Take Note Wk 4 - Week 4 Sept 17-21 Lecture 1 of 2 I....

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Week 4 Sept 17-21 Lecture 1 of 2 I. Defamation of Character-also known as libel a. Someone must make a false statement to a third person that will injure the plaintiff’s reputation b. Particularly if the publisher is the media. The defendant needs to have some degree of fault because of First Amendment concerns-libel is no longer a strict liability tort. There needs to be at least negligence. c. Plaintiff has to prove some injury to reputation as well d. Notoriety of a plaintiff may have an effect on a defamation lawsuit e. Defenses include truth, privilege, or opinion. 1. Unkind comments in a recommendation letter should be grounds for defamation. If the recommender judgment/opinion is reasonable fiber known facts, it may be privileged. Letters should carefully separate opinions from facts because just saying “in my opinion. ..” is not going to mean the statement will be protected. 2. Another business setting where defamation may be relevant involves credit reports that contain false, damaging information about creditworthiness. If the party that publishes the false statement does so in good faith and has a legitimate reason for the sharing the information, then they will not be liable. f. An example of a privileged statement would be comments made on a witness stand g. See , Case 7-3text at 129. Hall and Co. fires Buck, but Buck doesn’t understand why he was fired. An investigator hired by Buck interviews other employees and mangers. The mangers and so-worker tell the investigator that they believe Buck to be a bad employee, unreliable, a thief, ect. These interviews are tantamount to defamatory statements to a third person (investigator). Buck sues for defamation. Defenses include the “opinion” of Buck’s coworkers. A defense of opinion must be based in fact. h. See Zeran v. AOL , Case 48-1, text at 990. a false statement posted online alleges Zeran is selling tasteless t-shirts mocking the victims of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Zeran started receiving harassing phone calls and emails. Zeran tells AOL which did nothing to stop it; did nothing to track the individual or remove the postings. AOL was found not liable. The court held that AOL, as an ISP, is not a publisher like a newspaper vut more like a phone company (and you don’t sue the publisher like a newspaper, but more like a phone company (and you don’t sue the messenger). Congress passed the Communication Decency Act so that ISPs could focus on monitoring children’s access to pornography. A section of this federal law stated explicitly that ISP’s were not publishers. This was done so that ISP’s could monitor and censor some pornographic activities. If the ISP’s were considered publishers, they might not
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aggressively monitor pornography because of the fear that they would be held liable other posted content in an environment where it is impossible to adequately monitor all speech.
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This note was uploaded on 12/23/2008 for the course AEM 3200 taught by Professor Grossman,d. during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Take Note Wk 4 - Week 4 Sept 17-21 Lecture 1 of 2 I....

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