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Digital IP and the Supreme Court of Canada Crookes v. Newton

In late 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) defined the function of hyperlinks on websites and, in so doing, dealt with some novel issues raised by the Internet. This was a libel case involving a claim that the Respondent (Newton) defamed the Appellant (Crookes) by posting a hyperlink to a third party’s alleged defamatory material. A hyperlink [1] is a reference to data that the linkee can directly follow to access the target document. The SCC was clear that the link itself will not be viewed as a publication in a defamation action. However, the addition of commentary approving or adopting the content of the target document could give rise to liability. The Court held that the use of a hyperlink cannot, by itself, amount to publication, even if the hyperlink is followed and the defamatory content accessed. More…