Dow Jones & Co. v. Gutnick case brief summary
o Dow Jones operates WSJ.com, wherein it published an article that Gutnick claims defamed him.
o Jurisdiction is proper in the forum in which the injury was sustained.
o What jurisdiction’s laws should apply?
§ Dow Jones has its editorial offices for WSJ.com in the city of New York.
§ Material for publication, once it is prepared by its author, is transferred to a computer located in New Jersey.
§ Dow Jones argued that it should be rightfully held to the jurisdiction of where it published the material. If the alternative was held proper, a published would be bound to take account of the law of every country on earth (and effectively bind itself and its actions to the most restrictive of all legal regimes so as to avoid liability).
o “There is obvious force in pointing to the need for the published to be able to identify, in advance, by what law of defamation the publication may be judged.”
o BUT, however broad may be the reach of any particular means of communication, those who make information accessible by a particular method do so knowing of the reach that their information may have.
· In particular, those who post information on the internet do so knowing that the information they make available is available to all without any geographic restriction.
· Moreover, the fear that publishers will be subject to every law in the world is unreal when it is recalled that in all except the most unusual cases, identifying the person about whom material is to be published will readily identify the defamation law to which that person may resort.
· Where a person or corporation published material which is potentially defamatory to another, to ask the published to be cognizant of the defamation laws of the place where the person resides and has a reputation is not to impose on the publisher an excessive burden.
- Alternatively, publishers are not obliged to publish on the internet at all if the potential reach is uncontrollable than the greater need to exercise care in publication.
§ Defamation is a tort concerned with damage to reputation and it is that damage which founds the cause of action.
o Thus, defamation is to be located at the place where the damage to reputation occurs.
o Ordinarily, that will be where the material which is alleged to be defamatory is available in comprehensive form, assuming that the person defamed has in that place a reputation which is thereby damaged.
o Merely creating and making the material available is insufficient; the material has to be accessed or communicated in a jurisdiction where the plaintiff has a reputation.