Pember17 ppt ch04

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Pember17 ppt ch04

  1. 1. Mass Media Law 17 th Edition Don Pember Clay Calvert Chapter 4
  2. 2. The Libel Landscape <ul><li>Defamation (libel) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The publication or broadcast of any statement that: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Injures someone’s reputation, or </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Lowers that person’s esteem in the community </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  3. 3. The Libel Landscape <ul><li>Time and Money </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expensive and time consuming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Often brought by plaintiffs who make outrageous damage claims to win enormous awards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Complicated and confusing; jurors and even judges don’t always understand the law </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  4. 4. The Libel Landscape <ul><li>Time and Money </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Odds are better than 50/50 that press will lose case if it goes before jury, because: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Libel law is extremely complex. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Jurors are more likely to be swayed by tangible damage to a person’s reputation than abstract First Amendment principles. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Many citizens do not hold mass media in high regard. </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  5. 5. The Libel Landscape <ul><li>The Lawsuit as a Weapon </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many plaintiffs file libel suits to silence critics. These are referred to as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation or SLAPP suits. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Growing number of SLAPP suits filed in past two decades, and more than 20 states have anti-SLAPP laws on the books. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>California has broadest anti-SLAPP law. </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  6. 6. Elements of Libel <ul><li>To win a libel suit, a plaintiff must prove: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The libel was published </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The words were of and concerning the plaintiff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The material is defamatory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The material is false </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The defendant was at fault </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  7. 7. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Publication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When one person, in addition to the writer and the person defamed, sees or hears the material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presumed publication – if the material appears in a mass media outlet, it is automatically presumed by the courts to be published </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  8. 8. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Publication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Republication rule – every republication of a libel is a new libel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Attributing a libel to a third party will not shield people from a lawsuit </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Distributors are exempt from the republication rule as long as they did not have scienter (guilty knowledge) of the contents before distribution </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  9. 9. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Publication on the Internet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online service providers (OSPs) are liable for libelous information if they are the creator or originator of the material </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>OSPs are protected from libel actions if they are merely transmitting other’s content </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  10. 10. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Identification </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The defamatory statement is “of or concerning him/her” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can be identified by: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Name </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Nickname </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Photograph </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>References that would identify only one person </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  11. 11. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Group Identification </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Statements made about a very large group cannot be used as the basis for a libel suit by one member of the group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the group is small, individual members of the group may be able to bring a libel suit for comments made about the entire group </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  12. 12. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Defamation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Libel per se – words that are libelous on their face </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Libel per quod – words that are innocent on their face and only become defamatory when other facts are known </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  13. 13. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Defamation: Considerations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Juries and judges consider: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Words in light of their ordinary meaning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Innuendo as potentially defamatory </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Words in context of entire piece </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pure opinion is not defamatory </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  14. 14. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Defamation: Sources Of Libel Suits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Libel suits can arise from: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Imputations of criminal behavior </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sexual references and implications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal habits </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ridicule </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  15. 15. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Defamation: Business Reputation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Libel law goes furthest in protecting persons in their business and occupations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Single mistake rule – stories that suggest someone make one mistake in their business dealings may not be defamatory; stories that suggest a pattern of incompetence would be defamatory </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  16. 16. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Defamation: Trade Libel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Criticism of a product is called “trade libel” but is not really libel at all, as it focuses on the product itself. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To prove trade libel, a plaintiff must show: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Statements about the product are false </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Specific monetary loss because of the false statements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>False comments were motivated by ill will or actual malice </li></ul></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  17. 17. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Falsity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not every plaintiff must meet this requirement. Private-person plaintiffs only need to prove falsity if statements are “matters of public concern.” If not of public concern, defendant must prove it is true. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If the proven truth leaves a different impression of the plaintiff in the minds of the jury than the impression created by the defamatory falsehood </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
  18. 18. Elements of Libel <ul><li>Falsity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Evidence presented in court must go to the heart of the libelous comments; the “sting” of the libel must be false </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minor errors, unless they are at the heart of the libel, will not result in a finding of falsity </li></ul></ul>© 2011 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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