Always striving not to reinvent the wheel, I keep my eyes open for articles that do a good job of explaining basic legal concepts. In that regard, I receve many calls from prospective clients who don’t yet know the fundamentals of pursuing an online defamation claim. Many times, the callers want to sue Google since it is Google’s search engine that is revealing the sites that are posting the defamatory comments. That is not possible (although we have had pretty good luck getting Google to cooperate in taking down blogs on their own service and in one instance Google agreed to stop indexing a particular magazine, but that is rare).
The following article [reprinted with permission] provides a brief outline of how to attack online defamation. If you happen to be in New Jersey, contact the author for any action you need to pursue or defend. If you’re hear in California, or the action needs to be brought in California, then call Morris & Stone at (714) 954-0700.
Individuals now have the freedom to inexpensively and easily share everything from their art to their opinions online. However, the ease and anonymity associated with posting information on the Internet, comes at the cost of providing a perfect avenue for those seeking to abuse the system. So what happens when, for instance, an opinionated Internet rant goes too far? What if a video stream broadcast damages the reputation of someone featured in it? More importantly, do the victims of these scenarios have any rights under the law, or are they at the mercy of the author or poster?
Fortunately for victims, the law of defamation has been evolving in order to accommodate the legal ills associated with online publication. However, many people still fail to avail themselves of these legal protections because they are unclear about to which rights and remedies they are entitled. Therefore, individuals wishing to protect their rights and reputations must understand how the law of defamation applies to online activity. Defamation is defined as the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, or nation a negative image. The two subcategories of defamation are libel and slander. Libel requires that defamation be committed in a printed forum, while slander requires that the defaming words be spoken aloud.
Online publications are subject to the law of libel; online video posts are subject to the law of slander. If a party believes that defamation may have occurred because of the idea(s) presented in an online writing, he or she can successfully sue the author for libel by showing: that the defamatory statement was published, that it refers to the victim, that it is false, and that the victim’s reputation has been harmed by the writing. A party who feels victimized by video content can sue for slander under the same legal standard as is applied to libel. Victims of defamation can recover both actual damages and punitive damages.
Still, it is important to keep in mind the following caveats with regard to defamation law as it applies to the Internet. If the author of a defamatory statement is anonymous, a victim can request (through court proceedings) that the wrongdoer’s identity be revealed. Also, in the event that the victim of defamation is a public figure, actual malice must be proven (in addition to the aforementioned elements). Finally, although the authors of misinformation can be held liable for defamation, blog owners generally bear no responsibility for the comments posted to their site by third parties. Thus, it is evident that the law of defamation, although limited in its applicability to the Internet can still offer numerous protections and remedies against those wishing to cause undue damage to the reputations of others.
Melody Kulesza is an associate with Pepper Law Group, LLC, a law firm based in Somerville, New Jersey which provides strategic advice and sophisticated legal services to businesses, entrepreneurs, and entertainers in the areas of technology law, intellectual property, Internet law, entertainment law, business formation and general business counsel, and privacy and security law. More information on the firm can be found at http://www.informationlaw.com or by telephone at 908.698.0330.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/4043133