The Internet and Defamation Laws in Canada

Powerful Essays
How free is freedom of the press in Canada? The freedom of press is guaranteed by Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: “Everyone [has] the fundamental freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication” (Media Law). However, Section 1 states that the fundamental freedoms in democracy can be limited for justifiable reasons: “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” (Media Law). There are criminal and common laws on the provincial and federal levels which place legal restriction on how the press gathers and publishes information (Media Law). For example, there are criminal laws against trespassing and recording information (“Defamation on the Internet”). The essay will focus upon the law most relevant to freedom of the press issues, “defamation.” It will explore the issue of defamation within the context of internet use and showcase, through court cases, how online “private” messages such as e-mail are implacable in defamation cases.

According to the legal definition, defamation occurs in a specific case.

“[When] a person (individual, corporation, or society) says (slanders) or writes (libel) something damaging (not trivial) to the reputation of another person” (“Defamation on the Internet”). Slander cannot be anything trite but complaining about a product or a malicious comment on a blog or social media website can fall into this category (“Defamation on the Internet”).

This definition portrays defamation laws as highly subjective; it is dependent on the victims, perpetrator...

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Powell, Betsy. "Defamatory Email Costs Sender $7,800." The Toronto Star. Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd, 4 Sept. 2008. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. .

Proudfoot, Sharon. "Unruly World of Internet Leads to Rise in Libel Cases." CANWEST, 17 Mar. 2006. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. .

Sutherland, David F. "Defamation on the Internet." Ad IDEM / CMLA. David F. Sutherland & Associates, 1999. Web. 6 Apr. 2011. .

"Wiebe v Bouchard, 2005 BCSC 47." Roger McConchie Law - Defamation Privacy Media Injurious Falsehood Breach of Confidence Internet Law & Legal Services. McConchie Law Corporation. Web. 11 Apr. 2011. .
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