Friday, January 09, 2004

Libel Laws in the US are a Joke

To me if you have freedom of speech then you also have responsibility of speech. You can't just publish whatever you want without taking responsibility for the consequences. I have seen people and organizations attacked via outright lies published in newspapers and magazines and the media outlets get away with it because the target of their venom can't prove they published either with "malice" or "reckless disregard for the truth". Now how the hell are you supposed to prove either of those? The reporter just has to say "I published it in the public interest." or "I was given the information by a confidential source I considered reliable."

Some recent cases demonstrate the need for reform in this area: Magazine Ordered to Reveal Its Sources.

In libel cases I think the requirement that the target of the lies has to prove the publisher published either with malice or reckless disregard for the truth, should be thrown out and the publisher should be required to state the sources of defamatory accusations and if they don't then they have to prove what was published is true, i.e., the burden of proof is on the publisher, not on the target of the defamation.

The media and anyone else who publishes (e.g., we bloggers) needs to take far more responsibility for what they say than they currently do.

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