Support For The Speech Act

By Association of American Publishers - Letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee | by Allan R. Adler, Vice President, Government and Legal Affairs
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 @ 5:41PM

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The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy                              The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Chairman                                                                     Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary                                     Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate                                                United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                            Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman and Senator Sessions:

On behalf of the more than 300 U.S. publishing houses that comprise the Association of American Publishers (AAP), we are writing to express our strong support for the aptly named “SPEECH Act” introduced in the Senate today. We are pleased to see such a strong legislative response to a problem that represents a serious threat to free speech for American authors and publishers. The need to protect Americans from foreign libel judgments that undermine First Amendment rights has become increasingly evident. Your leadership has brought that protection one step closer to reality.

As we have said in the past to both houses of Congress, the cynical exploitation of plaintiff-friendly foreign libel laws as a weapon to silence American authors and prevent them from speaking out on issues of public concern represents a serious threat not only to AAP’s members but to all Americans. These foreign libel judgments not only deprive American authors and publishers of their right to speak, they deprive our citizenry of their right to be informed.

We are particularly gratified that, in addition to precluding recognition and enforcement of foreign libel judgments that do not pass First Amendment muster, the SPEECH Act would allow an American author or publisher to seek declaratory relief from a federal court even in the absence of an attempt to enforce the foreign judgment in the United States. This is a much-needed remedy. As we have learned through painful experience, the pernicious effect of a foreign defamation judgment is pervasive even if the foreign plaintiff does not move to enforce the judgment but just sits back and allows it to exert its chilling effect in perpetuity.

We hope the Senate will move quickly on this important legislation. We pledge our support and any assistance we can offer to help effect passage of the SPEECH Act.

Sincerely,

Allan R. Adler, Vice President, Government and Legal Affairs

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Categories: Free Speech & Libel Tourism, Supporting Free Speech