If you have been libeled, you can sue for damages. Libel is the publication of false or defamatory statements about another-which could be a person, an institution, or a company. Traditionally, the courts have distinguished between slander-which is a comment that appears in a transitory form, such as speech-and libel, which is published.

False information about you on myspace.com, eBay, chat rooms, forums or other web spaces?

While some types of online communication might seem like speech-for example, chatting-it’s more likely that a charge of libel would apply. The test is generally whether the comments appear in a fixed form that others can see, which means that anything posted on a web page, in a newsgroup, or even in a public chat could qualify as libel.

For comments about an individual to be libelous, they must: (1) be false and (2) injure that person’s reputation. However, the courts have established that different standards apply to comments made about public figures and public officials. In those cases, the statements have to be made with “actual malice” (or knowledge that they’re false) to be considered libelous. Also, comments that are clearly made in the context of a parody are not considered libel.

Defamation of a company or its products is referred to as product disparagement or trade libel, and it’s much harder to prove than libel about an individual. A company must show actual damages-such as a loss of business-to win a libel case, while individuals must only show that their reputation has been damaged.
In general, truth is the best defense against libel claims.

See also…

Internet Law – Forum

Attorneys, Courts, Litigation

International Law Issues