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24. The adoption of a single publication rule would also impact on material published offline as, if an action had already been brought in relation to material published online, it may prevent further action being brought in relation to hard copy material. It would not appear appropriate for any change to apply only to online archives, as this could cause confusion and create unfairness, as the rights of claimants and defendants would differ according to the means by which the defamatory material was accessed. Any changes made to the law purely to take account of the issues arising from online archives could have undesirable consequences and affect areas of the law that currently operate without problems. The Government therefore believes that any change to the law to introduce a single publication rule would need to apply to all defamation proceedings.

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