Libel laws and the internet have long since needed readjusting, probably ever since Godfrey v Demon back in 1999. Since Alisher Usmanov succeeded briefly taking down Craig Murray’s site (along with others, including Boris Johnson’s) the matter’s been an ongoing hot topic on the internet.
I’d put my name to a pledge of support for Craig Murray and Tim Ireland’s campaign against Schillings, Usmanov’s lawyers. Since then, the occasional inbound link has popped up in relation to this, and there’ve been a few further examples. And then, this morning, there was the rather miserable link that came in from, erm, the Miserable Old Fart.
Essentially, it concerns some kind of political spat in Scotland I don’t know much about and, frankly, care even less about. But it’s resulted in one councillor threatening a Labour blogger with a libel action due to something she’s posted on the site, an the Miserable blogger is taking us all to task for not leaping onto our keyboards and defending her:
“All of the following blogs were willing to support bloggerheads. Was their support real? Or was it just an opportunistic way of getting a hit on Technorati?
I hope that each and everyone of them will say a word in favour of Kezia’s right to freedom of expression – but I won’t hold my breath!”
If he wants to drum up support he’s got a funny way of going about it – having a pop at everbody on the list without pausing to consider that it probably hasn’t registered on many bloggers’ radars.
Usmanov was high-profile. This is perhaps a little more regional. Judging by the comments, I wasn’t the only person who’d never heard of it. Largely because I tend to avoid politics and political spats online these days, especially if they’re miles away and have very little relevance to anything I’m interested in.
Plus, there’s a lot that’s not as clear cut here. I don’t know the background or the ins and outs. It also makes a difference if any of the papers involved have been served with libel papers. I don’t know that either. The fact it feels more like a local political spat doesn’t help either. I was turned off from politics partly because of these spats a while ago.
So, without knowing the ins and outs and background (and not really having any real inclination to want to find out more), all I’ll say is if the libel action’s been taken specifically against the blogger than that’s wrong – and she shouldn’t have had to take it down. But that’s just an ‘if’, and I’m frankly less inclined to jump on any kind of free speech bandwagon because of the way it was approached. A little bit of politeness goes a long way, especially if you’re trying to draw support to a cause that nobody’s really heard of.