Friday, October 20, 2006

First posting online starts libel clock ticking

A federal judge has ruled that the one-year statute of limitations for bringing libel lawsuits in Texas also applies to articles posted on the Interent, Associated Press reports. U.S. District Judge David C. Godbey ruled that the one-year clock begins ticking when the article first appears online, even if the article remains online beyond the one-year period.

Russell F. Coleman, vice president and general counsel of Belo Corp., a defendant in the case, told AP:
"The ruling is important because it allows Internet publishers - not limited to newspapers - to engage in the free exchange of ideas without being exposed to defamation claims based on articles viewable in the present but first posted to the Internet years earlier."
This is the second ruling by a federal judge applying Texas libel limits to online media. The suit was brought by Nationwide Bi-Weekly Administration Inc. against The Dallas Morning News, personal finance columnist Scott Burns and parent company Belo.

The decision is not available from Judge Godbey's opinions page. If anyone knows of a copy I can post to, please let me know.

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