The speed of the Internet is increasingly taken for granted. We are accustomed to finding what we want in a fraction of a second. We demand faster connection speeds, faster search speeds, faster data collection … sometimes life seems to go by in a blur. Either corporations or individuals can spread their views almost instantly around the globe.
Does no one slow down anymore? The answer is yes, if the courts are involved.
The case of Farallon Mining vs Robert Butler was first filed in October 2004. The plaintiffs alleged that Butler posted various defamatory statements on a website. Now 5-1/2 years later, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ruled in favour of the company, its chairman Ronald Thiessen and Hunter Dickinson Inc. The court awarded general and punitive damages in the amount of $425,000. The court also ordered a permanent injunction against any further defamatory statements Butler might publish.
Let this be a cautionary tale to would-be writers, posters and bloggers. What you put on the Internet will be read. Word will get back to the subjects of your writing or ranting. Web crawlers are easily programmed to find and forward any mention of specified names or keywords. Make sure what you write is backed up by the facts. Slanderous and libellous remarks made on the Internet will not escape prosecution.
The words of Farallon president and CEO Dick Whittington sum up the lesson. “This is amongst the highest awards of its kind in Canada and will hopefully restrain others from issuing unfounded defamatory statements … I am very pleased that the court has ruled so convincingly in our favour. We stated we would bring those involved to justice and while it has taken longer than anticipated, in the end, justice has prevailed.”