Speech Torts

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Defamation and being careful about what you say online

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Speech Torts

  1. 3. How to Avoid Being Sued for What You Put on the Internet FERGUS O'ROURKE Barrister-at-law www.twitter.com/ubfid www.irish-lawyer.com (Not just law stuff)
  2. 4. In Your Dreams ... People should be allowed to say what they like about whoever they like, whether or not they can prove it, and whether or not they're right. ( Bryan Caplan ) Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me ( Anon .)
  3. 5. Reality is Different <ul><li>A word once uttered can never be recalled.( Horace ) </li></ul><ul><li>A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.( Benjamin Franklin) </li></ul>
  4. 6. Speech Torts <ul><li>Defamation (slander+libel) </li></ul><ul><li>Injurious falsehood </li></ul><ul><li>Miscellaneous e.g . interference with contractual relationships </li></ul>
  5. 7. Defamation <ul><li>“ defamatory statement” means a statement that tends to injure a person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of society </li></ul><ul><li>(Defamation Act 2009) </li></ul>
  6. 8. Injurious Falsehood <ul><li>... involves the making of statements which are untrue...[and]... the falsehood causes harm; harm of a kind which is intended, or, of a kind which is the natural and probable consequence of the making of the false statements. </li></ul>
  7. 9. Bad News <ul><li>It is impossible to guarantee to you that you will avoid </li></ul><ul><li>ever being sued for internet defamation </li></ul>
  8. 10. Worse News <ul><li>There is no way to guarantee that you can avoid </li></ul><ul><li>litigation of any kind </li></ul>
  9. 11. Good News 1 <ul><li>You can drastically reduce your risks by </li></ul><ul><li>… avoiding malice </li></ul><ul><li>... never speaking ill </li></ul><ul><li>… pausing before publishing </li></ul><ul><li>... only asserting what you can prove </li></ul><ul><li>… even better, stating opinion not claiming fact </li></ul><ul><li>This is, to some extent, a counsel of perfection i.e. you’d have to be perfect to bring it off </li></ul>
  10. 12. Good News 2 <ul><li>Even if you err, it need not be a disaster: </li></ul><ul><li> Withdraw </li></ul><ul><li> Apologise </li></ul>
  11. 13. Third-Party Statements <ul><li>Counsel of Perfection: don't ever publish ! </li></ul><ul><li>Get your own advice if it's a “biggie” for you </li></ul><ul><li>Otherwise, take “reasonable care” </li></ul><ul><li>Be sure you have “no reason to believe” it's tortious </li></ul>
  12. 14. Summary <ul><li>Whereof o ne cannot speak, thereof one must be silent ( Ludwig Wittgenstein ) </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Honey, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness is more than half the battle </li></ul><ul><li>Be good :-) </li></ul><ul><li>Do you want to get sued? I didn't think so </li></ul>
  13. 15. Some Sources <ul><li>Defamation Act, 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/2009/a3109.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>Eoin O'Dell </li></ul><ul><li>http://www.cearta.ie/ </li></ul><ul><li>Adrianos Facchetti http://www.defamationlawblog.com/ </li></ul><ul><li>Evan Brown </li></ul><ul><li>http://blog.internetcases.com/ </li></ul>

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