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Canada: Linking to defamatory content - Crookes v. Wikimedia Foundation

In Crookes v. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (B.C. Sup. Ct. Aug. 29, 2008) the Supreme Court of British Columbia had to decide if under Canadian law linking to an article that contains statements alleged to be defamatory, does, by itself, constitute defamation. Liability could only exist if the link publisher made any statement relating to the defamatory material itself, the court said:

"[32] In the present case, although hyperlinks referred the reader to articles now claimed by the plaintiffs to be defamatory, the plaintiffs agree that the defendant did not publish any defamatory content on the p2pnet website itself. The defendant did not reproduce any of the disputed content from the linked articles on p2pnet and did not make any comment on the nature of the linked articles. In these circumstances, a reader of the p2pnet website who did not click on the hyperlinks provided would not have any knowledge of the allegedly defamatory content.


[34] I do not wish to be misunderstood. It is not my decision that hyperlinking can never make a person liable for the contents of the remote site. For example, if Mr. Newton had written "the truth about Wayne Crookes is found here" and "here" is hyperlinked to the specific defamatory words, this might lead to a different conclusion."

      The ruling

Also see Neuburger, Canadian Court Rules Linking to Libel Isn't (Necessarily) Libel





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