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LEGAL DICTIONARY

Libel

Libel

Libel is a form of published defamation that causes damage to a person’s reputation.

It consists of the distribution or public sharing of untrue and defamatory information that claims to be factual by any of the following methods:

  • Written or printed words
  • Published photos or pictures
  • Spoken word and media broadcast

Understanding what does and doesn’t constitute libel can be essential before preparing important legal documents or getting ready to share published work in the public domain.

Whilst Libel is not a criminal offense, being accused or convicted of it can be carry steep penalties.

What Is and Isn’t Libel?

In the US, what is and isn’t libel can be hotly debated in court.

Libel is not simply used as a legal instrument to protect privacy, it is most often utilized when incorrectly researched or wrong information causes actual harm to someone.

However, information may be judged libelous if:

  • It has the intent to harm or is published due to actual malice
  • It purports to be truthful or accurate rather than opinion based
  • Potential harm could be or is caused to the person implicated

Examples of Libel

A common libel example that you might hear about is when a newspaper produces reports on a celebrity or company using information that is inaccurate or simply untrue.

For instance, a magazine reporting that a famous actor is having an affair based on unsubstantiated or untrue information. If this action subsequently harmed the actor’s professional and personal life the magazine could then be liable for libel and could be sued.

Another example might be if a publication or internet commentator accused a politician or public figure of a crime they didn’t commit. This claim would be open to a legal challenge by the person accused in the published work.

How Serious is Libel?

Libel is considered one of the most serious legal infractions in publishing and media.

Being accused and convicted of it can cause considerable damage to the public’s trust of the person or media organization sharing the information.

Not only that, the person or company sharing the information can be liable for substantial fines as well as the reputational damage.

It is however not a crime, rather it is a civil offense, that can lead a plaintiff to claim for compensation.

Libel Vs. Slander

Libel and slander are both types of defamation. However, there are some significant differences between them both.

Libel firstly involves the publication of information that is untrue and damaging in a written or tangible form.

Slander on the other hand is more abstract and focuses more on harmful information shared via spoken word or broadcast.

Helpful Resources:
Cornell Law - Libel

Libel

Libel is a form of published defamation that causes damage to a person’s reputation.

It consists of the distribution or public sharing of untrue and defamatory information that claims to be factual by any of the following methods:

  • Written or printed words
  • Published photos or pictures
  • Spoken word and media broadcast

Understanding what does and doesn’t constitute libel can be essential before preparing important legal documents or getting ready to share published work in the public domain.

Whilst Libel is not a criminal offense, being accused or convicted of it can be carry steep penalties.

What Is and Isn’t Libel?

In the US, what is and isn’t libel can be hotly debated in court.

Libel is not simply used as a legal instrument to protect privacy, it is most often utilized when incorrectly researched or wrong information causes actual harm to someone.

However, information may be judged libelous if:

  • It has the intent to harm or is published due to actual malice
  • It purports to be truthful or accurate rather than opinion based
  • Potential harm could be or is caused to the person implicated

Examples of Libel

A common libel example that you might hear about is when a newspaper produces reports on a celebrity or company using information that is inaccurate or simply untrue.

For instance, a magazine reporting that a famous actor is having an affair based on unsubstantiated or untrue information. If this action subsequently harmed the actor’s professional and personal life the magazine could then be liable for libel and could be sued.

Another example might be if a publication or internet commentator accused a politician or public figure of a crime they didn’t commit. This claim would be open to a legal challenge by the person accused in the published work.

How Serious is Libel?

Libel is considered one of the most serious legal infractions in publishing and media.

Being accused and convicted of it can cause considerable damage to the public’s trust of the person or media organization sharing the information.

Not only that, the person or company sharing the information can be liable for substantial fines as well as the reputational damage.

It is however not a crime, rather it is a civil offense, that can lead a plaintiff to claim for compensation.

Libel Vs. Slander

Libel and slander are both types of defamation. However, there are some significant differences between them both.

Libel firstly involves the publication of information that is untrue and damaging in a written or tangible form.

Slander on the other hand is more abstract and focuses more on harmful information shared via spoken word or broadcast.

Helpful Resources:
Cornell Law - Libel