Libel in the blogosphere
Glenn Reynolds wonders aloud whether the Maine blogger dustup (UPDATE: suit withdrawn!) will generate some interest in his new “libel in the blogosphere” article. Well, what is LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION if not an obsequious devotee of Instapundit, who has been known to link here on a frequency akin to when we change the clocks?
I haven’t read the piece yet, but I will. The fact is that as an Internet law icon myself (that is typed with appropriate irony), I get a lot of inquiries on this topic (besides my pro bono work with the Media Bloggers Association on cases like the Maine situation). I anticipate that his bottom line will be the same one I tell 99% of prospective defamation clients:
- You haven’t suffered, and certainly can’t prove, damages.
- You’re highly unlikely to meet the legal standards for defamation, especially since (a) truth is a complete defense to a defamation claim and (b) statements of opinion (which is read very broadly) are never defamation, which requires a false assertion of what purports to be fact.
- You can’t afford litigation, and no, you’re not entitled to attorneys’ fees in the unlikely event that you do win.
- Your lawsuit will mainly serve to magnify “defamatory” statements that otherwise are little more than drops in the ocean — if it involves the Internet, immensely so.
But then, Prof. Reynolds has footnotes. And a gazillion readers. But I have [used to have] polka dots along the margins!