An Australian court has ruled that Dow Jones & Co can be sued under Australian law for defaming an Australian businessman in Barron’s, which is published on the Internet (and on dead trees, of course). Despite the fact Barron’s is a US publication, the Australian court has ruled that it is subject to Australian jurisdiction. Needless to say, for any Internet publisher, this is scary stuff. Australia, like many other countries, does not require the same high standard of proof for libel that we require in the United States. Someone like me could write something about an Australian and be sued in Australian courts. Needless to say, even that is relatively benign when you consider countries like Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, or North Korea. This is the dark side of publishing in a global medium, and the really disturbing thing is that there’s no way to clean it up. The only way to start is to get an international treaty ratified, and most countries in the world aren’t going to accept US libel laws (shame on them for it).