Back To CourseBusiness Law: Help and Review
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Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.
Have you ever found yourself standing at the checkout line in the grocery store, looking at some of the magazines touting stories that seem to be incredulous - from aliens landing at the White House to details of celebrity weddings that have not even happened yet? The stories may seem ridiculous, but they're right there on the cover of a magazine, begging you to come closer. Do you think there should be consequences to these magazines for printing false stories? The growing number of celebrities who are suing tabloids for libel seem to think there should be.
Libel and slander are both defamatory processes. In other words, each one discredits the party about whom the statements are made. However, each one is unique. Initially, slander occurs when one makes false statements to another individual by speaking the words. The transmission can be made by an oral statement or by a hand gesture. Slander does not include communications that are recorded or transfixed. In addition, there must be publication, which in the case of slander, means that the statement is made to another person.
Conversely, libel occurs when one makes a false statement about another person or entity that causes harm to that person's or entity's reputation. In order to constitute libel, there must also be publication of the statement. Publication of the libelous statement can be made by a written format, such as a newspaper article or Internet posting, or by an oral statement in a broadcast, such as by radio or television. In addition, the statement can be made to one person or many people, such as in a speech. Moreover, cartoons, signs and artistic depictions may constitute libel.
Slanderous and libelous statements must be expressed as a factual statement. Therefore, the statement cannot simply be an opinion about a person or entity. For example, if one says, 'The movie star looked disheveled,' this would be an opinion and not a statement and therefore does not constitute slander or libel. However, if the statement was, 'The actress was drunk and looked disheveled,' this would constitute slander or libel if the actress was not drunk. Additionally, libel differs from slander because slander refers solely to spoken words; thus, even though radio or television broadcasts involve spoken words, the fact that the words are made via a transfixed method results in the radio and television broadcasts conveying libel.
Slander is an action based upon torts, or civil wrongs that are grounds for a lawsuit. In addition, the state law applies to slander cases. Typically, in these cases, it is necessary to show that the slander occurred. It is not necessary for the defendant to prove that the statements he made are true; rather, the burden is on the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defamatory statements that were made are false.
Similarly, libel is an action based upon torts. Moreover, the specific laws applicable to a tort depend upon the state with jurisdiction over the case. Generally, in order to sue for libel, one must demonstrate that the libelous statement is not only false but also that it caused, or could potentially cause, harm to one's reputation.
Both slander and libel cases must demonstrate that the statement in question caused others to dislike, hate or have contempt for the party against which the statement was made. Furthermore, the law requires proof that the slanderous or libelous statement was actually published; that is, the false statement was communicated to another person. Finally, in order to succeed in a libel lawsuit, one must demonstrate that actual harm occurred to one's reputation or occupation as a result of the slanderous or libelous statement. Additionally, where one can prove that a party either wrote or spoke the libelous statement with malicious intent, one can obtain special damages, which are additional monies designed to punish the publisher of the statement. In a slander case, one cannot obtain special damages.
First, let's look at an example of slander. Imagine that a politician is up on a podium in front of a cheering crowd. A protestor stands up on the stage, grabs a microphone and says, 'Mr. Candidate here married my sister, had a child with her and then left her high and dry with no money!' This would be a perfect example of slander. Assume this was a false statement. First, the communication was made to the crowd, so there was publication. The comment was made in a way that would hold the individual out to ridicule and disdain and could cause damage to his character, the polls and more. Consequently, all of the elements for slander are fulfilled.
Let's take another example. This time let's use a similar example for libel. Imagine reading your daily newspaper or Internet news source and seeing a headline that reads, 'Mr. Candidate in a Sex Scandal with an Underage Minor!' If this was a false statement, this would certainly meet the criteria for libel. Not only does this constitute the publication requirement, but it clearly would cause harm and hold the candidate out to disgrace and harm his character in the public eye. These are clear cases of slander and libel.
Slander occurs when one makes false statements to another individual by speaking the words. The transmission can be made by an oral statement or by a hand gesture. Slander does not include communications that are recorded or transfixed. In addition, there must be publication, which in the case of slander, means that the statement is made to another person.
Conversely, libel occurs when one makes a false statement about another person or entity that causes harm to that person's or entity's reputation. In order to constitute libel, there must also be publication of the statement. Publication of the libelous statement can be made by a written format, such as a newspaper article or Internet posting, or by an oral statement in a broadcast, such as by radio or television. Slander is an action based upon torts, or civil wrongs that are grounds for a lawsuit.
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Back To CourseBusiness Law: Help and Review
28 chapters | 349 lessons