Libel Slander Defamation and Blogs
Stuart Levine in his Tax & Business Law Commentary has an October 30, 2003 posting entitled: ” Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn Ya’ “, referring to a potential libel case involving two blogs.
Libel, slander and defamation are always possible problems when we exercise our first amendment right to free speech and freedom of the press, both of which are not without limit. There are and must be bounds for everything in law.
Definitions of Libel Slander and Defamation
Essentially, defamation is an “attack” on the reputation of a person. It is called libel if it is in writing and is known as slander if it is spoken.
Explanations of Libel Slander and Defamation
See the following pages for more general orientation, definitions and explanation of the above-mentioned and associated terms:
Libel Defense Resource Center – includes an online 50-State survey of libel law
The First Amendment Handbook by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press – it treats libel in depth as it affects the media
What is Libel? – short description from writing-world.com
Puerto Rico Criminal Libel Law Struck Down as violating the 1st Amendment (February 4, 2003)
Libel laws generally in some countries other than the US: the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany
Liability Insurance for Defamation
If you are a blogger, make sure you have the right liability insurance,
as discussed by Attorney Ivan Hoffman,
and watch your words.
Online Liability for Defamation
Links to the fledgling law of “online liability” are found at:
in an article by Jarrod F. Reich, “Internet & First Amendment: Online Libel” (Reich is still a law student at Vanderbilt)
There seems to be no question that every blogger is liable for what he or she writes on a blog.
Who May be Excluded from Liability
A the same time, the operating website, e.g. blogger.com, typepad.com, or radiouserland.com are seemingly thus far NOT liable for what YOU post online to your blog on those sites, at least based on the following commentary:
In a November 7, 2003 article by Douglas Lee, an Illinois attorney, entitled, “Obscure Internet libel provision hits the big time”, Lee discusses Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 as interpreted by the 9th Circuit in Batzel v. Smith where a 2-1 court decision provides virtual libel immunity to website operators (as opposed to those who have actually written the materials).
What about bloggers who post 3rd-party materials to their blog, i.e. materials they have not written themselves, but which are libelous. Can they be held liable for this material?
“It clarifies the existing law….. It expands it in the sense that no court had really addressed bloggers, list serve operators and those people yet, certainly not on the level of the 9th Circuit Court.”
No Blogger Immunity – Bloggers CAN Be Sued For Libel
But there should be no blogger euphoria over Batzel v. Smith, nor does the case grant bloggers immunity,
Read particularly what Balkin writes. I often do not agree with him on his political postings, but in his legal analysis he is simply superb.