A Possible Defense Against Defamation Statements

With the increased use of social and other online media, defamatory litigation cases have exploded in our court systems like never before.  However, there are some instances whereby libelous statements may be allowed, of course, under certain circumstances.  The fair report privilege can be used to defend against a defamation lawsuit.  This is normally true when an individual is reporting on the information of public interest that comes from such places as a judicial proceeding, a legislative hearing, a city council meeting, or testimony given at trial.  However, there are very specific requirements that must be met in order for it to be accepted as a fair report privilege and not just a slanderous statement.  Those include:

  • – That the source of your words was made either in an official public document or as a statement by a public official in an official capacity;
  • – That you properly cited that such information or statement came from that specific official source; and
  • – That you fairly and correctly depicted the information from the document or statement.

But note that the fair report privilege is not accepted by all States.  Some states do recognize it as an accepted defense, but there are others that do not, therefore, it is extremely important to make sure that your state recognizes this privilege before you try to use it as a defense should you find yourself in a defamation lawsuit, or even better, before you publish or report on certain information to the public.  In addition to the above, the courts may also look at your intention for reporting such information and was done in good faith or in a malicious manner.

For further information on the fair report privilege and other defamation defenses, contact one of our defamation attorneys specializing in internet and online slander and libel issues.

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