Defamation Laws In Iceland

Under Chapter XXV (Defamations and Offenses against the Inviolability of Private Life) of the Icelandic Penal Code, defamation constitutes a criminal act. Penalty shall constitute imprisonment from one (1) year up to two (2) years depending on the nature of the law violated. As a general rule, the criminal action for libel shall prescribe in five (5) years under Article 81 (2) of the Icelandic Penal Code.

The claimant may also file a civil action against the defendant under Article 26 of the Icelandic Torts and Damages Act.

Under the Right of Publication Act, the law contains the order of liability as follows:

1)The author bears the responsibility if mentioned by name;
2)The publisher or the editor bears the responsibility if author is not mentioned by name;
3)The vendor or distributor bears the responsibility if no one above can be reached;
4)The typographer bears the responsibility if no one above can be reached.

However, it is worth mentioning that as of June 16, 2010 the Icelandic Parliament, as endorsed by the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, passed a proposal for a parliamentary resolution tasking the government to introduce a new legislative regime to protect and strengthen modern freedom of expression. The proposal was passed by votes from parliament members of all parties.

As Iceland aims to become a legal safe haven for journalists, the Minister of Education, Science and Culture has given a report on January 27, 2011 for the implementation of the parliamentary resolution.