Interesting Net-related ruling last week from the New York State Court of Appeals (NY’s highest court).
The question before the court is whether an item on the Web is published when it’s first made available, or when it’s seen? The more aware of technology you are, the more subtle the question may become. Many sites — including this one — don’t create static web pages, but rather generate the content on demand. That means the page you see is different from the page that someone else might see, but that both of them are created especially for you and aren’t necessarily stored anywhere in that precise form.
So if I libel you on a dynamically created page that you don’t see for three years after the offending item is first available, when precisely have I libelled you? When you see it? Or when it was first see-able? It makes a difference because in New York, you have just 1 year after the libel to file suit.
Anyway, the AP reports that in New York, publication happens when an item is first posted:
The Court of Appeals said it made little sense to adopt Mr. Firth’s argument that a new publication took place ÷ and a new limitation period started running ÷ with every downloading of a document.
I’m not sure that’s right technologically, but it feels right on the merits.