A method of defamation expressed by print, writing, pictures, or signs. In its most general sense, any publication that is injurious to the reputation of another. A false and unprivileged publication in writing of defamatory material. Bright v. Los Angeles Unified School Dist, 51 Cal.App.3d 852, 124 Cal.Rptr. 598, 604.
A maliciously written or printed publication which tends to blacken a person's reputation or to expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, or to injure him in his business or profession. Corabi v. Curtis Pub. Co., 441 Pa. 432, 273 A.2d 899, 904.
Accusation in writing or printing against the character of a person which affects his reputation, in that it tends to hold him up to ridicule, contempt, shame, disgrace, or obloquy, to degrade him in the estimation of the community, to induce an evil opinion of him in the minds of rightthinking persons, to make him an object of reproach, to diminish his respectability or abridge his comforts, to change his position in society for the worse, to dishonor or discredit him in the estimation of the public, or his friends and acquaintances, or to deprive him of friendly intercourse in society, or cause him to be shunned or avoided, or where it is charged that one has violated his public duty as a public officer. Almost any language which upon its face has a natural tendency to injure a man's reputation, either generally or with respect to his occupation. Washer v. Bank of America Nat. Trust & Savings Ass'n, 21 Cal.2d 822, 136 P.2d 297, 300.
States are free to fashion their own law of defamation of a private person so long as they do not impose liability without fault. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 347, 94 S.Ct. 2997, 3010, 41 L.Ed.2d 789.
There can be no presumption of malice or bad faith consistent with freedom of the press under First Amend., U.S.Const. if plaintiff is a public figure. Malice must be proved on a showing that defendant published material either knowing it to be false or recklessly without regard as to whether it is true or false. N. Y. Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686.
See also actionable per quod
- actionable per se
- innocent construction rule;
- obscene libel;
- single publication rule;
- trade libel
Compare slander.
Constitutional privilege
Prior to New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964), media comment on the conduct of public officials or public figures was free from liability for libel only in certain limited circumstances, usually difficult to prove at trial. If a statement of fact was involved, it had to be substantially true; if a comment or opinion was involved, it had to be based on true facts which fully and fairly justified the comment or opinion.
The United States Supreme Court, however, in a series of decisions beginning with New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, imposed constitutional limitations on State libel laws, based upon the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. In New York Times, the Supreme Court eroded the prior common law libel standard of strict liability, holding that misstatements of fact or unjustified comments or opinions published by the media about the conduct of public officials were constitutionally privileged, unless the false or unjustified material was published with "actual malice," i.e., with actual knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard of probable falsity. By requiring a public official plaintiff to prove actual malice on the part of defendant, the burden of proving that the material was false was shifted to plaintiff, contrary to the common law rule which presumed falsity.
@ group libel
The holding up of a group to ridicule, scorn or contempt to a respectable and considerable part of the community. The plaintiff must prove that he is a member of the group. Pleadings. Formerly, the initiatory pleading in an admiralty action, corresponding to the declaration, bill or complaint. Since 1966 the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Supp. Admiralty Rules have governed admiralty actions and as such, admiralty actions are now commenced by complaint

Black's law dictionary. . 1990.


Look at other dictionaries:

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