28 U.S. Code § 4101 - Definitions
DefinitionsIn this chapter:
The term “defamation” means any action or other proceeding for defamation, libel, slander, or similar claim alleging that forms of speech are false, have caused damage to reputation or emotional distress, have presented any person in a false light, or have resulted in criticism, dishonor, or condemnation of any person.
The term “foreign court” means a court, administrative body, or other tribunal of a foreign country.
The term “foreign judgment” means a final judgment rendered by a foreign court.
The term “State” means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States.
(6)United states person.—The term “United States person” means—
an alien lawfully residing in the United States at the time that the speech that is the subject of the foreign defamation action was researched, prepared, or disseminated; or
“Congress finds the following:
The freedom of speech and the press is enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution, and is necessary to promote the vigorous dialogue necessary to shape public policy in a representative democracy.
Some persons are obstructing the free expression rights of United States authors and publishers, and in turn chilling the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States interest of the citizenry in receiving information on matters of importance, by seeking out foreign jurisdictions that do not provide the full extent of free-speech protections to authors and publishers that are available in the United States, and suing a United States author or publisher in that foreign jurisdiction.
These foreign defamation lawsuits not only suppress the free speech rights of the defendants to the suit, but inhibit other written speech that might otherwise have been written or published but for the fear of a foreign lawsuit.
The threat of the libel laws of some foreign countries is so dramatic that the United Nations Human Rights Committee examined the issue and indicated that in some instances the law of libel has served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work. The advent of the internet and the international distribution of foreign media also create the danger that one country’s unduly restrictive libel law will affect freedom of expression worldwide on matters of valid public interest.
Governments and courts of foreign countries scattered around the world have failed to curtail this practice of permitting libel lawsuits against United States persons within their courts, and foreign libel judgments inconsistent with United States first amendment protections are increasingly common.”
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