This article is written by Maritess Galingan
Defamation, does it ring a bell? This word haunts the entertainment industry and individuals, especially in this generation where the internet opened the gateway of access to every material limited only on television and newspapers in the past. The freedom that the internet gives to people of different ages to surf and smear others’ reputations is uncontrollably advanced that cyber securities cannot sift them as soon as they pop up on the world wide web. Hence, it became the biggest culprit to anybody who rises to stardom. It frequently causes a spiraling downfall of persons or businesses caught up by its firm grip.
What is Defamation?
Defamation is communicating to a third-party false statement about an individual that damage that individual’s reputation. It can be categorized into libel or slander. Libel is a written statement or other visible forms of damaging information without justification. At the same time, slander is a spoken form of a defamatory statement that often leads to the degradation of a person’s reputation and sometimes value.
Defamation constitutes untrue allegations in the media to rude comments on social media. When a person’s reputation is damaged by what was said or written about them, they may bring a lawsuit for defamation to defend themselves. The victim of defamation may claim damages against the person or firm that slandered or published the defamatory statement. The court may also order the defamatory materials to be removed from publication.
Why Famous People Are Targeted with Defamation Lawsuits?
Famous people are targeted with defamation lawsuits more than anybody else since they are the most visible people in society and have the biggest reputation at stake. One of the best examples is the defamatory case of the famous Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean – Johnny Depp, against his ex-wife Amber Heard. This began with an Op-ed written by Amber Heard and published by the Washington post in 2018. The post talks about sexual violence and domestic abuse by Amber Heard.
Though no name was mentioned in the Op-ed, other media institutions pointed to the then-husband of Amber Heard – Johnny Depp, as one being described in the said post. It spread like wildfire, and to which some news outlets branded him as a “wife beater.” Johnny Depp’s popularity was blanketed by hatred. The entertainment agency he worked with even asked him to resign. At the end of the trial held in Fairfax County, Virginia, from April 11, 2022, to June 1, 2022, the jury ruled that the Op-ed was false and defamed Depp with actual malice.
The Legal Consequences of Defamation
Defamation is considered a false statement that damages a person’s reputation. A defamed person will likely file a civil lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. A false statement can severely affect people with a high public profile. The law generally states that a person’s reputation may be harmed if another person makes a false statement about you that is likely to affect your earnings or your general reputation in society.
Defamation lawsuits can be very damaging to both the person being sued and the person filing the lawsuit. If the person being sued loses the case, the court can order that the person pay money to the other party as compensation for the damage to the person’s reputation.
Defamation And Its Effect
It is important to note that cases are a serious matter. In most cases, damages are awarded to the plaintiff based on the monetary loss they incurred by the false statement. This can range from harm to their reputation to the loss of future job prospects. In addition, lawsuits can harm people who rely on their public image for their livelihood.
For example, a false statement about a politician could cause the voting public to boycott their vote for him, or incorrect information about a celebrity musician could lead to declining engagements and ticket sales. In either case, the negative public attention could lead to a seriously unfavorable patch in their career.
It can also rip the celebrity’s future earnings. A false statement cannot be erased if it is connected to a celebrity’s character or attitude. It would hunt him even in the future. His future engagements would always be at stake, especially when a hint about it keeps resurfacing on social media platforms. If the public believes the false statements, they could choose not to support the celebrity. Unfortunately, some people bring lawsuits without gauging the effect it could get on the person or entity they are suing.
How Can You Protect Yourself from a Defamation Suit?
The best way to protect yourself from a lawsuit is to be mindful of what to say or publicize. You should refrain from uttering words that do not have a factual basis for the sake of attention. Also, writing emails, texts, and social media posts should be free from malicious interpretation. It is a very complex issue; many sections of the law determine whether a statement constitutes the characteristics of defamation.
There are also legal defenses to defamation which helps lawyers and judges. Hiring lawyers with expertise in defamation cases would be helpful if you are a candidate for defamation. It can be very costly, but there are steps that your lawyer may suggest to recover losses and protect your assets.
Defamation lawsuits can be devastating, even for people who are not famous. If you are considering filing a lawsuit, you should hire an attorney to represent you in court. You should contact an attorney immediately if you are accused of filing a false statement that leads to a defamation lawsuit. It is a serious matter and can negatively affect people’s careers. If you have been falsely accused of defamation, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.