Franks hears arguments on libel tourism

Legal Times Blog:

For U.S. authors and publishers, “libel tourism” is no vacation, and a U.S. House of Representatives committee met on Thursday to discuss possible remedies.

“Libel tourism” refers to bringing libel suits against U.S.-based defendants in foreign countries that have weaker protection for speech than does the United States. The United Kingdom, for example, has nothing analogous to the actual-malice requirement in the United States that protects speech involving public officials or public figures.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law met on Thursday to explore ways American authors, journalists, and publishers could protect themselves against such foreign libel suits. They heard from a panel of three legal experts and a U.S. author who was sued in the United Kingdom after 23 of her books were purchased online there.

The U.S. author, Rachel Ehrenfeld of the American Center for Democracy, wrote the book Funding Evil about the financing of terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida and Hamas. One Saudi billionaire named in the book brought suit in the United Kingdom and won a $225,000 verdict.

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