Bloggers and Defamation

This semester, the Advanced Legal Research at Brooklyn Law School used a fact pattern involving defamation in online blogs as an in-class example to demonstrate research strategies for finding primary and secondary legal sources. Now as the semester is ending, a Spanish language news item from The Press and Society Institute (IPYS) reports that on October 29, 2010, a Peruvian court sentenced journalist and law school graduate José Alejandro Godoy, who runs the blog Desde el Tercer Piso (From the Third Floor), to three years in prison, a fine of $107,000 (300,000 soles) and 120 days of social work for “aggravated defamation” of a politician.

Godoy was convicted for an April posting in which he linked to several media outlets that discussed criminal accusations against former minister and congressman Jorge Mufarech Nemy. Godoy’s blog post criticized Nemy as a political “star” whose “shining achievements” were tax evasion, pursuing favorable treatment for his companies, and negotiating an advantageous agreement with an allegedly corrupt person from the television news business. The court’s opinion justifies the conviction based on the “star” and “shining achievements” wording, rather than the assertions about tax evasion and favors, for which Godoy provided links to journalist reports. The sentence, posted in Spanish on Scribd, has generated political and media criticism and IPYS called the ruling “unconstitutional and without precedent” and without legal merit.

For more details on the case, see Peru: Blogger Sentenced for Defamation of Former Politician written by Juan Arellano and translated by Stephen Cairns at Global Voices, an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from around the world.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection Law of the Internet by George B. Delta and Jeffrey H. Matsuura (Call #KF390.5.C6 D45 2009), a two volume set with these chapters: v. 1. Regulation of access, interoperability, and services; Jurisdictional issues in cyberspace; Antitrust; Intellectual property; Copyright; Patents; Trademarks; Privacy; Computer security; v. 2. Defamation; Obscene and indecent materials; Law of electronic contracts; E-business: the digital marketplace; Tax issues and electronic commerce; Export controls; E-government.