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B I L L
An Act to amend the law of defamation and to amend the law of limitation with respect to actions for defamation and malicious falsehood.
Responsibility for publication
1.--(1) In defamation proceedings a person has a defence if he shows that --
(a) he was not the author, editor or publisher,
(b) he took reasonable care in relation to the publication of the statement complained of, and
(c) he did not know, and had no reason to believe, that what he did caused or contributed to the publication of a defamatory statement.
(2) For this purpose 'author', 'editor' and 'publisher' have the following meanings, subject to subsection (3)--
'author' means the originator of the statement, but does not include a person who did not intend that his statement be published at all;
'editor' means a person having editorial or equivalent responsibility for the content of the statement or the decision to publish it; and
'publisher' means a commercial publisher, that is, a person whose business is issuing material to the public, or a section of the public, who publishes the statement in the course of that business.
(3) A person shall not be considered the author, editor or publisher of a statement if he is
(a) only involved in printing, producing, distributing or selling printed material containing the statement:
(b) only involved in processing, making copies of, distributing, exhibiting or selling a film or sound recording (as defined in Part I of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (1988 c. 48)) containing the statement;
(c) only involved in processing, making copies of, distributing or selling any electronic medium in or on which the statement is recorded, or in operating any equipment by means of which the statement is retrieved, copied or distributed;
(d) the broadcaster of a live programme containing the statement where the broadcaster has no effective control over the maker of the statement;
(e) the operator of a communications system by means of which a defamatory statement is transmitted, or made available, by a person over whom he has no effective control.
(4) Employees or agents of an author, editor or publisher are in the same position as their employer or principal to the extent that they are responsible for the content of the statement or the decision to publish it.
(5) In determining for the purposes of this section whether a person took reasonable care, or had reason to believe that what he did caused or contributed to the publication of a defamatory statement, regard shall be had to—
(a) the extent of his responsibility for the content of the statement or the decision to publish it,
(b) the nature or circumstances of the publication, and
(c) the previous conduct or character of the author, editor or publisher.
(6) This section does not apply to any cause of action which arose before the section came into force.