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Illinois high court upholds 'fair report' privilege in defamation lawsuit

[JURIST] The Illinois Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday upheld [opinion text] the "fair report" privilege [Communicator backgrounder], a legal protection that allows journalists to report on legal allegations made during official proceedings, even if the allegations are false. Solaia Technology sued Specialty Publishing [corporate websites] for defamation after Specialty's subsidiary Start Magazine (now Start-it Magazine) [media website] ran an article on a patent infringement lawsuit against Solaia, alleging that Start made false and misleading statements. Specialty Publishing, joined by the Illinois Press Association [advocacy website], the Chicago Tribune [media website] and other news organizations, appealed a lower court ruling [text] allowing Start to be sued.

Justice Thomas Fitzgerald determined that journalists need to be free to report on legal allegations and that they cannot be expected "to possess the same skills as lawyers" to understand the complexities of federal antitrust law. The Court did, however, remand the case to the trial court on other defamation claims. AP has more. Start-it Magazine has background on the case.

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