A Quick Summary of Libel and Slander Law

Defamation Attorneys


This following video provides a very nice summary of defamation law. The person on the video never identifies himself, and I don’t know if he is even an attorney, but he provides an accurate summary of defamation law, both libel and slander.

However, I disagree with his statement that defamation litigation needs to be costly. Depending on the nature of the action, we can obtain results at a relatively low cost. If you have been defamed, or are being sued for allegedly defaming someone else, call Morris & Stone for a free telephone consultation, at (714) 954-0700. We also have extensive experience with SLAPP law, which often goes hand-in-hand with any defamation action. If you are unfamiliar with SLAPP law, go to our site California SLAPP Law for more information.

Here’s another YouTube video discussing defamation.  The video keeps making the point that you need to hire an attorney.  Actually, that’s not true.  Defamation cases can be complicated, especially those involving defamation on the Internet.  But some defamation cases are perfectly suited for small claims court, as I explain below.

If you are not in a position to retain counsel for your defamation action, here are some excellent self-help legal guides to help you through the process.  Most of our defamation actions involve defamation on the Internet.  If that is your situation, this is an excellent resource:

If your problem arises from Internet defamation, you must fight that problem on two fronts. First, go after the person who is defaming you. By identifying who is defaming you (with our business clients we often find out it is a competitor) and calling them out, that is often enough to get the defamatory content removed.

The second front is to take more control of your on-line presence. When you check Yelp for a restaurant review, do you avoid the restaurant if there are 20 great reviews and one bad review? Probably not. We all recognize that even the best restaurant or other business cannot make every customer happy. Besides, as I stated, we also realize that a bad review may not even be coming from a legitimate customer. So, with 20 good reviews and one bad review, you still go and enjoy the restaurant.

Yelp Reviews

But what if there is one bad review and no good reviews? Or five bad reviews and seven good reviews? Now things are getting dicey, and rather than to risk it, you’d likely move onto the next restaurant.  How, then, do you get enough positive reviews to dilute the bad ones?

Don’t fake your own positive reviews; that’s not much better than the trolls that post fake bad reviews.  However, you can encourage your customers to post reviews, and if they liked you or your business, hopefully the review will be a good one. Yelp, for example, claims that they do not want you to encourage good reviews, but at the same time the provide signs and stickers that encourage reviews.

While your customers are out there flooding the Internet with wonderful things about you, your job, even if you never go after the person who defamed you, and even if no one has defamed you yet, is to cultivate your own PR machine. The more information you can put on the Internet about you and/or your business, the more you dilute the false comments that will probably be posted at some point.  Again, nothing made up, but tout all your accomplishments as a business or person.  Did you add a handicapped parking spot in front of your business, or plant new rose bushes?  Sounds like blog worthy material to me.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a key component to managing your on-line presence, and Ranking #1 – 50 Essential SEO Tips To Boost Your Search Engine Results is one of the best guides I have found to maximizing your SEO results.

The perfect companion guide to Ranking #1 is Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management: A Step-By-Step Guide To Building Or Repairing Your Online Reputation.  Whereas Ranking #1 is a very detailed guide to SEO, Do It Yourself Online Reputation Management applies those SEO techniques to the specific issue of on-line reputation repair and protection.  Stated another way, the first book will tremendously amplify the effectiveness of the second.

I also really like:

On the other hand, maybe you are the victim of defamation off the Internet.  A co-worker, hoping to steal your corner office at work, is spreading the false rumor that he caught you snorting cocaine in the men’s room.  There’s a very efficient remedy for these types of actions.

Despite what some court clerks might tell you, defamation actions can be brought in small claims court. Don’t look down your nose at the power of a small claims action.  The damage limit in California was recently raised to $10,000, and that’s nothing to sneeze at (I seem to have a nose theme going here).

There are some very big pluses to bringing a defamation action in small claims court.  Read my two articles, which you will find at How to Stop Defamation When You Can’t Afford an Attorney.

The disadvantage to small claims court is that it is a cattle-call.  If you’ve ever watched People’s Court or Judge Judy, then you see how fast it moves and how both sides feel like they did not get to tell their side of the story.  In the real world, it is much worse.  You will have about one minute to put on your case, so make sure you know what you are doing. Here is an outstanding book that will put you head and shoulders above the other side, and improve your chances of winning about 20 fold.

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