Date of this Version
The High Court decision in the landmark Dow Jones v. Gutnick defamation case in December 2002 was eagerly anticipated. The unanimous decision that defamation occurs where Internet material is downloaded rather than where it is uploaded angered media proprietors and free speech advocates who predicted publishers would have to work to the lowest common denominator of the most restrictive laws throughout the world if they were to avoid litigation. This article revisits the decision and finds the post-Gutnick publishing environment may not be as confusing or as restrictive as first made out. It argues that, despite the financial and intellectual investment in the appeal, any other result was improbable. The decision will serve as a useful teaching tool and as a warning to publishers to treat their Internet products as separate entities.
This document has been peer reviewed.