Will a defamation removal attorney offer legal remedies to reputation damage resulting from online defamation?
If you're seeking to collect money for the damage that the defamatory postings have done you will need to consult with a legal expert, such as a law office with lawyers specializing in online defamation. However, if you're simply looking to get rid of the harmful content that's been published about you online, you may not need to fork over the often hefty legal fees that accompany the use of legal council to remove defamation from the internet. libel attorneys charge you for her legal defamation takedown.
If you do decide to seek out a court-ordered removal or use online reputation management services to combat internet slander attackers, it's important to choose an experienced firm that will get the job done right the first time.
Defamation can ruin your reputation, but is suing for slander in your best interest? We explain how you can stop online defamation without filing a defamation lawsuit.
Are you thinking of filing an online defamation lawsuit? First, you’ll need to determine if you are dealing with defamation or just an unflattering opinion. To win a case, you must provethat public comments aren’t only false, but a statement of fact.
A review that says, “I was served a moldy muffin at The Flower Cafe” is a statement of fact, and if that statement is not true, it’s defamation. However, a review that states, “The server at The Flower Cafe was rude” is simply too vague and opinionated to qualify as defamation.
What Is Defamation?
The publication or broadcast of any libelous or slanderous statement about an individual or business that can be proven to be false and published with the intention of harming that entity's reputation is considered to be defamation. Online defamation is the publication of such statements made on any Internet based media including blogs, forums, websites, and even social networking websites. While many Internet users believe that they are free to say and do as they like while on the Internet, this is untrue and the same defamation laws and regulations stand for online defamation as they do in any form of media.
Acts And Laws That Govern Online Defamation
As social networking and blogging have become popular tools for Internet users to voice their opinion and get involved in discussions, online defamation cases have also been on the rise. While there are very few or no specific online defamation acts, libel lawsuits that cite the Communications Decency Act have been successfully been tried in courts around the world. Also, there are rumors that some countries around the world, especially the UK, are set to release specific online defamation laws that deal specifically with these laws.
The Communications Decency Act Of 1996
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was actually established to try and deal with the publication of pornography and other adult content freely and widely available on the Internet. However, it was also created in a bid to combat any indecent and defamatory content found on websites and other online publications.
Section 230 of the CDA is the section that is perhaps most relevant to online defamation. It attempts to deal with the question of an ISP's liability to content that is stored on their servers. Although it does not specifically outline all instances, it does contend that an ISP is not responsible for the information published by their users unless and until they are informed of any infringement; at this point, the ISP should act to remove the content or face legal action themselves.
Additionally, the statement must be public. Since most damaging statements are made on review sites or social media, they would count as public. But a private conversation between the business owner and individual does not count. However, “public” does not have to be widespread. If someone makes a false, damaging statement to a third party, it could be defamation.
In addition to these requirements, there are different standards for public and private figures, as well as knowledge that the statement is false. For specific details, it’s best to contact a qualified attorney.
Slander lawsuits are expensive and time consuming, but they can also be damaging. This is especially true if you’re suing a customer. So if you’re going to sue for online defamation, consider whether you can win and make sure it will be worth it.
You should also consider anti-SLAPP laws. Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) seek to silence free speech. Consequently, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff, so it difficult to win even if you’re in the right.
If you do sue and win, damages for defamatory statements can range from millions of dollars to nothing at all. Typically, damages are calculated based on actual injuries, such as lost income, lost earning capacity, personal humiliation, and of course, pain and suffering.
The Difficulties With Proving Defamatory Comments
Much of the difficulty that surrounds successfully winning an online defamation case is brought about because the plaintiff must first prove who the publisher or writer of the statement is and, secondly, that the statement is false and written with the intention of causing damage.
Tracing an individual that has posted a defamatory comment can prove very difficult. It is certainly possible to find out the details of a computer that was used to publish a statement or post content. However, if this is a public computer then it is almost impossible to narrow down the search in order to find the culprit. With Internet access being afforded to computers in Internet cafes, libraries, businesses, and other public areas, this makes it very difficult to find the source of the illegal content.
Section 230 Of The CDA And The ISP's Responsibility
ISPs are no longer considered to be responsible for the information that their users publish online. However, numerous court cases and other actions have led to ISPs being forced to remove content from their servers and even provide personal details including the IP address of known offenders. Some ISPs will act quickly to remove defamatory content from their servers because once informed of its existence they are also considered guilty of defamation to some degree.
While it is possible to sue for online defamation, it’s usually not a good idea except in extreme cases. For example, a single false review about a moldy muffin probably won’t cost you thousands in lost revenue. However, a calculated effort to spread false information about your business could create reputational risk. If a competitor publishes numerous fake reviews about you under different names, you should may need to take action.
Consequences of filing a defamation lawsuit
Whether you have a case or not, it’s important to understand that things might get worse before they get better. In the best-case scenario, you’ll quietly file and win your lawsuit, receive damages, and clear your name. But the reality may be much different.
When you start a defamation lawsuit, you may trigger “The Streisand Effect.” This is when an attempt to censor information actually amplifies it, and defamation suits are perfect examples of the phenomenon.
If you start such a lawsuit, the press will probably report on it. Unfortunately, that means you’ll have to remove more negative search results. If you win, you’ll be vindicated, and you can hope that the press clears your name. But in the meantime, if you take legal action, you could make matters worse.
If you’ve got a real case, you may be willing to take the risk, however. But if you lose, it could be even more difficult to repair your reputation.
Successful Lawsuits Gone Bad
The court case results only show a partial picture of the level of success that can be achieved. The ability to publicly recant a statement online is not the same as it is through other media and the libelous claims can still remain on the original website or blog. The statements may have also been published on other blogs and references on numerous other websites as well as being found in the cache of search engines. Success in court does not help to alleviate these problems and in some cases the problem has actually worsened.