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Retailers could lose a little slice of their newspaper revenue if punitive British libel laws aren’t reformed.
A recent memorandum submitted to a Commons select committee described how leading US newspaper publishers are actively considering abandoning the supply of copies of their titles to the UK for fear of triggering a libel claim – the issue is that comments that are protected under the freedom of speech in the US constitution are actionable in London courts once published here, regardless of how small the readership.
While foreign titles may not make up a vast number of sales for the average retailer, some in tourist areas or of foreign communities enjoy the moderate sales boost from titles such as the New York Times. Furthermore, America halting its supply could also trigger similar reactions from others. This would include Polish publishers, who have increased their titles’ prominence on UK newsstands to match the demand from a growing Polish population.
However, a campaign launched this week by two bodies, which promote free speech and the human rights of journalists, aims to reform libel law. It will hopefully succeed in keeping foreign titles available in the UK – and making money in your shops.
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