From Iceland — Journalist Sentenced To Pay Fine For Quoting Public Records

Journalist Sentenced To Pay Fine For Quoting Public Records

Published October 14, 2011

A journalist for DV was found guilty of defamation of character for publishing publicly available information on one of the subjects of an article.
Jón Bjarki Magnússon, the journalist in question, wrote about Margrét Lilja Guðmundsdóttir’s and her husband’s repeated spats with their neighbours in Aratún, in September of last year. In the course of his research on the matter, he uncovered publicly available court documents pertaining to Margrét Lilja which Jón Bjarki felt were relevant to the story, as there was similar subject matter involved.
In turn, Margrét sued Jón for defamation of character and yesterday, Reykjavík District Court agreed. In justifying their decision, the court said it had been “distasteful” to bring up a court case from 1989 in the context of this article.
Jón will have to pay Margrét 700,000 ISK, in addition to 750,000 ISK in legal costs, putting the damages at 1.45 million ISK. Furthermore, the publicly available information which he re-printed will be considered “dauð og ómerk”; that is, stricken from the record and prohibited from re-publishing. The court records themselves, however, will remain accessible to anyone who wants to read them.

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