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Author Topic: those of you who know the law: slander and libel question about celebrities?  (Read 894 times)
Tom
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« on: October 04, 2012, 01:19:46 PM »

for those of you who know the law ( law degree, law experience, etcetera) i was just wondering something.

i was just reading online about a book that was published a couple of years ago where the author was forced to "omit" a story/situation/occurence/meeting with a celebrity because that particular celebrity's lawyers had heard about this and would and i guess did threaten this person with a lawsuit and suing them for slander?

the question i have is how can that happen and how does that work? what i mean is if the author is the one writing about this encounter, and the encounter was with this author and the celebrity themselves and if it did happen and is the truth, how can it be libel? what because it would be a he said, she said thing and since this author has/had no eye witnesses besides himself and no actual documented physical proof that legally this author would be just "spreading malicious lies"?

i would think if it was a he said, she said, each side has the same equal amount of power and thus this author, his lawyers and publishing company COULD GO AHEAD and print this information in this book if they truly wanted to, and it would be up to the actual reader to decide if they belief this information..

as it was this information like i said WAS OMITTED due to the legal fear of being sued by this celebrity and their lawyer's...

just wondering what the law and how this works! thanks in advance for the educated and intelligent replies!
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Agnostic007
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 11:35:54 AM »

Public Figures
Under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1964 Case, New York Times v Sullivan, where a public figure attempts to bring an action for defamation, the public figure must prove an additional element: That the statement was made with "actual malice". In translation, that means that the person making the statement knew the statement to be false, or issued the statement with reckless disregard as to its truth. For example, Ariel Sharon sued Time Magazine over allegations of his conduct relating to the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Although the jury concluded that the Time story included false allegations, they found that Time had not acted with "actual malice" and did not award any damages.

The concept of the "public figure" is broader than celebrities and politicians. A person can become an "involuntary public figure" as the result of publicity, even though that person did not want or invite the public attention. For example, people accused of high profile crimes may be unable to pursue actions for defamation even after their innocence is established, on the basis that the notoriety associated with the case and the accusations against them turned them into involuntary public figures.

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Agnostic007
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 11:38:47 AM »

written down in a book would be libel. Slander is spoken. Defense to the charge of libel would be that it is the truth. There is also the issue of did it cause real damage to the person. In your example, it appears the publishers didn't want to take a chance of a legal battle and opted to go the route without the story. People threaten to sue all the time, and the lawyer was likely bluffing. 
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