Defamation Law Requires You To Prove Publication of the Defamatory Statement

traverselegal - November 3, 2011 - Defamation Law, Proving a Defamatory Statement

Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post, Facebook update, rating submission, or a forum comment.  Your online reputation is measured by the websites return as Google search results.  Do you know what people are saying and writing about you?

Welcome to Defamation Law Radio.  My name is Attorney Enrico Schaefer.  My law firm specializes in internet defamation issues. That is, online libel and slander, defamatory statements that are, in fact, published online on the internet.

In a previous show, we discussed what is a defamatory statement.  In this show, we are going to discuss the second element of defamation, whether it be libel or slander.

The second element is that the statement has to be published to third parties.  This is typically an element which is easy to prove.  In order to show that a defamatory statement is communicated to someone else, someone in the community, so that it can, in fact, harm your reputation, you have to show that people read it or saw it.  Okay?

So, let’s review.  In a case of libel, it is written defamation, and so that would mean that not only did someone say something and publish it on a website either by way of a web page, a blog post, a forum or bulletin board post or a comment to someone else’s blog or a review on a review site, you know, these types of things, you have to be able to show that someone actually read the communication in the case of libel.

In the case of slander, slander is going to be when a defamatory statement – a false statement of fact which tends to harm someone’s reputation – is made.  Either an audio or video file on the internet.  If someone posts a You Tube that contains some false statements of fact about a plaintiff, and are, in fact, defamatory statements – they tend to harm that person’s reputation – there would still be no claim for defamation which would support a defamation lawsuit if no one ever saw the video.  And, of course, in the case of You Tube, they say how many people actually viewed the video.

In the online space, where it is libel and it’s written, you would have to show how many people went to that web page and, of course, that they would have read the relevant portion of the web page.   So, the key things you need to know as a defamation plaintiff are this:  where was the defamatory statement published and how are you going to prove that it was, in fact, read or heard on the internet?  Where are you going to get that evidence?  And then, how many people have read or heard the defamatory statements is going to go directly to damages, so you really need to prove not only that, yes, someone heard it, read it, or saw it, but how many people actually read it, heard it and saw it is going to be very important in proving the extent of harm to your reputation, the extent of defamation damages.

Look, you cannot defame someone if you’re standing by yourself in the woods.  If you are a defamation defendant and someone is accusing you of defamation, the first thing you need to take a look at is who did you say the words to, where did you publish the words, how many people would have been involved in hearing or being exposed to the alleged false statement of fact.  So, in the internet space, the second element that the statement, the alleged defamatory statement, has to be published to third persons is typically really easy to prove.  The real question becomes: how many people heard the defamatory statement, read the defamatory statement, etc.?

That’s all for today.  In the next episode we’ll be talking about how do you prove that the statement was, in fact, a false statement, a false statement of fact as opposed to one of opinion.   My name is Internet Law Attorney Enrico Schaefer, and we’ll be looking for you next time on Defamation Law Radio where we’ll continue to discuss and educate potential parties, both plaintiffs/defendants on the elements of defamation and other aspects of defamation of law.

You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio, where defamation of character, slander, and libel are always the topic of the day.  Whether you are a defamation attorney or a client, we are the number one resource for all your defamation questions.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.