Term Paper: Defamation the Idea Behind

Pages: 7 (2813 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Law  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] If you are suing or sued, if you don't have much money to spend, especially if you have a rich opponent, the chances of your winning the case is very little. Years may take for a final decision. Appeals against judgments are also likely. Enormous cost is involved. Only the rich can reach the end. And the net result is that mainly the powerful ones and the rich only use the defamation law to prevent criticisms.

8. Fatima, Schroeder. "Comedian Wins Sex and Celebs-Case Against DJ" Cape Times, August, 11, 2002, p.4

Many people defamed would like that the same audience who heard the defamatory comments also hear their reply. But the mass media do not usually publish reactions, and may fight in the court for long than providing ample opportunity to reply. "Comparatively the Net provides low cost and timely avenue for replying to the same audience, and proves a wonderful solution to the problem other mass media poses" 9. The author could be asked to post a reply to the same audience, if the damaging comment or material is posted on the web or circulated on an email list. That happens routinely and is straightforward. Information could be circulated to potentially interested parties on the Net with rapidity, convenience, precision and low cost, if the author refuses to remove the offending material or to post a reply that is impossible to match with mass media, or the courts.

In the case of ordinary people whose reputation is attacked unfairly, it is not of much use. Only a very few are threatened with defamation, though people often say and write defamatory things. Sometimes simple comments grow to major court cases, whereas many great libels pass comparatively unchallenged. This condition of unpredictability has great impacts on free speech. Anything that might offend, the writers cut off for fear of defamation. Publishes fearing of the huge cost implied if they lose a case, have lawyers appointed to review the articles to be published and to cut off anything that might offend and lead to legal action. The net result is staunch restriction on free speech.

9. Eric, McCarthy. "Networking in Cyberspace: Electronic Defamation and the Potential for International Forum Shopping," University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Business Law, 1995, p.85

The defamation law is ineffective in dealing with defamation and it has a darker side too. It is often used as an instrument to suppress free speech, and especially if it criticizes the wealthy and the powerful. 10. The complexity of the defamation law makes most writers and publishers not to publish even the safer material for want of surety, as they prefer safety to later loss. The power of the lawyers and the judges are boosted as outsiders do not know as to how and to what extent it will be applied. The number of complexities prevents those who want to defend the defamation cases on their own without a lawyer.11. And sometimes it may occur that the defamation is launched years after the statement was made. It may take years to settle a case. It deters free speech in the meantime, and causes great anxiety till the case is resolved, especially for those sued. And justice delayed is justice denied.

The defamation laws are too harsh and unreliable, in countries like Britain and Australia.12. For example, one Australian book reviewer said in a newspaper that he objected to the author's lack of moral concern. The author got more than $100,000 from the publisher, after he sued and just two trials passed. 13 In another case, by launching defamation actions the police against the retailers, publisher and the author in Western Australia, kept a book off the shelf fro nearly 10 years. 14

10. Sharon, Beder. "SLAPPs: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation," Current Affairs Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 3, October / November 1995, p. 24.

11. Eric, Barendt. Lustgarten, Laurence. Norrie, Kenneth and Stephenson, Hugh. "Libel and the Media: The Chilling Effect "Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997 p.33

12. Robert, Pullan. Guilty Secrets: Free Speech and Defamation in Australia (Sydney: Pascal Press, 1994).pp.56

13. David, Bowman. "The story of a review and its $180,000 consequence," Australian Society, volume 2, number 6,1 July 1983, p. 30.

14. Avon, Lovell. Split Image: International Mystery of the Mickelberg Affair Perth: Creative Research, 1990, p.65

Threatening actions of defamation law, the corrupt politicians have kept themselves safe from the media scrutiny. In the United States the defamation law looks simple on paper, but often hinders free speech 15. Rolling stone, a magazine, published an article about the origin of AIDS from polio vaccines, and the scientist who developed the vaccine sued. Even before getting into the court, Rolling stone had to spend more than half a million dollars on legal fees, that they published a clarification. "Never again they dared to publish anything on the subject.." 16. In the United States there are a number of cases of citizens signing petitions or writing letters of complaint to the government, were threatened with defamation law. Hindering free speech by use of defamation laws and the like is known as Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participations (SLAPPs).17. This shows the ways of manipulation of legal systems by the wealthy and the powerful groups.

15. Michael, Newcity. "The sociology of defamation in Australia and the United States," Texas International Law Journal, volume 26, number 1 (Winter 1991), p. 41

16. Michael K, Curtis. "Monkey trials: science, defamation, and the suppression of dissent," William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, volume 4, number 2 (1995), p. 567

17. George W, Pring. And Penelope, Canan. SLAPPs: Getting Sued for Speaking Out Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996, p. 20

Threat is the most common use of defamation law to suppress freedom of speech, and these are far more than lawsuits. And many a time cases filed in the court are seen dropped halfway, and do not reach trial. In the case of publishers, they don't want to take risky chances for fear of costly court cases, and hence they block the publication at the very instance of threat. But the fear of being sued is more harmful than threatening itself, imposing a type of self-censorship. The fear of offending the probable litigants has made many publishers and editors cut anything controversial. These problems are minimized by self-publication in the Net. The author just sends email to the recipients or sets up a website. Here also the author can be sued. But comparatively the risk here is less. Mass media corporations having lots of money are easily made targets. To conclude we can say that for the financially unsound authors, defamation law is always unattractive, and following it through to the end may often prove detrimental.

Works Cited

Barendt, Eric. Lustgarten, Laurence. Norrie, Kenneth and Stephenson, Hugh. "Libel and the Media: Te Chilling Effect "Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997 pp.32-36;

Beder, Sharon. "SLAPPs: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation," Current Affairs Bulletin, Vol. 72, No. 3, October / November 1995, pp. 22-29.

Bowman, David "The story of a review and its $180,000 consequence," Australian Society, volume 2, number 6, 1 July 1983, pp. 28-30.

Counts, C; Martin, A. "Libel in Cyberspace: A Framework for Addressing Liability and Jurisdictional Issues in this New Frontier," Albany Law Review, 1996, vol 59, p.45-48

Curtis, Michael K. "Monkey trials: science, defamation, and the suppression of dissent," William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, volume 4, number 2 (1995), pp. 507-593.

Hermann, Richard. "Who is Liable for Online Libel?" St. Thomas Law Review, 1996. pp.48-51

Lovell, Avon. Split Image: International Mystery of the Mickelberg Affair Perth: Creative Research, 1990, pp.63-65

McCarthy, Eric. "Networking in Cyberspace: Electronic Defamation and the Potential for International Forum Shopping," University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Business Law, 1995, p.83-88

Nesson, Charles, Marglin, David. "The Day the Internet Met the First Amendment: Time and the Communications… [END OF PREVIEW]

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