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Defamation on the internet

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    • 1. Defamation on the Internet Gina Kessler LIS 550
    • 2. What is defamation?This restaurant sucks. The owner is a huge jerk, theservers were rude, and the food tasted terrible.This restaurant sucks. The owner beats his employees,the server charged us double for the bottle of wine, andthe shrimp gave me food poisoning.
    • 3. Defamation
    • 4. Defamation• Generally, a communication that harms another’s reputation
    • 5. Defamation• Generally, a communication that harms another’s reputation• Libel: published or broadcast
    • 6. Defamation• Generally, a communication that harms another’s reputation• Libel: published or broadcast• Slander: spoken
    • 7. Defamation
    • 8. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another
    • 9. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”
    • 10. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”• Unprivileged “publication” to third party
    • 11. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”• Unprivileged “publication” to third party • Posted in public forum, told a friend
    • 12. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”• Unprivileged “publication” to third party • Posted in public forum, told a friend• Fault amounting to at least negligence on the part of the publisher (for public figures, must involve actual malice)
    • 13. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”• Unprivileged “publication” to third party • Posted in public forum, told a friend• Fault amounting to at least negligence on the part of the publisher (for public figures, must involve actual malice) • Didn’t do my research, or even wanted to hurt restaurant’s business
    • 14. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”• Unprivileged “publication” to third party • Posted in public forum, told a friend• Fault amounting to at least negligence on the part of the publisher (for public figures, must involve actual malice) • Didn’t do my research, or even wanted to hurt restaurant’s business• Causing special harm
    • 15. Defamation• False and defamatory statement concerning another • “The owner of 550 Grill beats his employees”• Unprivileged “publication” to third party • Posted in public forum, told a friend• Fault amounting to at least negligence on the part of the publisher (for public figures, must involve actual malice) • Didn’t do my research, or even wanted to hurt restaurant’s business• Causing special harm • Lost half his revenue--but in this case, don’t need proof; crime is defamation per se
    • 16. Defenses• (Substantial) truth • I have proof he beats his employees• Opinion • “He’s such a jerk I wouldn’t be surprised if he beats his employees” • Assertions less likely to be taken as fact online?
    • 17. You Can’t Sue the Messenger• Communications & Decency Act, § 230• Internet service providers aren’t liable for statements posted by others through their service
    • 18. What if I post as “JaneDoe”?• Can a plaintiff subpoena your identity from an internet service provider?• Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP)
    • 19. Should the rules for the Internet be different?• Editors?• Instant corrections/retractions• Ability to rebut offensive speech• Faster dissemination• What is the press? Who is a journalist?• Longer or shorter memory?
    • 20. Relevant Cases• New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) • Times ran an ad placed by civil rights activists that contained inaccuracies about police actions. Sullivan was the police commissioner of Montgomery. Supreme Court reversed Alabama Supreme Court’s $500,000 award to Sullivan, and limited future libel suits brought by public officials against the media, prioritizing the First Amendment.• Zeran v. America Online Inc. (1997) • Zeran argued that AOL didn’t remove defamatory messages by anonymous poster fast enough; Supreme Court ruled that AOL was protected by CDA• Doe v. 2TheMart.com (2001) • Court adopted four-part test to determine whether to issue a civil subpoena that seeks the identity of an anonymous Internet user (good faith, info sought is related to core claim, identity is directly relevant to claim, info is unavailable from any other source)
    • 21. References• Creech, Kenneth C. Electronic Media Law and Regulation. 4th ed. San Francisco: Focal Press, 2003.• Internet Defamation Law Blog. Nissenbaum Law Group, LLC. 21 Feb. 2012. <http://www.internetdefamationlawblog.com>• “Online Defamation Law.” Legal Guide for Bloggers. Electronic Frontier Foundation, n.d. 21 Feb. 2012. <https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/ liability/defamation>• Reich, Jarrod, and Bill Kenworthy. “Online Libel.” First Amendment Center. First Amendment Center, May 2007. 21 Feb. 2012. <http:// archive.firstamendmentcenter.org/speech/internet/topic.aspx? topic=online_libel>• Schachter, Madeleine. Law of Internet Speech. 2nd ed. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2002.