Defamation is a false. communication that gives a negative impression of a person, company, group, product, government, or country.
Defamation communicated in printed words or pictures is libel. Defamation can also be slander, which is made with spoken words, sounds, sign language, or gestures.
Defamatory publications are those that contain any false imputations concerning a person, or a member of his family, whether living or dead, by which (a) the reputation of that person is likely to be injured or (b) he is likely to be injured in his profession or trade or (c) other persons are likely to be induced to shun, avoid, ridicule or despise he/she.
A statement is “published” when it is made to the third party. The publication of defamatory matter can be by (a) spoken words or audible sound or (b) words intended to be read by sight or touch or (c) signs, signals, gestures or visible representations, and must be done to a person other than the person defamed.
Defamation and the Law
Typically, the elements of a cause of action for defamation include:
- A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
- The unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party (that is, somebody other than the person defamed by the statement);
- If the defamatory matter is of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and
- Damage to the plaintiff.
Defamation and the Internet
Defamation has, until the advent of the World Wide Web, been defined within jurisdictional boundaries governed by national ideologies and laws.