Dealing with defamation, libel, and slander from someone in person is bad enough. Having to deal with it online from someone hiding behind a fake name is extremely frustrating. In either case, proving these claims is difficult, although not impossible. If you have been targeted for one reason or another, you need to first understand what these terms mean. From there, you can determine if you need to hire a reputable attorney.
Defamation, Libel, and Slander
Libel and slander are types of defamation. Defamation is not actually a crime but a tort. This means that it is a civil wrong as opposed to a criminal wrong. By definition, defamation occurs when someone’s reputation has been damaged. In written form, defamation is referred to as “libel,” but when spoken, it is known as “slander.”
The greatest challenge with defamation is proving that damage was actually done. After all, people have freedom of speech. Therefore, they are legally permitted to post opinions and facts, even if they are damaging. However, if the comments are written or spoken with the intent of causing damage to a person or a person’s business, then it becomes bona fide defamation.
For one reason or another, some people think the internet is a free-for-all, a place where anything goes; in reality, that is not the case. Especially considering there are millions of people who use the internet for business and personal reasons, lies in the form of defamation can leave a person to deal with major repercussions.
In a defamation case, a culprit can use two basic defenses. The first is that the statement made was absolutely true. The second is that the statement was an opinion. The law does not recognize either of these as qualifying as defamation.
If lies are being spread about you personally or about your business, you should first contact the website where the statements are posted and demand their removal. If possible, find out who made the statements. Unfortunately, many people who defame remain anonymous. If you cannot identify the culprit, you should hire an attorney who deals with defamation, libel, and slander cases. To start the litigation process, your attorney can file a Doe complaint. This provides your attorney access to the discovery process. As part of that, the perpetrator’s IP address is subpoenaed. Of course, the internet service provider can also be subpoenaed to identify the individual.
Once the person behind the statements is identified, your attorney can send out a cease and desist letter, which firmly and clearly tells the individual to remove all defamatory statements, comments, and posts as well as stop making new claims. If the person fails to comply, your attorney can then file a lawsuit on your behalf. Before doing so, it is important to weigh the cost of litigation against damages to make sure a lawsuit is a good decision financially.
Remember, you have a right to protect your personal and business reputation. With a qualified attorney in your corner, you will be successful in seeking justice.