||Oracle Tips by Burleson
Chapter 5 -
All About Cybercrime
Note: This is a literature review
prepared by a non-lawyer and this research may not be construed as
legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice of qualified
attorneys, consult your local Bar Association, not these web pages.
See these pages for more details.
Libel and Defamation on the Web
Libel laws were first instituted in England to
provide honorable men with an alternative to dueling. The practice
had been outlawed, but it still continued to flourish in certain
circles. There are several criteria for Libel:
The statements are false;
The statements “were made maliciously and
intentionally with full knowledge of their falsity or in
complete and reckless disregard of their truth or falsity, for
the purpose of injuring and destroying a personal and
The person “acted with actual malice”.
To be defamatory, the statement must be clearly
stated as a fact, appear believable, and the statement must rise to
the level that an ordinary person would think less of the victim as
a person. Traditionally, the courts have used the standard of a
horrible illness (AIDS, Venereal Disease) as an example of
statements that defame.
The Courts have the right to restrict speech if
the speech constitutes “Fighting Words.” Fighting Words means
speech usually intended to be a personal insult and directed to a
specific person, which by their very utterance inflict injury and
tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. Fighting Words are
not protected under the First Amendment because their slight social
value is outweighed by the government’s compelling interest in
Remember, some states allow filing civil
charges against someone who commits defamation, even if the
statement is true. Under the false light invasion of privacy
laws, a court judgment can be won against anyone who publicly
discloses embarrassing facts with malicious intent.
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