The Iowa Supreme Court has decided Internet publishers deserve the same protections from libel suits as other media outlets. The Des Moines Register reports: “Friday’s ruling extends free-speech protections long enjoyed by newspapers and broadcasters to companies that distribute Internet content, such as book publishers, experts said. But the court declined to extend those rights to individual social media users, saying the victims of cyberbullying and online smear campaigns should be able to more easily sue for defamation.”
The decision was made in response to a 2008 lawsuit filed by Beth Weier against both her ex-husband, author Scott Weier and self-publishers Author Solutions, Inc (ASI). Scott Weier self-published his memoir via ASI and Mrs. Weier objected to “statements in the book [she] considered false and defamatory.”
The Iowa Supreme Court prevented Mr. Weier from distributing the book for the 18 months they took to review the case. In the end they ruled to protect “any person or company that receives writings and makes them ‘more suitable and accessible for the public to read.'” In other words, Author Solutions is not eligible to be sued under this reading of the law, while Mr. Weier is.
The piece relays: “Beth Weier’s lawyer, Gary Dickey, said he was disappointed the court expanded the definition of media. He said ASI shouldn’t qualify for protections since it simply did ‘cover art and bound the book and put it on a website.'”