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Internet Libel:Hyperlinks

May 15, 2012

McGrath & Anor v Dawkins & Ors (Rev 1) [2012] EWHC B3 (QB)

A website owner can be held liable for hyperlinks to another site which hosts defamatory material.The Claimant issued proceedings in defamation as to comments posted on a site richarddawkins.net forum, and on the reviews section of the Amazon website.

The judge said that the law on hyperlinks was uncertain. He thought that even if the law in England was as recently held in Canada that a mere hyperlink does not render the operator of the linking website liable for the content of the linked site, the decision may well be a fact-sensitive one,

In this case the Judge said.

“the two websites are very closely associated, the link is hidden, and the point of contact is the “Home” button which is normally regarded as taking you to the central hub of the same website you are already on. I therefore conclude that I am not satisfied at this stage that the 2nd Defendant was not answerable for the .net forum at the material time, and that it is a question fit for trial”