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Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Act 2021

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3Restriction on proceedings against secondary publishersS

This section has no associated Explanatory Notes

(1)Except as may be provided for under section 4, a right to bring defamation proceedings in respect of a defamatory statement does not accrue against a person unless the person is—

(a)the author, editor or publisher of the statement, or

(b)both—

(i)an employee or agent of such a person, and

(ii)responsible for the statement's content or the decision to publish it.

(2)In this section, subject to subsections (3) to (5)—

  • author” means the person from whom the statement originated, but does not include a person who did not intend the statement to be published,

  • editor” means a person with editorial or equivalent responsibility for the content of the statement or the decision to publish it,

  • publisher” means a commercial publisher (that is to say, a person whose business is issuing material to the public or to a section of the public) who issues material containing the statement in the course of that business.

(3)Where a statement is in electronic form, a person is not to be considered the editor of the statement or, in the case of an employee or agent of such a person, responsible for its content or the decision to publish it, if—

(a)the person's involvement with the statement is only—

(i)publishing the same statement or providing a means to access the statement (for example a hyperlink) in a manner which does not alter the statement, or

(ii)marking the person's interest in, approval of or disapproval of the statement in a manner which does not alter the statement (typically by means of a symbol), and

(b)that involvement does not materially increase the harm caused by the publication of the statement.

(4)A person is not to be considered the author, editor or publisher of a statement or, in the case of an employee or agent of such a person, responsible for its content or the decision to publish it, if the person's involvement with the statement is only—

(a)printing, producing, distributing or selling printed material containing the statement,

(b)processing, making copies of, distributing, exhibiting or selling a film or sound recording (as defined in Part 1 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988) containing the statement,

(c)processing, making copies of, distributing or selling any electronic medium in or on which the statement is recorded,

(d)operating or providing any equipment, system or service by means of which the statement is retrieved, copied, distributed or made available in electronic form,

(e)broadcasting a live programme containing the statement in circumstances in which the person has no effective control over the maker of the statement,

(f)operating or providing access to a communications system by means of which another person over whom the person has no effective control transmits the statement or makes it available,

(g)moderating the statement (for example, by removing obscene language or correcting typographical errors without altering the substance of the statement).

(5)Where a person does not fall within subsection (3) (a) or (4) (a) to (g), the court may have regard to those paragraphs by way of analogy in determining whether a person is the author, editor or publisher of a statement (or, in the case of an employee or agent of such a person, responsible for its content or the decision to publish it).

(6)The Scottish Ministers may by regulations modify subsection (3) or (4) to add, amend or remove activities or methods of disseminating or processing material.

(7)Regulations under subsection (6)—

(a)may be made only where the Scottish Ministers consider it appropriate to take account of—

(i)technological developments (including obsolescence) relating to the dissemination or processing of material, or

(ii)changes in how material is disseminated or processed as a result of such developments, and

(b)are subject to the affirmative procedure.

(8)Before laying a draft of a Scottish statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (6), the Scottish Ministers must consult such persons as they consider appropriate.

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