People have a right to free speech, but that doesn’t include a right to ruin someone’s reputation by publishing false statements or defaming someone publicly. Defamation is damaging, and nobody deserves to suffer the harmful personal or professional effects of the gossip mill.

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Defending Defamation

The defense of a reputation is important to you, to us, and to the entire country. It is essential to draw the fine line between defamation and what can be truthfully spoken or published. In a country that defends free speech and free discussion, it is the right of each person to state opinions and have discussions; however, it becomes illegal when false information is verbally spread (slander) or published (libel) and it harmfully impacts another person or business.

Traditional Defamation

Throughout history, there have been instances of defamation that take many different forms. Spoken defamation, also known as slander, may have happened if a restaurant owner down the street walked into your restaurant during the dinner rush and whispered to the customers that there are pet feces in the food. There may be no validation to this statement, but it can damage the success of your business that night as people rush out.

Another example of defamation is libel, a written and published statement that is false. One such famous example is the 1964 case New York Times Company v. Sullivan in which the New York Times was sued for publishing a false advertisement about voting for a city commissioner in Montgomery, Alabama. Originally, Sullivan won $500,000 because there were no facts proving the ad to be true. However, in true legal fashion, the case was pursued. The final result of the case ended in favor of the New York Times Company because it could not be proven that the author of the advertisement purposefully and maliciously published false information. Wow – defamation cases can be confusing!

Digital Defamation

In today’s age, defamation and libel don’t just come in the form of public address or a written statement in the local paper. Defamation can take to the Internet, and as you may have seen with the latest viral videos about kitty cats, these stories can spread to millions in just a few hours.

A company’s online presence is essential today, and for the most part it is a truthful and realistic representation of the business itself. However, there are far less filters for a malicious attacker to combat if he or she wants to publicly publish something defaming on the Web. Whether it is a competitor talking smack about your business, a former employee posting trade secrets on social media, or a news organization publishing false information about you or your establishment, you deserve peace and restored integrity from this libel.

Take Action

Whether you were the victim of traditional or digital defamation, you do not have to sit there and take it. There are defamation laws in place to protect individuals and businesses from this type of reputation harm. Defamation is not considered a crime, but rather a civil wrong. If you believe your reputation has been damaged by defamation via libel or slander, please request a free consultation with our lawyers at Girvin & Ferlazzo in Albany using the form below.