New EU Libel Law Proposal Draws Publishers' Protests

Are you shopping for the best country in which to sue for libel in print?

In public hearings in Brussels last week, the European Association of Magazine Publishers and the British Periodical Publishers Association protested a European Commission proposal, known as Rome II, that would allow libel plaintiffs to choose the laws of their country of residence rather than the laws of the publication’s country. Last year, the European Publishers Council, the UK’s Advertising Association, and the American Media Law Center (PDF) had protested the EC proposal.

Although the Internet publishing community was rocked last month by an Australian decision that allowed a plaintiff to sue in his home country rather than the country of the publication, the Rome II proposal only pertains to print publications because the EC in 2000 adopted a law, called the e-commerce directive, which says that the laws of the country where the website is situated should apply in disputes involving online marketing, publishing, and sales.