defamation


defamation

In law, issuance of false statements about a person that injure his reputation or that deter others from associating with him. Libel and slander are the legal subcategories of defamation. Libel is defamation in print, pictures, or any other visual symbols. A libel plaintiff must generally establish that the alleged libel refers to him or her specifically, that it was published to others (third parties), and that some injury occurred as a result. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that public persons (e.g., celebrities or politicians) alleging libel may recover damages only if they prove that the statement in question was made with “actual malice”—i.e., with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for the truth (New York Times v. Sullivan, 1964). Slander is defamation by oral communication. An action for slander may be brought without alleging and proving special injury if the statement has a plainly harmful character, as by imputing to the plaintiff criminal guilt, serious sexual misconduct, or a characteristic negatively affecting his business or profession. The defense in defamation cases often takes the form of seeking to establish the truth of the statements in question.

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