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September 1, 2009

Defamation, Libel and the Internet

Filed as News with 2 comments

Bruce Everiss is a well-known video game marketer who writes a blog on the topic entitled, quite appropriately, Bruce on Games.

In recent weeks Everiss has been very critical of the online role-playing game Evony, perhaps most famous for it increasingly sexualized ads, and highlighted what he saw as misconduct by both the company behind the game, Evony LLC, and the software itself.

Everiss was always careful to support his allegations with research, either his own or referencing work performed by others, but he nonetheless found himself on the receiving end of a threat of a defamation lawsuit.

While this is not completely out of the ordinary in and of itself, what made Everiss’ case more unusual is that the threat was coming from an Australian solicitor and was threatening action in an Australian court. This is despite the fact that Evony LLC is, by all accounts, a Chinese company and Everiss is a UK-based blogger.

Other authors who have written about Evony, including the UK newspaper The Guardian, have received similar threats. The case is controversial because much of what is being disputed as defamatory is widely viewed as being true, with at least some evidence to support it, or appears to be personal opinion. However, clearly Evony disputes this and calls Everiss’ statements “clearly defamatory” in their letter to him.

But as interesting as the case itself is, it highlights another threat to bloggers, one very similar to what I reported on with copyright and jurisdiction, since works published to the Internet are distributed all over the world, you can defame the reputation of a company and/or a person in any country or jurisdiction. That, in turn, means you can be brought into almost any court in the world for a defamation suit. read more

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