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section heading icon     landmarks

This page highlights major reports, legislation and litigation regarding online defamation.

It covers -

Context is provided by the broader media, communications & technology timeline elsewhere on this site.

subsection heading icon     foundations

1275 Edward I's De Scandalum Magnatum (Eng)

1597 Vanspike v Cleyson (Eng)

1605 De Libellis Famosus case (Eng)

1633 R v Prynn (Eng)

1647 March's Actions For Slander

1633 R v Twyn (Eng)

1734 Zenger case (US) - establishes truth as an absolute defense in US defamation law

1774 Lord Mansfield states "whatever a man publishes he publishes at his peril"

1784 R v Shipley (UK)

1796 Holt v Scholefield (UK)

1812 Thorley v Kerry (UK)

1829 M'Pherson v Daniels (UK)

1830 Starkie's Treatise on the Law of Slander & Libel

1834 Toogood v Spyring (UK)

1835 UK Libel Act - truth allowed as defence for first time in Britain

1839 Stockdale v Hansard (UK)

1842 Coates v Shortland (NZ) - first NZ defamation case?

1843 Lord Campbell's Libel Act (UK)

1847 Windeyer's Libel Act

1849 'Duke of Brunswick's Case' (UK)

1855 UK ecclesiastical courts lose jurisdiction over defamation

1871 Purcell v Sowler (UK)

1878 Whistler v Ruskin (UK)

1886 Bryce v Rusden (NZ and UK)

1881 Press Freedom Law (national insult law) in France

1891 Slander of Women Act (UK)

1893 Wilde v Queensberry (UK)

1901 Bendall v Mabin (NZ)

1910 Hulton & Co v Jones (UK)

1912 Massey v New Zealand Times (NZ)

1917 Adam v Ward (UK)

1929 Cassidy v Daily Mirror Newspapers (UK)

1931 Richards v Sun Newspapers Ltd (NZ)

1932 Smith's Newspapers v Becker

subsection heading icon     new technology

1934 US court rules in Brown v Paramount Public Corp that defamation in motion pictures could be treated as libel

1934 Youssoupoff v MGM Pictures Ltd (UK)

1937 Shirley Temple v Graham Greene (UK)

1946 Victorian Supreme Court finds Robert Close guilty of an 'obscene libel' in Love Me, Sailor

1947 Hartman v Winchell (US) - slander in radio broadcast constituted libel if defamatory comments read from a script

1948 UK Porter Committee on Defamation

1950 Power Without Glory case in Australia

1952 Hood v New Zealand Press Association (NZ)

1957 Crossman v Spectator (UK)

1959 Holloway v New Zealand Truth Ltd (NZ)

1960 Rupert Murdoch testifies on behalf of News Corp and Rohan Rivett in Stuart Case

1961 NSW District Court condemns Alan Reid's roman a clef The Bandar-Log as libellous

1964 New York Times v Sullivan (US) - Supreme Court rules that public officials cannot sue successfully for libel unless reporters or editors guilty of "actual malice"

1970 O'Shaughnessy v Mirror Newspapers

subsection heading icon     reforms

1972 UK Faulks Committee on Defamation

1972 Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) report on Defamation

1974 NSW Defamation Act

1974 Gertz v Robert Welch (US) - Supreme Court rules that plaintiff could not win suit when statemen in question was of opinion rather than fact

1975 Goldsmith v Private Eye (UK)

1977 Morosi v Mirror Newspapers

1978 Dugan v Mirror Newspapers

1979 ALRC report on Unfair Publication: Defamation & Privacy

1980 British Steel Corp v Granada Television (UK)

1980 Boyd v Mirror Newspapers

1980 Morosi v Broadcasting Station 2GB

1988 Kennett v Farmer

1990 McDonalds v Morris, Steel et al (UK) - 'McLibel' case

subsection heading icon     and the net

1991 Cubby v Compuserve (US)

1992 Commonwealth Broadcasting Services Act

1992 Californian Anti-SLAPP Act (US)

1993 Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspaper Ltd (UK)

1993 Carson v John Fairfax

1994 Rindos v Hardwick

1994 Theophanous v Herald & Weekly Times

1995 Stratton Oakmont v Prodigy (US)

1995 Sporting Shooters Association v Gun Control Australia

1995 Haines v ABC

1995 Charleston v News Group Newspapers

1995 David Irving v Penguin Books & Deborah Lipstadt

1996 US Telecommunications Act

1996 UK Defamation Act

1997 Zeran v AOL (US)

1997 Godfrey v Demon Internet (UK)

1997 Lange v ABC

1997 Lange v Atkinson (NZ)

1998 Lunney v Prodigy (US)

1998 Steinhoefel v Best (Germany)

1998 International Telephone Link v IDG (NZ)

Macquarie Bank v Berg

1999 Braintech v Kostiuk (Canada)

2000 Buddhist Society of WA v Bristile

subsection heading icon     recent developments

2001 Gutnick v Dow Jones

2001 Loutchansky v Times Newspapers (UK)

2001 Marsden v Amalgamated Television Services

2001 ABC v McBride

2001 Mickelberg v 6PR Southern Cross Radio

2001 Brown v O'Brien (NZ)

2002 Hall v National Business Review (NZ)

2003 Cullen v White - WA Supreme Court awards $95,000 damages for defamatory sites

2004 Bangoura v Washington Post (Ontario)

2004 Weir v Vaquero Energy (Alberta)

2004 settlement in Gutnick v Dow Jones

2004 Rowe, Idour and Woods v Independent Newspapers and McLeod (NZ)

2004 Ross v Holley (Ontario Superior Court of Justice)

2005 Yousef Jameel v Dow Jones (UK Court of Appeal)

2005 criminal libel action in South Australia against MP staff over claims of paedophilia

2005 Ontario Appeals Court overturns assertion of juridiction in Bangoura v Washington Post

2005 Kaplan v Go Daddy (NSW SC)

2006 introduction of uniform defamation laws in Australia

2006 Law Lords overturn Jameel v Wall Street Journal Europe decision by English Court of Appeal

2006 award of US$11.3m for online defamation in Scheff v. Bock

2006 Barrett v. Rosenthal decision under CDA in US

2007 US$100m damages against Time Warner over Time article reporting UN claims that Suharto amassed fortune of at least US$15bn as leader of Indonesia

2007 John Fairfax Publications v Gacic (Australian HC)


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version of December 2007
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