July 02, 2009

Defamation & Online Slander Lawsuits: Cases Against Bloggers On The Rise

An out of work real estate agent, who blogged about Anna Nicole Smith, was jailed for not turning over her computer in an online defamation case brought about by Ms. Smith’s mother, Virgie Arthur.  Lyndal Harrington is accused of spreading lies that Ms. Arthur married her stepbrother and abused Ms. Smith as a child.  When court ordered Harrington to turn over her computer or face incarceration, she told the Court that the computer had been stolen during a burglary less than a week after being subpoenaed. 

Defamation and online slander lawsuits against bloggers are ever increasing, with rather large judgments being awarded for defamation, copyright infringement and/or invasion of privacy.  Bloggers don’t realize that they could be considered publishers in many courts in our country.  State laws vary on what constitutes defamation, libel, and slander, and who qualifies as a journalist and who can protect sources. Judges have consistently applied the same standards to online blogs as they would any other medium of expression.  Be very careful about what you “publish” on your blog as it could come back and bite you.


Defamation is a catchall phrase which refers to both libel and slander. Slander defamation is spoken. On the Internet, this usually means someone posted the defamatory statement in the video or audio file. Defamation libel is written defamation. This by far is the most common form of the Internet defamation because it is so easy to post text on any website through a comment or other post.

Slander defamation is when someone speaks about you in a defamatory way, as opposed to written defamation which is libel.

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