In another twist to the debate over libel law on the internet, a US judge has ruled that newspapers cannot be sued in other states over stories on their websites.
Two Connecticut newspapers, the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Advocate, cannot be sued for libel in Virginia for stories posted on their sites, following a ruling by the fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals.
It said that judges in Virginia lacked the authority.
Last week it was feared that an Australian court ruling could enable people to sue in Australia for defamation on a website wherever it was based.
According to Bloomberg News, a prison warden in a US case claimed that he had been defamed by articles posted on the web by the two Connecticut newspapers.
But the Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's ruling that the warden could sue in his home state because that is where he claimed that his reputation was damaged.
The decision upheld the principle that someone cannot be sued in a given place if there is no real expectation that they would be subject to the laws of that place, according to a lawyer for one of the papers.
The warden can no longer sue in Connecticut as the Statute of limitations for the case has passed.
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