Publication and Libel Lawyers

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What is Publication?

Publication is the delivery or announcement of a defamatory statement to another person.  In the case of libel, that means the defamatory statement was used in print, such as a book, pamphlet, or newspaper.  Publication is not the process of putting the defamatory statement into print, but the act of making the statement known to someone other than the person being injured by the defamation.

When Does Publication Occur?

Generally, publication occurs once a single individual sees or hears the defamatory statement.  However, America has a long history of protecting free speech when it is printed in books, pamphlets, and newspapers.  As a result, courts will sometimes require more action than just the act of seeing a defamatory statment in print to determine when publication occurs because of the First Amendment protections the printed word can have.  Some courts have required that the time of publication in a libel case occurs in one of the following instances:

Generally, a private letter will not require such additional actions to satisfy the publication requirement of libel.  This is generally because a private letter is not given the same First Amendment protections as a book, pamphlet, or newspaper.

Why Does the Time of Publication Matter for my Libel Case?

The exact time of publication can be very important in a libel case.  Generally, the time of publication will have an effect on a libel case in two ways:

  1. Statute of Limitations - Depending on when the publication of a defamatory statement took place, that is when the period of limitations begins to run.  Knowing the exact time of publication can be very important if a statute of limitations is at issue.
  2. Damages - The time of publication can have a large impact on the damages a defamed person can recover.  Generally speaking, the earlier the date of publication, the more damages a person has suffered.

Do I Need an Attorney to Handle my Publication and Libel Issue?

If you believe you are the target of libel, or you are being sued for libel, and the time of publication is becoming an issue, it is highly recommended that you contact either a personal injury or Constitutional law attorney.  Only an attorney will be able to explain the relevant issues, help determine when the publication took place, and assist in defending your rights.

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Last Modified: 12-21-2010 12:03 PM PST

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