AAN Joins Australian High Court Case

Internet publication again the issue

AAN has joined an amicus brief that is being submitted to the High Court of Australia in Gutnick v. Dow Jones.

The case deals on an international level with the same jurisdictional issues faced in Young vs. New Haven Advocate, a Federal court case that AAN joined as a “friend of the court” earlier this year.

In Gutnick, the Australian-resident plaintiff argues that Barron’s, which is owned by Dow Jones, published an article about him that contained allegedly defamatory material. Gutnick claims the article implied he had laundered money through a jailed money-launderer, Nachum Goldberg.

A lower court in Australia found that the article was published when it was downloaded in Australia, not when it was placed on Dow Jones’ Web site in New York.

Although Barron’s is published in the United States, targeted to an American audience, and uploaded onto its Web site at an American location, the fact that the article was accessible in Australia via the Internet was considered sufficient to confer jurisdiction there.

The case deals with the question of where Internet publication should be deemed to occur for purposes of exercising libel jurisdiction. It’s the first time the highest court of any nation has grappled with the issue. The case is scheduled to be heard May 28.

AAN joined the amicus because it believes that subjecting publishers to international jurisdiction for material published on the Internet will have a dangerously chilling effect on Web publishing.

In addition to AAN, the amici in Gutnick include AP, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., The Washington Post, the Tribune Co. and Amazon.com.