Speech Act Protects Against “Libel Tourism”

In What's the Buzz by Helen Gregg

By Helen Gregg

On Tuesday, President Obama signed the Speech Act, a law intended to protect US publishers and journalists from facing libel charges in countries with more stringent defamation laws, reported Publisher’s Weekly. Putting an end to “libel tourism,” the law ensures American authors are protected by the First Amendment for material produced in the United States, and prevents American courts from enforcing foreign libel judgments.

Like the Patriot Act, the Speech Act is an acronym — Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage. It is modeled on the Libel Tourism Protection Act, signed into law in 2008 after an American academic was sued for libel in a British court. The BBC reported yesterday: “The act targets ‘libel tourists’ who launch cases in countries whose legal systems are considered far more claimant-friendly, such as the UK. In the UK defendants must prove statements are true, whereas in the US claimants have to prove they are false.”

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Helen Gregg