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  • Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations, Quotations, Internet

    Subject: Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations,
    Quotations, Internet "Publication," Regular Publication Information
    Needed and Starting Discussion Thread Sought

    My new book (currently a near final draft) makes as many as 100
    criminal allegations against different people or parties. So my goal
    of publishing it may have legal complications or result in lawsuits
    against me.

    Do libel or slander laws apply to my allegations against people or
    quotations that I say they made in a draft copy of my book manuscript
    if I deliberately make either the draft or final manuscript available
    for download on a website, or if I deliberately post it to Usenet, or
    if I deliberately make available for Napster-style file sharing? One
    person told me that these laws do not apply! This person said they
    only apply if the manuscript is published. So I am confused. Maybe
    instead of publishing my book, I should simply "self-publish" on the
    internet and then be free of legal consequences.

    Can somebody summaries Internet Self-publication versus regular
    publication legal issues?

    I found ALL of the below information on the internet.
    Please correct, comment, or reference better information or mistakes
    in the below.

    Libel and slander, Legal Terms And Concepts



    libel and slander, in law, types of defamation. In common law, written
    defamation was libel and spoken defamation was slander. Today,
    however, there are no such clear definitions. Permanent forms of
    defamation, such as the written or pictorial, are usually called
    libel, while the spoken or gestured forms are called slander.

    The term libel is also often used if a wide audience for the
    defamation is possible. Courts have split over which category radio
    and television are in; today's statutes generally categorize
    defamation occurring in those media as slander. The offenses are alike
    in several respects. The defamation : essentially exposure to hatred,
    contempt, ridicule, or pecuniary loss : must directly affect the
    reputation of a living person. It must be published, i.e., revealed to
    someone besides the subject of the attack. It is no defense that the
    defendant merely repeated but did not originate the defamation.

    The plaintiff is required to prove the colloquium (circumstances of
    utterance showing that the statement was directed against him or her
    specifically) and, when necessary, the innuendo (the factors making an
    apparently innocent statement defamatory). Generally, truth is an
    absolute defense in a suit for defamation. A false defamatory
    statement may be privileged if the actor was a legislator, executive
    officer, or speaking in a court proceeding. The requirement of
    colloquium makes unactionable defamation of a large group, e.g., a
    racial or professional group.

    Whether the charge is libel or slander is important. Most libels are
    deemed injurious and give immediate ground for suit. However, only
    certain types of statements are slanderous per se and do not require
    proof of pecuniary damages; these include imputation of crime, of
    loathsome disease, or of professional or occupational incapacity. In
    other cases, there may not be any recovery unless the pecuniary loss
    caused by the injury is proved. The award to the successful plaintiff
    in a suit for defamation will usually include punitive, as well as
    compensatory, damages if the defendant willfully lied or published the
    defamation repeatedly.

    In New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court
    provided a significant expansion of the protection of the press from
    libel actions. Stemming from a case in which an elected official in
    Montgomery, Ala., complained of defamation by civil-rights activists,
    the court ruled that to protect the free flow of speech and opinions,
    public officials could only collect damages for libel if falsehoods
    were made with "reckless disregard" for the truth. This ruling has
    since been extended to any celebrity before the public.

    The Sullivan ruling shifted the burden of proof in many libel cases
    from the defendant to the plaintiff, who must now prove the falsehood
    was issued with actual malice, that is, with deliberate knowledge that
    the statement was both incorrect and defamatory. The ruling was a
    victory for the media, but left the plaintiff with the difficult task
    of obtaining the sources for the allegedly libelous information :
    sources that reporters often hold confidential. In most cases, the
    court requires the plaintiff to show that a reasonable effort has been
    made to obtain the information elsewhere before it requires the
    reporter to divulge any sources.

    In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed that only factual
    misrepresentation is to be considered libel or slander, not expression
    of opinion. It has also ruled that libel suits may be filed across
    state lines, not only in the state where the plaintiff lives. Libel
    suits apply not only to the media and public personalities but also to
    businesses, which account for approximately 70% of all suits. In
    recent years, producers of foods and other goods have succeeded in
    urging more than a dozen states to pass laws allowing them to sue
    critics of the safety or other aspects of their products; experts
    predict such laws will be overturned, but they have in the meantime
    had a "chilling" effect on public discussion in some cases.





    Bibliography :
    See N. L. Rosenberg, Protecting the Best Men: An Interpretive History
    of the Law of Libel (1986); R. A. Smolla, Suing the Press (1986); A.
    Lewis, Make No Law: The Sullivan Law and the First Amendment (1991).

  • #2
    Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations, Quotations, Internet

    On 23 Oct 2004 11:47:15 -0700, [email protected] (Ethan
    Lourdes) wrote:
    Subject: Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations,Quotations, Internet "Publication," Regular Publication InformationNeeded and Starting Discussion Thread SoughtMy new book (currently a near final draft) makes as many as 100criminal allegations against different people or parties. So my goalof publishing it may have legal complications or result in lawsuitsagainst me.Do libel or slander laws apply to my allegations against people orquotations that I say they made in a draft copy of my book manuscriptif I deliberately make either the draft or final manuscript availablefor download on a website, or if I deliberately post it to Usenet, orif I deliberately make available for Napster-style file sharing? Oneperson told me that these laws do not apply! This person said theyonly apply if the manuscript is published. So I am confused. Maybeinstead of publishing my book, I should simply "self-publish" on theinternet and then be free of legal consequences.
    No, "publication" in libel means you have made it available for
    somebody to read, by any means whatsoever. Usenet posting is
    publication, though the credibility of any Usenet poster is so low
    that there may be a longshot argument that no reasonable person would
    have believed you.
    Can somebody summaries Internet Self-publication versus regularpublication legal issues?
    As an Internet self-publisher, you are unlikely to be accorded the
    privileges enjoyed by legitimate journalists (particularly the
    requirement that the plaintiff prove actual malice).
    I found ALL of the below information on the internet.Please correct, comment, or reference better information or mistakesin the below.
    It is accurate, even if it doesn't go into much detail. In particular,
    it gives short shrift to a subject that should concern you greatly,
    which is libel per se (also called libel on its face). Certain
    allegations, such as that a person has committed a crime of moral
    turpitude or is infected with a loathsome disease, are so base that
    they are deemed injurious even if the victim cannot prove damages.

    So if you are considering publishing a manuscript (and self-publishing
    of any kind is publishing) in which you make some hundred accusations
    of crimes, you should be aware that at least some of those people may
    have viable cases for libel per se against you.

    You should also concern yourself with invasion of privacy. Many
    details of the lives of private persons and even some public figures
    are not open to public prying, even if they are true as you relate
    them.

    Any of the hundred or so people you plan to accuse could ruin your
    life for you with a well-prosecuted libel suit. DO NOT do anything
    like what you contemplate until you have secured definitive legal
    advice, which means contacting a lawyer who specialized in libel and
    invasion-of-privacy cases and paying him for his opinion.

    [snip]

    --
    I'm not a lawyer, DEFINITELY see a lawyer before doing anything
    remotely like what you contemplate,

    Chris Green

    Comment


    • #3
      Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations, Quotations, Internet

      A very nice email came from somebody who added the folling wonderful comentary.
      What is his background?

      On 23 Oct 2004in misc.legal you said/asked in substance:
      My book now in draft form makes numerous allegations of criminal conduct by different persons. Do libel . . . laws apply to my allegations . . . if I post them to a Usenet newsgroup or make the manuscript available for download from a website?
      Yes
      Is it correct as someone told me that defamation law does not apply to publication via the internet?
      No.
      Would the responses above be any different if the publication was made via Napster-style file sharing?
      No.
      Is it correct as someone told me recovery for libel or slander depends among other things on proof that the defendant published the words complained of?
      Yes (by definition).

      The (stupid and also obviously ill-informed) infirmity with the
      statement you ascribe to your interlocutor -- especially his or her at
      once facially absurd because self-contradictory and anyway palpably
      law-incorrect statement that "that instead of publishing [your] book,
      [you] should 'self-publish' on the internet" and thereby be "instead
      of publishing my book, I should simply "self-publish" on the
      internet as if you thereby would be "free of legal consequences" -- is
      that neither you nor s/he appear to understand that "publish" for
      defamation law purposes means no more than to communicate (by any
      means) to a third-person.
      Can somebody summaries Internet Self-publication versus regular publication legal issues?
      For the purposes about which you ask -- "publication" as a core
      element of defamation -- there is not any difference between
      publishing on/via the internet and publishing by other means (e.g.,
      writing then sending a letter, printing and distributing a leaflet or
      pamphlet, speaking loudly to passers-by on a street corner,
      broadcasting over the radio, being interviewed by a TV reporter,
      etc.).

      ( Conversely/correlatively, since [as you note in part] "publication"
      for defamation law purposes requires intentionality of communication
      to a third-person, sending an email addressed to onesself via a
      network on which the sender has good reason to believe that such data
      will remain essentially private [i.e. is not intended to and very
      probably will not be read by another] or, e.g., uploading to a network
      a word-processing file or graphics file for editing only by onesself
      also in an essentially private manner, etc., would not be deemed
      "publication" since, again, "publication" for these purposes by
      definition entails a communication deliberately made to a third person
      [or, perhaps, a statement one knows or in the circumstances ought know
      very likely would be heard by one or more third persons, such as,
      f'r'instance, yelling very loudly through an open window near a street
      with passers-by]. )
      Please correct, comment, or reference better information or mistakes in the below information I found on the internet: written defamation is generally referred to as "libel" and orally communicated defamation is generally referred to as "slander".
      Correct.
      Today, however, there are no such clear definitions.
      Incorrrect.
      Permanent forms . . .
      . . . not "permanent forms" but, rather, not just orally-communicated
      forms . . .
      . . . of defamation, such as the written or pictorial, are usually called "libel" while the spoken or gestured forms are called "slander"
      Correct.
      The term libel is also often used if a wide audience for the defamation is possible.
      Not correct if the publication at issue has been communicated only
      orally including if without it having been saved on some form of media
      from which it may readily be reproduced (e.g., film with a soundtrack,
      audio or video tape, a hand- or machine-made stenographic record or
      record from which a stenographic copy can be made).
      Courts have split over which category radio and television are in; . . .
      . . . except that, depending on context (which you don't supply),
      this is a potentially very misleading distinction anyway not likely to
      be of consequence for you . . .
      . . . and today's statutes . . .
      . . . and "common law" (i.e., judge-made rulings) . . .
      . . . generally categorize defamation occurring in those media as slander . . . .
      . . . except that the "generally" is not correct.
      The offenses are alike in several respects. The defamation : essentially exposure to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or pecuniary loss . . .
      . . . except that, in some jursidictions, liability for what commonly
      is referred to as "defamation per se" (i.e., words that are "per se"
      libelous or slanderous) may be imposed without the need to prove
      pecuniary loss . . .
      . . . must directly affect the reputation of a living person.
      Correct but just as a matter of definition -- i.e., that even
      deliberately false/untrue statements of asserted fact said about a
      human are not "defamatory" unless the target of the words is alive
      (although note, too, that, in some jurisidictions, one also may be
      liable for defamation of a fictive "person" such as corporatoin or
      other business organization and that there may be other theories
      pursuant to which what would have been "defamation" published about a
      now deceased person may be recoverable despite the target's death).
      It must be published, i.e., revealed to someone besides the subject of the attack . . .
      . . . not "revealed" but, rather, "communicated" . . .
      . . . and it is no defense that the defendant merely repeated but did not originate the defamation . . .
      . . . sort of correct, depending on the plaintiff's status or not as
      a "public figure" in whole or in part and on who the defendant is and
      the purpose of the defendant's publication (e.g., whether a print or
      electronic journalist who has made a reasonably dilligent even if, it
      later turns out, factually mistaken investigation of the undelrying
      facts).
      The plaintiff is required to prove that the statement was directed against . . .
      . . . or, as the case may be, deliberately stated about (i.e.,
      published but not necessarily in a manner intended to harm as
      "directed against" appears to connote) . . .
      . . . the defendant . . .
      . . . correct . . .
      . . . and, when necessary, the innuendo (the factors making an apparently innocent statement defamatory).
      This last phrase is basically gibberish -- an apparent but incoherent
      attempt to summarize as if one numerous different principles
      whether/how/when "innuendo" may be defamatory but without in any way
      actually explaining when/how "innuendo" (or what is said to be
      "implied" or what someone might claim to be "inferrable") applies in
      defamation-law contexts.
      Generally, truth is an absolute defense in a suit for defamation.
      Correct (although pay attention, too, the implication that "generally"
      does not mean "always" as, e.g., in [so-called] "false light" cases -
      i.e., statements which might be said to be "literally true" bu which,
      when read in context, are tantamount to communication statements about
      the plaintiff that are false in fact and are otherwise defamatory).

      It is also generally correct to say that:
      A false defamatory statement may be privileged . . .
      . . . in part ("qualifiedly" so) or in whole ("absolutely") so,
      depending on context, . . .
      . . . if the actor was a legislator, executive officer, or speaking in a court proceeding . . . .
      . . . or a journalist or news publisher communicating about a
      "public figure" or other person having a sufficent
      legislatively-created or otherwise law-redressable interest in being
      said to be protectible under "privilege" notions.
      Generally speaking, recovery for what used to be referred to as "group libel" or "group defamation" has been abolished in the U.S.
      Correct
      Whether the charge is libel or slander is important.
      Not necessarily.
      Most libels are deemed injurious and give immediate ground for suit.
      This is correct, but only because it is an empty tautlogy: A
      statement that is "libel" is, by defintion, a statement re. which
      there is an "immediate ground for suit" as, meanwhile and conversely,
      a written statement is not "libel" if it has not been published and is
      not otherwise defamatory (i.e., if it is said to one or more
      third-persons and otherwise in a manner such that it does not provide
      "immediate ground for suit").
      However, only certain types of statements are slanderous per se . . .
      . . . and, in like manner, only certain kind of written defamatory
      statements are "libelous per se" . . .
      . . . and do not require proof of pecuniary damages -- e.g., imputation of . . .
      . . . a particularly serious/egregious . . .
      . . . crime, of loathsome disease, or of professional or occupational incapacity . . . .
      . . . sort of correct, as a generaly matter, except that, in most
      U.S. states, a false statement of fact that does no more than
      criticise the target's "professional r occupational incapacity" might
      not even be defamatory much less defamation "per se" and so this
      latter category needs much more fact-specific clarity about the target
      and words said to be correct.
      In cases not entail "per se" defamation, there may not be any recovery unless the pecuniary loss caused by the injury is proved.
      Generally correct.
      The award to the successful plaintiff in a suit for defamation will usually include punitive, as well as compensatory, damages if the defendant willfully lied or published the defamation repeatedly.
      This is a potentially very misleading statement because whether it
      will/won't apply to any particular case (even if involving a "wilful"
      or many times deliberatly repated lie) requires far more careful
      state-by-state analysis than the otherwise more or less generalized
      statements made above.
      In New York Times Company v. Sullivan (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court provided a significant expansion of the protection of the press from libel actions by ruling to the effect that a "public figure" (e.g., a prominent governmental official) could be awarded damages for libel if falsehoods only if, besides the falsity of the statements complained of, the defamatatory words were published either with knowledge that they were false or, at least, in circumstances such that they were published with at least a reckless disregard for whether they were untrue; and this ruling has since been extended to . . .
      . . . almost . . .
      . . . any celebrity before the public.
      Basically correct.
      The Sullivan ruling . . .
      . . . and progeny . . .
      . . . in effect shifted the burden of proof . . .
      . . . of the lack of "malice" in the defamation-law sense of that
      term . . .
      . . . in "public figure" (and, in part, in "qualified public figure") cases from the defendant to the plaintiff and so such rulings have been helpful to print and broadcast and like media and have left . . .
      . . . "public figure" and "qualified public figure" . . .
      . . . plaintiffs with the difficult task of obtaining the sources for the allegedly libelous information - difficult because reporters and their publishers often preserve their confidential informants' indentities and so, relatedly, compelled disclosure to a defamation plaintiff of the informants' identities in such cases is often difficult or even\ not possible to obtain.
      This is correct, although the implication that a "public figure"
      plaintiff always need find and compel a reporter's source to testify
      as a pre-conditon to defamation recovery is either incorrect in some
      cases or, anyway, much too simple minded.

      The U.S. Supreme Court . . .
      . . . and also all authoritative state courts in each of the states
      in which this issue has arisen . . .
      . . . also ruled that only factual misrepresentation is to be considered libel or slander, not expression of opinion.
      This is correct, but (standing alone) is not especially helpful (since
      how to distingish between "fact" and "opinion" for defamation law
      purposes can be very difficult in particular cases).
      It has also ruled that libel suits may be filed across state lines, not only in the state where the plaintiff lives.
      When formulated this way ("across state lines") this is an at once
      potentially misleading and too broadly simplistic a statement.
      However, it is a truism (because it is true) that there have been
      libel or slander lawsuits by a plaintiff resident in stateA against a
      defendant (or defendants) resident in stateB (and states C...#) and,
      conversely, a slander lawsuit in stateB against a defendant resident
      in stateB brought by a plaintiff who is resident of stateA.
      Libel apply not only to the media and public personalities but also to businesses.
      As noted: correct (whether the business is a plaintiff or a defendant,
      although you don't here explain what you think you mean by "apply
      to").
      In recent years, producers of foods and other goods have succeeded in urging more than a dozen states to pass laws allowing them to sue critics of the safety or other aspects of their products; experts predict such laws will be overturned, . . .
      . . . and some such have been ruled ineffective . . .
      . . . but they have in the meantime had a "chilling" effect on public discussion in some cases.
      Correct, although such laws did not stop Oprah.

      --------------------------------

      Note that not addressed by you in your summary and so perhaps
      (actually?) overlooked by you (except for the passing reference you
      ascribe to a source who refers to the "chilling" nature of the
      availability of defamation litigation for some persons) is the issue
      of, on the one hand, the liklihood of a lawsuit in/for any particular
      orally-transmitted or written or electronically communicated statement
      and, on the other hand, the probable costs/expenses of defense of a
      defamation or other lawsuit is actually brought then effective
      prosecuted against a defendant.

      Re. your contemplated book, in particular, it therefore is not clear
      whether you've given any (or, anyway, adequate) thought to the
      question,
      Will you be able economically and otherwise
      to defend if you are sued in response to what
      you publish over the internet or otherwise?
      -- a quesion for you to answer for yourself, if you want to, not
      posed for the purpose of asking you to try to answer it for me

      ----------------------

      There is not any need to respond/acknowledge as, instead, either
      think about this Stuff (especially the last question summarized above)
      than you seem so far to have done, or don't, as you wish.

      Comment


      • #4
        Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations, Quotations, Internet

        How much protection does my book have if the various libelous or
        slanderously interpretable charges are directed at public or famous
        figures (please define legally) or public institutions or public
        policies being implemented by these figures?

        What if I change my whole book in whole or in part to say that it has
        no facts at all and that it is just my entire opinion, then can I be
        sued even though many people will "assume" it is fact or believe that
        is what I really meant or something like that?


        What if I say person P said horrible monsterous revealing Quote Q to
        me in conversation but there is no independent record about that. And
        I am sued by Person P saying that that Quote never happened? Who will
        win in court? What method is used to decide?

        Is there a statue of limitations for libel, slander, defamation? How
        long is it generally?

        Is defamation the same as libel or slander or a third thing?

        Comment


        • #5
          Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations, Quotations, Internet

          On 23 Oct 2004 11:47:15 -0700, [email protected] (Ethan
          Lourdes) wrote:
          Subject: Libel, Slander, "Criminal" and Misconduct Allegations,Quotations, Internet "Publication," Regular Publication InformationNeeded and Starting Discussion Thread SoughtMy new book (currently a near final draft) makes as many as 100criminal allegations against different people or parties. So my goalof publishing it may have legal complications or result in lawsuitsagainst me.
          This is a question for a real lawyer experienced in this area. A
          publisher will make you sign an indemnity agreement making you
          personally responsible for any judgments resulting from the book, plus
          legal costs.

          Even if your legal grounds are solid, you may still be pestered by
          lawsuits or threats of lawsuits. This can get expensive.

          Bill Penrose

          Comment

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