Washington, DC, May 1, 2008:
The U.S. publishing industry warmly welcomed the signing of a bill in New York that will make it harder for “libel tourists” to threaten authors and publishers with foreign libel suits. The new law, the “Libel Terrorism Protection Act,” which was signed yesterday by Governor David Paterson, 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.
Pat Schroeder, President and CEO of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), has written to Governor Paterson congratulating him on the signing of the bill, and expressing the thanks of the Associationﾒs members, many of whom are located in New York. “The enactment of this important legislation sends a strong message that New York is committed to protecting the free speech rights of its citizens,” the letter stated. Mrs. Schroeder expressed the hope that “the new Libel Terrorism Protection Act will serve as a model and that other states will follow New York’s lead.” AAP lobbied for passage of the Libel Terrorism Protection Act, and has provided friend-of-the-court support for 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. was the inspiration behind its introduction and passage.
Judith Platt, who directs AAP’s Freedom to Read Program, said: “We hope that enactment of the new law means that Dr. Ehrenfeld will now have another, more successful, day in court.” The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP’s approximately 300 members include most of the major commercial book publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and non-profit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies. AAP members publish hardcover and paperback books in every field, educational materials for the elementary, secondary, post-secondary and professional markets, scholarly journals, computer software and electronic products and services. The Association represents an industry whose very existence depends upon the free exercise of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.