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At 50, landmark libel case relevant in digital age

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Singer Courtney Love hadn't been born and tweeting was just for birds when The New York Times won a landmark libel case at the Supreme Court.

But Love is just the latest person to lean on that 50-year-old ruling _ and those that followed and expanded it. A California jury decided recently she shouldn't have to pay $8 million for a troublesome tweet about her former lawyer.

New York Times v. Sullivan stemmed from Alabama officials' efforts to hamper coverage of civil rights protests.

The decision made it hard for public officials to win lawsuits and large awards over published false statements that damaged their reputations.

Newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations were the primary means of publishing then. But the case applies equally now to Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

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