New York Approves Libel Tourism Bill

By Publishers Weekly | by Lynn Andriani
Thursday, May 1st, 2008 @ 5:32AM

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New York State Governor David Paterson signed a bill into law yesterday that will make it harder for “libel tourists” to threaten authors and publishers with foreign libel suits.

The Libel Terrorism Protection Act prohibits the enforcement of a foreign libel judgment unless a New York court determines that it satisfies the free speech and free press protections guaranteed by the First Amendment and the New York State Constitution. It also allows New York courts, under certain circumstances, to exercise jurisdiction over non-residents who obtain foreign libel judgments against New Yorkers.

AAP president and CEO Pat Schroeder congratulated Paterson and thanked the association’s members, many of whom are located in New York, in helping to get the bill passed: “The enactment of this important legislation sends a strong message that New York is committed to protecting the free speech rights of its citizens.” Schroeder said she hopes the law will push other states to follow New York’s lead.

One author who is happy with the passing of the law is Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, the New York-based author whose battle to have a British default libel judgment against her declared unenforceable in the U.S. inspired the law’s introduction and passage. Ehrenfeld acknowledged the hard work of everyone who worked on introducing the law, which she called “a wonderful precendent. Ehrenfeld said she fully intends to “go back to court and win the case” and hopes other American authors will continue to expose what needs to be exposed and that publishers will not be shy in publishing it.”


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