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Scientists presenting inconvenient facts or ideas that run counter to commercial interests may place themselves at risk of legal action. Frivolous or even vexatious lawsuits are a recognized tool for silencing criticism of corporate or individual commercial interests, particularly where the critics are private individuals or non-commercial entities. Termed SLAPPs, strategic lawsuits against public participation, are meritless defamation or damages actions designed to intimidate and punish scientists and others for speaking in opposition to commercial interests. Such cases are well known and appear frequently in some jurisdictions but are not regularly discussed in scientific circles. Evidence from the US suggests that even the threat of such litigation can stifle public comment and change scientific monitoring and reporting practices. Cases identified as SLAPPs mostly fail in court, but take the intended heavy toll on the defendant, draining energy, time, and money. In this chapter we examine SLAPPs in regard to scientists' involvement in public commentary and provision of scientific information to government and the wider public. Are evidence-based science and the right to speak out in the public interest under threat from SLAPPs? We highlight several known cases and discuss the implications for Australian scientists.

Anon. 2008a. Draft environmental assessment of the suitability of the import of the savannah cat (domestic cat x serval hybrid specimens) into Australia. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.
Anon. 2008b Scientists rally to keep out ‘supercats’ ABC News. URL http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-06-13/scientists-rally-tokeep-out-supercats/2469788 (accessed 30 September 2008).
Ashenmiller, B. and Norman, C.S. 2011. Measuring the impact of anti-SLAPP legislation on monitoring and enforcement. The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 11: 1.
Beder, S. 2002 Global Spin: The corporate assault on environmentalism. Revised edn. Green Books, Foxhole, UK.
Beeson, A. 2010. The Gunns 20 case: a brief history. National Environmental Law Review 18: 51-53.
Bunker, M.D. and Gates, P.H., Jr. 2002. Newer laws give media means to ‘SLAPP’ back in libel suits. Newspaper Research Journal 23: 18-31.
Carson, R. 1962 Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.
Costantini, E. and Nash, M.P. 1990-1991. SLAPP/SLAPPback: the misuse of libel law for political purposes and a countersuit response. Journal of Law and Politics 7: 417.
Dickman, C.R. 1994. Native mammals of western New South Wales: past neglect, future rehabilitation? Pp. 81-92 in Future of the Fauna of Western New South Wales, edited by D. Lunney, S. Hand, P. Reed and D. Butcher. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney.
Dickman, C.R. 1997. The nominations process of the Threatened Species Conservation Act. Pp. 19-25 in On the Brink: your bush, their habitat, our Act, edited by H. Webb. Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, Sydney.
Dickman, C.R., Pressey, R.L., Lim, L. and Parnaby, H.E. 1993. Mammals of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales. Biological Conservation 65: 219-248.
Donald, B. 2009 Current State of SLAPP Litigation in Australia: speech to Walkley Foundation for Journalism, 10th National Public Affairs Convention (18-19 May 2009). Available online at http://www.sourcewatch.org/images/2/28/SLAPP_law_fin.pdf.
Gray, T. and Martin, B. 2006. Defamation and the art of backfire. Deakin Law Review 11: 115-136.
Grigg, G. 1987. Kangaroos-a better economic base for our marginal grazing lands? Australian Zoologist 24: 73-80.
Hurley, T.M. and Shogren, J.F. 1997. Environmental conflicts and the SLAPP. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 33: 253-273.
Hutton, D. and Connors, L. 1999 A History of the Australian Environment Movement. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Kenyon, A.T. 2004 Lange and Reynolds qualified privilege: Australian and English defamation law and practice. Melbourne University Law Review 28: 406-437.
Lane, T. 2000. A SLAPP in time. Index on Censorship 29: 126-129.
Lear, L. 1997 Rachel Carson: witness for nature. Henry Holt, New York.
Lidsky, L.B. 2000. Silencing John Doe: defamation & discourse in cyberspace. Duke Law Journal 49: 855-946.
Lines, W. J. 2006 Patriots: defending Australia's natural heritage. University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.
Lunney, D. and Grigg, G. (eds). 1988. Kangaroo harvesting and the conservation of arid and semi-arid lands. Australian Zoologist 24: 121-193.
Martin, B. 1988. The issue of intellectual suppression. Philosophy and Social Action 14: 3-13.
Moore, K.D. and Sideris, L.H. 2008 Rachel Carson: legacy and challenge. SUNY Press, Albany, New York.
Morris, D. 1999 McLibel: Do-It-Yourself JUSTICE. McSpotlight. URL http://www.mcspotlight.org/media/press/msc_diyjustice.html (accessed 22 April 2012).
Oliver, W.R. 2011. The effect of threat of litigation on forensic pathologist diagnostic decision making. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 32: 383-386.
O'Neill, J.J. 2011. The Citizen Participation Act of 2009: Federal legislation as an effective defense against SLAPPs. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 38: 477-507, 212-213.
Ogle, G. 2010. Anti-SLAPP law reform in Australia. Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 19: 35-44.
Pring, G. and Canan, P. 1996 SLAPPs: Getting sued for speaking out. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
Pring, G.W. 1989. SLAPPs: Strategic lawsuits against public participation. Pace Environmental Law Review 7: 3-19.
Rasmussen, K. 2011. SLAPP stick: Fighting frivolous lawsuits against journalists. News Media and the Law 35: S1-S16.
Sullum, J. 2009. SLAPP silly. Reason 40: 12-13.
Walters, B. 2003 Slapping on the Writs: Defamation, developers and community activism. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
White, R. 2005. Stifling environmental dissent: On SLAPPs and Gunns. Alternative Law Journal 30: 268-273.
Wilson, P.D. and Shaw, N.C. 2011. Robber barons, back-stabbers and extortionists: how far does anti-SLAPP protection go? The Urban Lawyer 43: 745-756.
Wyrwich, T. 2011. A cure for a “public concern”: Washington's new anti-SLAPP law. Washington Law Review 86: 663-693.
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References

Anon. 2008a. Draft environmental assessment of the suitability of the import of the savannah cat (domestic cat x serval hybrid specimens) into Australia. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.
Anon. 2008b Scientists rally to keep out ‘supercats’ ABC News. URL http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-06-13/scientists-rally-tokeep-out-supercats/2469788 (accessed 30 September 2008).
Ashenmiller, B. and Norman, C.S. 2011. Measuring the impact of anti-SLAPP legislation on monitoring and enforcement. The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy 11: 1.
Beder, S. 2002 Global Spin: The corporate assault on environmentalism. Revised edn. Green Books, Foxhole, UK.
Beeson, A. 2010. The Gunns 20 case: a brief history. National Environmental Law Review 18: 51-53.
Bunker, M.D. and Gates, P.H., Jr. 2002. Newer laws give media means to ‘SLAPP’ back in libel suits. Newspaper Research Journal 23: 18-31.
Carson, R. 1962 Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.
Costantini, E. and Nash, M.P. 1990-1991. SLAPP/SLAPPback: the misuse of libel law for political purposes and a countersuit response. Journal of Law and Politics 7: 417.
Dickman, C.R. 1994. Native mammals of western New South Wales: past neglect, future rehabilitation? Pp. 81-92 in Future of the Fauna of Western New South Wales, edited by D. Lunney, S. Hand, P. Reed and D. Butcher. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Sydney.
Dickman, C.R. 1997. The nominations process of the Threatened Species Conservation Act. Pp. 19-25 in On the Brink: your bush, their habitat, our Act, edited by H. Webb. Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, Sydney.
Dickman, C.R., Pressey, R.L., Lim, L. and Parnaby, H.E. 1993. Mammals of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales. Biological Conservation 65: 219-248.
Donald, B. 2009 Current State of SLAPP Litigation in Australia: speech to Walkley Foundation for Journalism, 10th National Public Affairs Convention (18-19 May 2009). Available online at http://www.sourcewatch.org/images/2/28/SLAPP_law_fin.pdf.
Gray, T. and Martin, B. 2006. Defamation and the art of backfire. Deakin Law Review 11: 115-136.
Grigg, G. 1987. Kangaroos-a better economic base for our marginal grazing lands? Australian Zoologist 24: 73-80.
Hurley, T.M. and Shogren, J.F. 1997. Environmental conflicts and the SLAPP. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 33: 253-273.
Hutton, D. and Connors, L. 1999 A History of the Australian Environment Movement. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Kenyon, A.T. 2004 Lange and Reynolds qualified privilege: Australian and English defamation law and practice. Melbourne University Law Review 28: 406-437.
Lane, T. 2000. A SLAPP in time. Index on Censorship 29: 126-129.
Lear, L. 1997 Rachel Carson: witness for nature. Henry Holt, New York.
Lidsky, L.B. 2000. Silencing John Doe: defamation & discourse in cyberspace. Duke Law Journal 49: 855-946.
Lines, W. J. 2006 Patriots: defending Australia's natural heritage. University of Queensland Press, Brisbane.
Lunney, D. and Grigg, G. (eds). 1988. Kangaroo harvesting and the conservation of arid and semi-arid lands. Australian Zoologist 24: 121-193.
Martin, B. 1988. The issue of intellectual suppression. Philosophy and Social Action 14: 3-13.
Moore, K.D. and Sideris, L.H. 2008 Rachel Carson: legacy and challenge. SUNY Press, Albany, New York.
Morris, D. 1999 McLibel: Do-It-Yourself JUSTICE. McSpotlight. URL http://www.mcspotlight.org/media/press/msc_diyjustice.html (accessed 22 April 2012).
Oliver, W.R. 2011. The effect of threat of litigation on forensic pathologist diagnostic decision making. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 32: 383-386.
O'Neill, J.J. 2011. The Citizen Participation Act of 2009: Federal legislation as an effective defense against SLAPPs. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review 38: 477-507, 212-213.
Ogle, G. 2010. Anti-SLAPP law reform in Australia. Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 19: 35-44.
Pring, G. and Canan, P. 1996 SLAPPs: Getting sued for speaking out. Temple University Press, Philadelphia.
Pring, G.W. 1989. SLAPPs: Strategic lawsuits against public participation. Pace Environmental Law Review 7: 3-19.
Rasmussen, K. 2011. SLAPP stick: Fighting frivolous lawsuits against journalists. News Media and the Law 35: S1-S16.
Sullum, J. 2009. SLAPP silly. Reason 40: 12-13.
Walters, B. 2003 Slapping on the Writs: Defamation, developers and community activism. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
White, R. 2005. Stifling environmental dissent: On SLAPPs and Gunns. Alternative Law Journal 30: 268-273.
Wilson, P.D. and Shaw, N.C. 2011. Robber barons, back-stabbers and extortionists: how far does anti-SLAPP protection go? The Urban Lawyer 43: 745-756.
Wyrwich, T. 2011. A cure for a “public concern”: Washington's new anti-SLAPP law. Washington Law Review 86: 663-693.
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