The New York Court of Appeals has recently ruled that a libeler is not responsible for additional damages caused by a later, unforeseen republication of the libelous statements. Geraci v. Probst, — N.Y.S.2d –, 2010 NY Slip Op 07248 (Oct. 14, 2010). This decision, dealing with newspaper publications, calls into question the court’s opinion of “foreseeability” with regard to internet republication.
The very nature of the internet virtually guarantees that any published statement would find itself propagated to new pages, search engine cache, blogs, social applications like Twitter, etc… Thus, would any internet defamation necessarily make defendant liable for additional damages caused by the near-automatic republication of the defamatory statements?
In Geraci, the court cites the Second Restatement of Torts, finding that additional liability for republication would only be imposed “if, but only if, … the repetition was reasonably expected.” Considering the auto-propagating nature of the internet, it is very likely that this court would rule for additional damages in the case of internet defamation.
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