Saturday, September 13, 2008

Free Speech...Everywhere

A recent article in Publisher's Weekly deals with free speech issues outside of the US:

Nineteen organizations involved with free speech issues have signed a statement sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee asking them to support the Freedom of Speech Protection Act of 2008 (S. 2977). The bill would prohibit foreign libel judgments from being enforced in the U.S. if the speech would be protected by U.S. laws. The bill was introduced after a series of libel judgments were handed down against American authors in foreign courts where speech does not does not have the level of protection it does in the U.S. Earlier this year, New York State passed a law, The Libel Terrorism Protection Act, that prohibits the enforcement of a foreign libel judgment unless a New York court determines that it satisfies the free speech and free press protections guaranteed by the First Amendment and the New York State Constitution.

Chris Finan, president of American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, one of the 19 groups to sign the statement, said the so-called practice of “libel tourism” “is a serious threat to American writers and publishers who face the nightmare of defending themselves before unfriendly courts where their books were never published.” Finan said the statement was sent to the Judiciary Committee with the hope that they will act on the bill before the current session ends. Finan noted that the New York bill moved quickly so it is possible Congress could pass the legislation in the current session.

The world keeps getting smaller every day, and our laws need to keep up. What do you think?

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