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Bulbanews:Libel

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Libel is one of the key laws that all journalists must be aware of. Libel is devided into civil libel and criminal libel; since it is most likely that Bulbanews would be sued in America or Australia, this article is a discussion of those two locales and their respective libel law.

The definition of libel is written slander, or false statements about a person, corporation, or other single entity in print which damage said entity's reputation. Libel is a subcategory of defamation law when it is in civil court; in criminal court, it is simply considered "criminal libel".

American Libel Law

Civil

American civil libel law is based on a very simple principle, called malicious intent or actual malice This was explained in the NYT Co. v. Sullivan case. This means, in layman's terms, that to be convicted of libel one has to have the intent to defame someone via the published product one is being sued over, and/or know that what is being published is false.

Libel Defenses

  1. Truth is the ultimate defense against libel in American courts.
  2. Information already on the public record (i.e., from a court proceeding) is immune to lawsuits.
  3. Direct, unedited quotations cannot defame someone. Proof is typically required that the quote is unmodified in the event of the threat of a libel suit.

When an article quotes someone and edit their quotation, it's a good idea to go back to that person to ensure that their quote is used properly and with their consent.

Remember that opinion, if it may be interpereted as a statement of fact by a "reasonable person", can be libelous. Opinion columns and/or opinionated statements are frequently subject to threats of libel lawsuits since they imply false statements via the expression of opinion.

Criminal

Some states have criminal libel law; that is, defaming someone or something can bring a lawsuit against the party who committed the defamation. This is typically used on students and student publications, and very rarely on news sources. Also, the states in which it is likely that Bulbanews would be sued do not have criminal libel law.

Defenses

  • The best defense against criminal libel suits is, again, the truth.

Australian Libel Law

Civil

Criminal

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