Digital defamation — also called online defamation and internet defamation — is a serious legal issue that can get the defamer sued. Most internet defamation is libel. That is written defamation. But, given the prevalence of podcasts and video uploads to social media and internet platforms, online defamation can also be slanderous — that is verbal defamation. If you have been the victim of digital defamation, contact us here at Revision Legal. We are an experienced Defamation Law Firm and can help defend you, your company, your reputation, and your brand from defamation and punish those who have committed the defamation. In this article, we will explain the legal process under the California legal rules.
California Civil Code
California has enacted statutes that define defamation. California Civil Code, section 45, defines “libel” in a manner that is much broader than “writing.” The Code section reads as follows:
” … a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.”
The statute was enacted in 1872 but applies just as well to punish online defamation in the Age of the Internet. The following section — Cal. Civil Code, §46 — defines “slander” as:
“… a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which:
1. Charges any person with a crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for a crime;
2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;
3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage”
Note that, for both libel and slander, the California Civil Code requires that libelous or slanderous statements be FALSE, not merely an opinion.
What Types of Legal Actions Can be Taken to Punish Internet Defamation?
If you are searching for a top-tier internet defamation law firm, our experienced defamation lawyers can evaluate the totality of the facts and circumstances and provide some options. Among the options include various types of litigation, particularly if the defamation caused an actual loss of business or the cancellation of a business relationship/contract. Various causes of action can be included in one lawsuit. Types of California litigation include:
- Defamation lawsuits – libel and slander versions or both
- Lawsuits for intentional interference with contractual relations or prospective business advantage
- Litigation related to personal and privacy rights such as misappropriation of likeness, false light litigation, intrusion into seclusion and solitude, etc.
- Trademark and brand tarnishment litigation
- And more
Litigation of these types is intended to compensate the victim for the harm caused by online defamation. But, in addition, other legal actions are targeted at removing online false statements. Efforts of these types include:
- Sending cease and desist letters
- Sending take-down notices to websites and social media platforms
- Filing complaints with websites and online platforms for violation of the privacy or other policies
Contact Revision Legal