oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - The lex cornelia de iniuriis and “hyperlinks” in Roman law

Volume 24 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



The development of modern technology has resulted in some interesting new legal problems, such as whether using a hyperlink on a website to libellous material amounts to punishable defamatory libel. This article asks the question if there are analogous cases and rules to be found in the Roman law of insult to these novel forms of indirect or veiled modes of defamatory libel. It appears that specifically indirect forms of insult were not punished by means of the private delict iniuria but rather by the republican crimen formulated in the lex Cornelia de iniuriis. A senatus consultum in the early principate then either enhanced the scope of the lex Cornelia, or effected the application of the lex Iulia de maiestate to these indirect modes of insult. The article contends that the ground for the senatus consultum may tell us something about the division between “public” and “private” in Roman law, and perhaps even Roman society in general.

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