The American Civil Liberties Union may not often see eye to eye with the American Center for Democracy, a research group with neoconservative credentials. But the two organizations are united on at least one thing: their distaste for British libel laws, which they say are being exploited to suppress free speech in Britain and beyond.

British courts have always been friendlier to libel claimants than their American counterparts. Until recently that did not matter much to American authors or publishers. But now the Internet makes anything published in the United States almost immediately available in Britain, too.

Some free-speech advocates in the United States say that so-called libel tourists — people with little connection to Britain — are using the global-distribution argument to justify suing for libel there.

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