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Topic: What is libel.
Message: Posted by: mattneufeld (Sep 3, 2002 04:37PM)
In another forum, things got heated and someone said something was "libelous." To prove libel, and it is very difficult to prove, you have to show that the person making the original statement made the statement with a clear, deliberate and planned intension of inflicting harm or insult or degradation to someone else.

Most of the time-actually, the vast majority of the time-when someone says something is
"libelous," it doesn't meet the legal definition and, in the end, it is not libelous.

Folks: in the world of gossip, some people are going to say things that are inaccurate, wrong, guess work, speculation, wrong headed, heated, and missing some of the facts. While this isn't the most intellectual of pursuits, it is not libelous, nor is it uncommon.

I would say this: try and get your facts straight as much as you can before posting gossip, and if you do post unsubstantiated gossip, just say this: "This isn't confirmed, but this is what I heard..." There. It's that simple. (And let's not accuse anyone else of libel!) Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Sep 3, 2002 05:44PM)
For something to be actually libellous:
The statement must be in print (as opposed to spoken, which is slander).
The statement must be untrue.
The statement must be made with provable intent to do harm.
The statement must be made against a living person (you can't libel the dead).

Basically, libel is something (the courts say) that will cause other people to shun the pary named because of the statement.
Message: Posted by: Andy Leviss (Sep 3, 2002 07:29PM)
Aren't there also some differences in what's libel vs. what's not with regards to whether the subject of the statement is a private individual or a public figure?
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Sep 6, 2002 03:37AM)
[quote]
On 2002-09-03 18:44, Peter Marucci wrote:
[...]
The statement must be made with provable intent to do harm.
[...]
[/quote]

Actually this is not completely correct. Defamatory words that are considered by the court to be "libelous per se" do not require proof of intent OR proof of damage. The courts have held that there are SOME public accusations that are so clearly d@mning as to bypass the need for proof; in such cases a plaintiff need only prove that the public accusations were MADE.

Black's Law defines some of these "libelous per se" statements thus: "...imputatuion of crime, a loathsome disease, unchastity or words afecting a plaintiff's business, trade, profession, office or calling."

Plainly stated, Peter, if I publicly accuse you of a crime - knowing full well that you did not commit the crime - it is not necessary to prove that I meant to do you harm, since any reasonable person would know that such harm would result.

By the way, are you still beating your wife?

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Sep 6, 2002 06:22AM)
Thomas Wayne asks: "By the way, are you still beating your wife?"

Well, since you asked . . . .


:rotf:
Message: Posted by: Ross W (Sep 6, 2002 11:23AM)
I'm not sure if US and UK law is the same on this one.

In the UK you would usually have to prove that you had suffered some loss or damage as a result of the defamatory statement. Often it is sufficient to show that your "reputation had been lowered in the minds of right-thinking members of society."

In the UK, Andy's point about public/private figures is covered by "fair comment". For example, I can say, without fear of litigation, that the Prime Minister, for example, is a lying, cheating, duplicitous son-of-a-gun. I can say that a popular rap star is a talentless nobody. If I go on say that the PM is having a gay affair with the said rapper, then I'm on dodgier ground... (Unless of course, I can prove it.)

Anyone who'd like to see my pictures of Tony Blair and Snoop Dogg, PM me...
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Sep 6, 2002 04:21PM)
Ross,
Please! Don't even put that thought in my head! :wow:
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Sep 7, 2002 06:49PM)
[quote]
On 2002-09-06 12:23, ross welford wrote:
[...]
For example, I can say, without fear of litigation, that the Prime Minister, for example, is a lying, cheating, duplicitous son-of-a-gun
[...]
[/quote]

Big deal. We have the EXACT same freedom right here in the U.S.

I too can say, without fear of litigation, that the Prime Minister is a lying, cheating, duplicitous son-of-a-gun.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Ross W (Sep 8, 2002 09:40AM)
Thomas

Steady on - no need to be so bloody touchy. ("Big deal" etc...) You surely must be the only person to have read my post as being some sort of lame "boast" about British legality (like I care), as opposed to a simple attempt to observe that there may be differences.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Wayne (Sep 8, 2002 12:15PM)
Ross,

Steady on yourself, old chap. You may be the only one to miss the fact that my post was a joke - actually, a revival of an old Cold War joke.

Back in the seventies, there was a joke wherein two diplomats, an American and a Russian, were talking about the relative merits of their countries.

The American says: "Here in the land of the free we enjoy the right to express our opinions without risk of reprisal. For example, If I want to, can walk openly down the streets of Washington D.C. shouting 'The President of the United States is a no good lousy crook' without fear of punishment."

The Russian diplomat replies: "Big deal, we have the very same freedom; I can walk openly down the streets of Moscow shouting
'The President of the United States is a no good lousy crook', and I won't be punished either!"

It's a bloody JOKE, baby.

Regards,
Thomas Wayne
Message: Posted by: Ross W (Sep 8, 2002 12:49PM)
Doh!

Apologies, Thomas. As George Bernard Shaw said of the Americans and British: "Two people divided by a common language..." Humour and irony are so easily misinterpreted on these pages, and I fell right into that trap.

Mea culpa.

Regards
Ross