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Libel Tourism

Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
06:04 PM ET (US)
I think there is some resistance to libel tourism in its purest form - where there is no actual act or contact in the U.K., save for the fact that the supposedly libelous material can be accessed from the U.K. (e.g., over the Internet). However, in the case at issue the book would have actually been printed and distributed by a U.K. company, creating a much more significant nexus between the alleged libel and the U.K. for the purposes of jurisdiction.
Lawrence KestenbaumPerson was signed in when posted
05:25 PM ET (US)
I thought I'd heard that the UK was starting to resist the efforts of foreigners to sue for libel there.

Without Times v. Sullivan, it might be hazardous to publish a web site like

And despite being a public figure, a county commission colleague of mine was able to successfully sue for damages over a false news report broadcast on radio. Unfortunately the judgement was only against the "reporter" who broadcast the false report of my friend's arrest, not the radio station. And most of the judgement was still unpaid by the time of the defendant's death (with no assets) a few years later.
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
02:52 PM ET (US)
That would be the rationale for a limited public figure, like Terry Rakolta (the woman who attacked Fox over "Married with Children"), but is not always the case.
Edited 03-31-2004 04:34 PM
02:19 PM ET (US)
I had thought part of the rationale was that the person sought and benefitted from their public status, therefore they hardly had grounds to complain that it brought more media attention (and thus more likelihood of defamation).
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
01:18 PM ET (US)
Yep. You're describing an "involuntary public figure". But the rationale is the same - if the person is gaining that much media attention, the person probably also has the ability to use the media to respond to any allegations.

There's also the "limited public figure" - a person who is a public figure on a particular subject but not in general, such as a law professor who makes media appearances to speak on a particular subject. An involuntary public figure may also be a limited public figure, depending upon the reason why the person gained public attention.
12:24 PM ET (US)
And yet the Brit tabloids put ours to shame. Or lack of shame, I suppose.

One problem with the public/private figure split is "bootstrapping" private figures into public status--if the media talks about that person enough, do they become a public figure? If a TV news show discusses non-libellous matters about a private figure long and loud enough, do they then have the green light for a lower standard of diligence?
Aaron LarsonPerson was signed in when posted
09:42 AM ET (US)
(One of the more interesting U.S. libel cases, which may well have succeeded in another nation - Hustler Magazine v Falwell.)

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