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What Is Libel Tourism?
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With attorney David Korzenik


If you haven’t heard of the heinous phenomenon known as “libel tourism,” I urge you to listen to this show. According to Judith Platt at the Association of American Publishers, libel tourism “is the cynical practice whereby wealthy foreigners sue American writers and publishers in foreign courts, notably in the United Kingdom, where libel laws are notoriously skewed in favor of the plaintiff and no First Amendment protections are in place. These suits are brought despite the fact that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant resides in England, and often in the absence of any English publication of the work in question.”

The Association of American Publishers is currently involved in a lawsuit brought by U.S. author Rachel Ehrenfeld, who is attempting to get a federal court in New York to declare such a libel judgment against her unenforceable in the US.

In 2004, billionaire Saudi Khalid bin Mahfouz fileda a UK suit against Ehrenfeld, author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It. The 2003 title claims that Mr. bin Mahfouz has financed Osama bin Laden and other terrorists. In 2005, Mr. bin Mahfouz won a default judgment that ordered Ehrenfeld to apologize, destroy all copies of the book, and pay him about $230,000 in damages despite the fact that the book had never been published or sold in Britain. Rather about 20 people had ordered it online and had it shipped to the UK.

David S. Korzenik, Esq., a partner at Miller Korzenik Sommers LLP, specializes in media and First Amendment law as well as intellectual property. The firm defends book, magazine, and online publishers; broadcasters; news organizations; and human rights groups against claims such as libel, privacy, newsgathering torts, copyright, and so on.

David is an active member of the Media Law Resource Center, The Copyright Society, and the Legal Affairs Committee of the Magazine Publishers of America.

He is adjunct professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law where he has taught for the past 18 years. He has written and lectured on the subjects of defamation law, international media liability, copyright law, and confidential sources, and he has been a commentator for Court TV on a variety of cases involving copyright, defamation, and publishing.

David has degrees from Harvard University, Columbia University, and Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

Please join us for this important show in which David and host Paula B. discuss:

  • What libel tourism is and how it got started
  • How plaintiffs are able to sue American defendants in foreign courts
  • How laws relating to free speech differ in the U.S. and the UK
  • What some high-profile cases are
  • How libel tourism is affecting publishers, authors, and journalists
  • How the House of Lords is making some changes in authors' and publishers' favor
  • Why bloggers and podcasters need to be aware of the phenomenon.

At the end of the show, Jeff DeRego joins us for another incisive commentary.

Interviewee: David Korzenik
Host: Paula B
Date: November 4, 2007
Running time:   01:51:09
File size:  41 megabytes
Rating: G