I found two interesting articles this weekend on the topic of libel online. The first is a post by Daniel Solove talking about the slow demise of privacy torts as well as libel and slander. The most interesting point to me was that the New York Times currently does not have any libel cases pending right now, whereas they used to have several at any given time.
Is Libel really going away? The next post made me think not. This one is a story of police officer is suing YouTube over parody videos of him. Apparently he was caught on video being particularly aggressive with a protester armed with bubbles. Yes, bubbles. He isn’t a public figure, but I don’t think any of the videos were doing anything beyond commenting on the reasonableness of his behavior.
I won’t comment on the merits of the case but I think its probably more representative of a growing type of libel case and why the lack of libel suits against the NYT probably doesn’t mean that libel is going away. With more people publishing there is more nasty stuff published, and probably more lawsuits. Professor Solove’s broader point was that we still should have access to justice for libel. I think we will, but the nature of the likely defendant is probably changing.