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Defamation of a celebrity

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Allison

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I have two questions about defamation liability. If I'm quoting what another person said
about someone -- am I still liable for it?

If the negative quotes are about a celebrity who already has a reputation
for being crazy and difficult to work with...does that lessen the risk I'm taking
in publishing them?
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

First, you need to get permission to quote the other person.

Second, I'm not sure that you would be liable for passing along what the other person said, but I'm not a lawyer. You'd be wise to get an expert opinion, not an off-the-internet opinion.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

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To the best of my knowledge: if you publish it, you are liable for it and are considered just as responsible as the person from whom the statement originated. The only exception would be if the original statement came from a source, such as an official police report, that is protected under a legal act - but that will vary from country to country.
 

WeaselFire

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I have two questions about defamation liability.

1) Ask a lawyer. Preferably the one who will defend you if needed.

2) If you're writing for Rolling Stone, ignore the first answer.

:)

Jeff
 

Twick

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Laws about defamation vary from country to country, so it's not an easy question to answer. In general, even if you're quoting another person, the statement should appear such that a reasonable person could believe it was true. If Joe the Wino tells you that the Kim Kardashian is a shapeshifting alien, and you publish that as if you believe it to be true, that could be defamation.

You'd need at least one other source for confirmation :evil.
 

noirdood

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The Supremes (mostly, guys in long black dresses, but three ladies, too) ruled a while ago that opinion is not slander. As in, "in my opinion Fat Little Donnie is bonkers."
It's hard in the US of A to get nailed for slander of a celebrity. In my opinion by becoming a celeb, a person squanders part of her/his right to privacy, under the law.
In Europe they treasure privacy over free speech. In France a newspaper has to get permission from a celeb to run their photo. But not over here. Over here you cannot slander a dead person so say what you will about Attila the Hun.
 

GregFH

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I have two questions about defamation liability. If I'm quoting what another person said
about someone -- am I still liable for it?

If the negative quotes are about a celebrity who already has a reputation
for being crazy and difficult to work with...does that lessen the risk I'm taking
in publishing them?

You haven't said where you're located, or where you'd be republishing the other person's comment, so that makes it impossible to give you any clear guidance. As has been pointed out, defamation laws vary considerably from nation to nation.
In the U.S., generally speaking: (1) to defame what the law calls a "public figure", which would include most celebrities, you have to say something that is factually false and do so with "actual malice", which means either you know the statement is false or you published with reckless disregard as to whether it's true or false; (2) a statement of pure opinion is not actionable, but an opinion that can be reasonably interpreted to imply a false fact is; and (3) if the initial publication of a statement is actionable, you can be liable for republishing it unless you have either (a) a legal "privilege", for example, you're testifying in court or you're a reporter relying on a public document or official, or (b) the authorization of the original publisher, for example, if you interview someone and he/she says "you can quote me on that".
It's relatively easy to research theses issues on the web. A lot of attorneys and law firms have posted pretty good discussions of the law in an effort to demonstrate their expertise and to attract clients.
All that being said, as with any legal case, the likely outcome can be very fact specific, and this is not legal advice (especially since you've given so few facts). Check with a lawyer in the jurisdiction(s) where you publication will appear.
 

Old Hack

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We cannot give you legal advice, because we are not lawyers. You need to consult with an appropriately-qualified lawyer to find out the definitive answer, and should not rely on stuff that a bunch of internet people say.

Another thing you should realise is that while remaining within the law provides you with reasonable protection against being convicted of breaking the law, it does not provide you with any protection against being sued for anything. People will sue for all sorts of things. You can't protect yourself against that.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away