Court: Kings County Supreme Court in the State of New York
Date Filed: Feb. 5, 2021
Background: In 2018, real estate titans Louis and Joel Kestenbaum, along with their company, Fortis Property Group, filed a defamation lawsuit against blogger Julie Globus, who, prior to the case, published her work anonymously on the website LostMessiah.
The Kestenbaums argue that two articles Globus published in 2016 include defamatory statements. However, the Kestenbaums did not file their defamation claims until 2018, failing to meet New York’s one-year statute of limitations for such claims.
To skirt the statute, the Kestenbaums’ lawsuit references a third article, published in 2017. The third article does not refer to the Kestenbaums at all in substance. The only mention of the family came in an automatically generated hyperlink to one of the previous stories in a section of the webpage called “Top Posts & Pages.” The Kestenbaums argue that the appearance of this hyperlink republished the earlier story, therefore extending the filing date for their defamation claims.
Our Position: The Kings County Supreme Court should reject the Kestenbaums’ republication theory, which a number of courts across the country have already rejected.
- Under the single-publication rule, which prevents every copy of a newspaper or every click on a website from giving rise to a separate cause of action, the Kestenbaums’ claims are time-barred.
- A republication rule that deters hyperlinking would deprive internet users and publishers of an essential tool for understanding information online.
Quote: “Courts across the country have held that hyperlinks, even when appearing in the body of an article, do not constitute republication. A hyperlink merely directs readers to the previous article; it does not restate any of that previous article’s claims. At the same time, journalists have found hyperlinks to be important tools for streamlining reporting, informing audiences, connecting to collaborators, and promoting transparency. A ruling that adopts Plaintiffs’ theory of republication would chill the use of hyperlinks, reducing the free flow of information online and undermining the internet’s potential for disseminating knowledge.”
Related: The Reporters Committee previously filed similar friend-of-the-court briefs in two other cases involving hyperlinking and the single-publication rule: Perlman v. Vox Media and Lokhova v. Halper. In both cases, Reporters Committee attorneys argued that hyperlinks do not constitute republication and that their use is critical for online journalism.