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  Oracle Tips by Burleson

Web Stalkers
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 professional reputation”;

  • 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 social order.

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.

The above text is an excerpt from:

Web Stalkers
Protect yourself from Internet Criminals & Psychopaths
ISBN 0-97-45993-9-5

by Donald K. Burleson, Stephen Andert

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