

Dow Jones had maintained that publication took place in New Jersey in the US and argued that courts in the State of Victoria had no jurisdiction. Several international media companies who also made submissions to the court - such as Reuters, News International and - backed up that position. Litigation laws in the US are less strict than those in Australia and publishers can also defend themselves with the First Amendment on freedom of speech.

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News source: BBC

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