Monday, 25 May 2009

Americans Take a Further Step to Make Themselves Immune from the Rest of the World's Laws

Americans are now taking further steps to make themselves immune from the laws of other countries. Initiatives to counteract foreign libel laws are gathering momentum, allowing Americans to countersue people who have brought libel laws against them abroad.

This is outrageous. If Americans want to publish books in Britain, they should be subject to the libel laws of Britain. If they don't want to incur that risk, they don't have to.

While it's clear that Britain's libel laws are outmoded and in need of reform, that's completely beside the point. Anyone who publishes here should be subject to our laws. I will say, though, that British judges regarding publication of material on an American website as sufficient grounds for bringing a libel case in Britain is absurd and should be stopped.

British libel laws quite properly require the person making the potentially libellous claim to prove that the claim is true. American laws take the opposite approach, requiring the person allegedly libelled to prove that the claim is false. So in America I can publish a book about you, claiming you are a child molester, and the burden of proof is on you to prove that you are not. How can you do that? How can you prove a negative? The American approach is clearly absurd.

Britain's response to these initiatives should be to introduce a new law, saying that whenever a plaintiff in a British libel case is countersued in America double the amount of any damages awarded in America are immediately awarded in Britain.

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