Should Online Defamation Be Criminalized?
58 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2007
In 1961 the drafters of the Model Penal Code decided that defamation should not be criminalized, even though libel was a common law crime. They based their decision on two assumptions: One was that defamation does not inflict "harm" of a severity comparable to rape or murder; the other was that while defamation concededly inflicts a lesser "harm," the likelihood of its being inflicted was too slight to justify the imposition of criminal sanctions. This article argues that our increasing use of cyberspace makes the second assumption increasingly problematic, and therefore requires that we revisit the need to criminalize online defamation.
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