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Q6. As an alternative to introducing a single publication rule, do you consider that the Defamation Act 1996 should be amended to extend the defence of qualified privilege to publications on online archives outside the one year limitation period for the initial publication, unless the publisher refuses or neglects to update the electronic version, on request, with a reasonable letter or statement by the claimant by way of explanation or contradiction? Please give reasons for your answer.

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Online archives are the current equivalent of microfiche copies of newspapers. Most media organs, for example, publish online and leave the page there in perpetuity. The act of publication happens only once — when the article leaves the copy desk and is submitted to the website. Repeated visits to the website are no different from someone picking up a copy of yesterday's newspaper on a train or looking at an archive copy of The Times in a library; neither of which would be considered a new publication of the article in print media.

Posted by Owen Blacker on 2009-10-04 01:59:38.
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