If only Canada were to have such clear laws. Here, it is critical for operators of online platforms to understand that this issue remains largely unlegislated and left to the common law; which holds that a person will not be responsible, as a publisher, if the person’s sole participation in the publication of the defamatory material is merely their “innocent” involvement in the purely administrative or mechanical phases of publication.
The B.C. Court of Appeal’s recent decision in Northwest Organics, Limited Partnership v. Fandrich demonstrates the importance of keeping things in context when determining whether an allegedly defamatory statement has a defamatory meaning.
In Crookes v. Newman, Mr. Crookes sued Mr. Newman for online defamation because of hyperlinks that Mr. Newman had placed in articles he published online. The hyperlinks, when clicked, took the readers to websites that contained statements that Mr. Crookes claimed were defamatory of him. Mr. Crookes lost at trial and on appeal and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.