Libel reform petition

Please sign: http://www.libelreform.org/sign

England’s libel laws are unjust, against the public interest and internationally criticised – there is urgent need for reform

Freedom to criticise and question, in strong terms and without malice, is the cornerstone of argument and debate, whether in scholarly journals, on websites, in newspapers or elsewhere. Our current libel laws inhibit debate and stifle free expression. They discourage writers from tackling important subjects and thereby deny us the right to read about them.

The law is so biased towards claimants and so hostile to writers that London has become known as the libel capital of the world. The rich and powerful bring cases to London on the flimsiest grounds (libel tourism), because they know that 90% of cases are won by claimants. Libel laws intended to protect individual reputation are being exploited to suppress fair comment and criticism.

The cost of a libel trial is often in excess of £1 million and 140 times more expensive than libel cases in mainland Europe; publishers (and individual journalists, authors, academics, performers and blog-writers) cannot risk such extortionate costs, which means that they are forced to back down, withdraw and apologise for material they believe is true, fair and important to the public.

The English PEN/Index on Censorship report has shown that there is an urgent need to amend the law to provide a stronger, wider and more accessible public interest defence. Sense About Science has shown that the threat of libel action leads to self-censorship in scientific and medical writing.

We the undersigned, in England and beyond, urge politicians to support a bill for major reforms of the English libel laws now, in the interests of fairness, the public interest and free speech.

16 comments ↓

#1 steve on 03.20.10 at 11:57 am

/signed

Steve Garvey StudIED IMechE BSc.(Hons)

(i hate writing those letters after my name .. mind you , when i finish my masters , i’ll have Meng. and Ceng. to add to them… and one of my tutors is answering my comments with ” go do a PhD on it” …jees , i just want to get through this one first : /

i guess the “pulldown” of the last installment of “bruce on games” is part of the out of court settlement then m8 ?
all the best,

steve

#2 Me on 03.20.10 at 2:32 pm

On November 13th, 2009 in an article entitled ‘Evony fighting fund – a big thank you’ you wrote:

“I would like to say a big thank you to all the many people who have contributed to this fund, I have been more than pleasantly surprised by the response”

On March 16th, 2010 in an article entitled ‘David Guo Vs Bruce Everiss’ you wrote:

“Unfortunately David Guo has lots of money and I have very little. Solicitors are very expensive which is why I have been corresponding with Guo’s solicitors myself”

Where has the money gone that was donated by kind individuals across the internet? What have you spent this money on? Have you declared this money?

#3 Bruce on 03.20.10 at 2:38 pm

@Me
The cost of a libel trial, as you can see above, is around a million pounds.
David Guo’s privacy claim against me would have cost several tens of thousands of pounds to defend had it come to court. As it is my costs on this are an amount very similar to the donations to date.

#4 Me on 03.20.10 at 3:22 pm

That is not an answer, you can give us a break down as to where the money went? you’ve declared this money?

#5 Bruce on 03.20.10 at 3:26 pm

@Me

No breakdown necessary, I haven’t spent a penny of it yet. It is still in PayPal.
Who do you suggest I declare it to? If someone gives me a gift it is between me and them.

How much have you contributed?

#6 Steve A on 03.20.10 at 3:40 pm

Is there a “loser pays” legal costs law in UK or Australia?

#7 Bruce on 03.20.10 at 3:55 pm

@SteveA

Yes, all explained here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/aug/31/news.politicsandthemedia

#8 Me on 03.20.10 at 4:21 pm

Unless you are a registered as a charity or non-profit company your donations are taxable, you seem pretty cagey over this I’d just like to be sure people’s donations are being spent justly.

#9 Me on 03.20.10 at 4:28 pm

Is it not too late for you to agree to remove the articles and save yourself from this libel action?

#10 Stephen on 03.20.10 at 4:29 pm

I really want to sign, but I’m not comfortable in giving personal details out (postal code ect)

#11 Stephen on 03.20.10 at 4:31 pm

I also have no idea what my “message” should be.

#12 AC on 03.20.10 at 4:33 pm

I am a firm supporter of the Libel Reform Bill. But any libel reform needs to protect people in an international context and be integrated into the criminal justice system too. The reason why this is the case is that some parties are now instigating criminal libel in order to attack a publisher. Currently the most interesting case to examine is France v. Weiler. Weiler is a New York University law professor who is currently facing criminal libel charges in France through evidence presented by an Israeli citizen over the publication of a book review. Some of the details can be found here http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2010/nyu-law-professor-charged-criminal-libel-french-court-refusing-take-down-critical-book-rev.

While the academic and legal community continues to remain in state of shock, what the France v. Weiler cases shows us is that even if freedom of speech is protected within one’s own state, like it is within the US, an individual can still face criminal charges for any comments that are read outside of that state. The implications of this are substantial. It means that freedom of speech does not exist on the internet. Indeed, due to the France v. Weiler case a number of academics are now refusing to offer book reviews for this very reason. This is likely to extend into all areas where reviews are conducted, including game reviews.

Naturally this means that all libel actions should be treated as a potential criminal charge from outside of your own state. This is why it is better to involve the law enforcement authorities right from the time any libel action has been threatened, especially if you have good reason to believe that corruption has transpired in making those allegations.

However, publishers also have a duty of responsibility. This is why some legal professionals are now offering legal consultancy services. Here is one such entity that is a specialist in this field http://www.website-law.co.uk/index.html. One can learn a lot by simply examining this website. Here is one page that readers here may like to examine with particular care http://www.website-contracts.co.uk/acatalog/our_terms_of_use.html and here are the legal consultants behind it http://www.website-law.co.uk/about.html.

Enjoy adding your name to the Libel Reform Bill.

AC

#13 Bruce on 03.20.10 at 7:46 pm

@Me
I think you are David Guo, or one of his flunkies.
There is no need to pay tax on a gift in the West.

#14 Me on 03.20.10 at 8:02 pm

Then you should check the tax laws on donations Bruce, your assumption is wrong, I have nothing to do with Evony or any of the people you mention.

#15 Stephen on 03.20.10 at 10:20 pm

I doubt a thirteen year old from Canada has a say in this.

#16 TL on 03.21.10 at 3:21 pm

@Me
The UK allows single monetary gifts of up to £3,000 per year. A parent may give an uncapped monetary gift that is tax free provided the recipient does not die within the first 7 years of receiving the gift.

The first £3,000 of the gifts received are deemed to be tax-free (£6,000 if no gift had been made the previous year).

I’m sure Bruce is well aware of gift tax in the UK. Go get ‘em Bruce!

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