Aiming at the Wrong Target: The 'Audience Targeting' Test for Personal Jurisdiction in Internet Defamation Cases

Sarah Ludington

Campbell University Norman Andrian Wiggins School of Law; North Carolina Central University (NCCU)

September 23, 2012

73 Ohio State L.J. 541 (2012)

In Young v. New Haven Advocate, 315 F.3d 256 (4th Cir. 2002), the Fourth Circuit crafted a jurisdictional test for Internet defamation that requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant specifically targeted an audience in the forum state for the state to exercise jurisdiction. This test relies on the presumption that the Internet — which is accessible everywhere — is targeted nowhere; it strongly protects foreign libel defendants who have published on the Internet from being sued outside of their home states. Other courts, including the North Carolina Court of Appeals, have since adopted or applied the test. The jurisdictional safe harbor (ironically) provided by the veryn ubiquity of the Internet is no doubt welcomed by media defendants and frequent Internet publishers (e.g., bloggers) whose use of the Internet exposes them to potentially nationwide jurisdiction for defamation. But it may go too far in protecting libel defendants from facing the consequences of their false and injurious statements. For every libel defendant insulated from jurisdiction in a remote location, there is also a libel plaintiff who has potentially been denied an effective remedy in a convenient location. This article argues that the jurisdictional test created in Young is flawed and particularly should not be applied to libel defendants. It concludes with a simple suggestion: that the appropriate test for personal jurisdiction over libel defendants in cases of Internet defamation is the standard minimum contacts analysis.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

Keywords: personal jurisdiction, internet, defamation, Zippo, Fourth Circuit

Accepted Paper Series

Download This Paper

Date posted: September 23, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Ludington, Sarah, Aiming at the Wrong Target: The 'Audience Targeting' Test for Personal Jurisdiction in Internet Defamation Cases (September 23, 2012). 73 Ohio State L.J. 541 (2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2150940

Contact Information

Sarah Ludington (Contact Author)
Campbell University Norman Andrian Wiggins School of Law ( email )
United States
919-865-4678 (Phone)
North Carolina Central University (NCCU) ( email )
Durham, NC 27707
United States
919-530-6171 (Phone)
Feedback to SSRN

Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,111
Downloads: 106
Download Rank: 156,338

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo7 in 0.297 seconds