Communications Law Review (Test 2)

Communications Law Review (Test 2) - TEST TWO REVIEW...

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TEST TWO REVIEW Chapter 4: Libel I. INTRODUCTION a. US Supreme Court still recognizes reputation as one of a person’s most important possessions b. Libel law : only legal means to vindicate/recover a falsely tarnished reputation c. Number of successful libel and privacy cases brought against news media is decreasing i. Media often prevail on appeal even if they lose before a jury ii. About 90% cases dropped, dismissed, settled before trial iii. Defamation is still costly threat to media 1. Alton Telegraph: paid 600,000 unsuccessfully defending itself II. LIBEL TERMINOLOGY a. Defamation : expression that damages one’s reputation i. Almost all cases taken to civil rather than criminal court b. Libel and Slander i. Libel: written or printed defamation ii. Slander: spoken defamation iii. Plantiffs typically win larger damage awards in libel suits because it is believed to cause more harm to reputation iv. Restatement (Second) of Torts 1. Says defamation by broadcast should be treated the same as print defamation because it can damage reputation just as badly. 2. Same credibility and prestige as print v. Internet defamation libel rather than slander c. Criminal Libel and Civil Libel i. Most early libel was criminal law but in 20 th and 21 st centuries, virtually all libel cases in US are civil suits. ii. Defamed now sue for money damages. Government rarely seeks jail term/fine in criminal law proceedings now. iii. Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952) 1. US Supreme Court upheld an Illinois statue that criminalized any publication for remarks directed at ethnic and racial groups. 2. These libelous remarks are not protected by 1 st Amendment. 3. Has not been overturned, but now ethnic and racial slurs directed at large groups are not considered defamatory because they don’t identify an individual. iv. Ashton v. Kentucky 1. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Steve Ashton under Kentucky’s law, saying it was too vague and imprecise to withstand constitutional scrutiny. 2. Ashton had been fined $3000 and 6 months in prison for printing a pamphlet that attacked chief of police, sheriff, co-owner of Hazard Herald for their failure to support striking miners. 3. breach-of-the-peace laws unconstitutionally vague because speakers could not known when their speech was “calculated to create disturbances of the peace” III. THE PLAINTIFF a. Government or government agency may NOT sue for libel, but government officials can bring defamation suits b. Living Individuals 1
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i. No person can sue for damage to the reputation of another ii. Friends, relatives, associates can only sue if they have been defamed themselves iii. However, a relative may be able to continue libel suit filed by an individual who dies before the suit is finished. iv.
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Communications Law Review (Test 2) - TEST TWO REVIEW...

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