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March 18, 2010

Japanese Supreme Court rules that the Internet should be held to libel standards

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There are forums and personal websites in the ELT world in Japan where it is quite common to make accusations about individuals or companies that are based on hearsay or unconfirmed information. The Japanese Supreme Court has now ruled that individuals posting comments on the Internet must be held to the same standards for criminal libel as writers in other forms of media, so we may all need to be a bit more careful to check our facts before making an accusation.

The case that led to the ruling involved a man who wrote on his own website that a company that operated ramen shops was a 'cult group' and was indicted for libel. He was found not guilty by the Tokyo District Court, but the ruling was overturned by the Tokyo High Court and now the Supreme Court.

The Asahi Shimbun reports: 'The top court ruled that, just as in the case of libel rulings on printed matter or speech, the only way in which libel would not apply is when the person making the posting could show "recognition of adequate cause based on reliable documents and grounds" for what was expressed. In other words, a person writing on the Internet would have to provide evidence to show that what was posted was believed to be correct.'

Click here for the full article.

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