Before contacting us about a defamation issue, please note that in order for us to help you must be a resident of Illinois, the statement or post in question must have been made in the past year, and it must contain a false statement of fact (see below).
What is defamation?
Defamation is a false statement of fact about another person that harms his or her reputation. This statement does not need to be made to a large group of people; making such a statement to just one other person (other than the person being defamed) can be defamation. There are two types of defamation: libel (written), which includes statements written on social media or website comment sections, and slander (spoken), which includes statements in videos or audio recordings.
What is a “false statement of fact”?
A false statement of fact is a false statement that can be proven true or false – e.g. “John stole my computer from my house,” or “Mary had an affair with the boss to get her promotion” – and which a reasonable person, in the context provided, would understand as being asserted as a true and verifiable statement. Obviously, if a statement is true, it cannot be defamatory.
Opinions, even if they reflect negatively on someone, are protected by the First Amendment and are not defamatory. However, just calling a false statement of fact an opinion is not enough to gain First Amendment protection. If someone says, “Based on the evidence, in my opinion, it’s clear that John stole my computer from my house,” then a court may determine that, because the speaker claimed to have evidence backing up his or her statement, that her or she were actually making a statement of fact. If that statement is false and hurts John’s reputation, then the speaker could still be liable for defamation.
What should I do if I am sued for defamation for a statement I made or would like to bring forth litigation for defamatory statements made against me?
We can help. The basics of defamation law are the same for online defamation as they are for normal written or spoken defamation, but there are also technical and legal issues specific to online defamation. It is helpful to have an attorney who understands the technical issues surrounding the use of defamation on the internet, such as IP address retrieval, the Communications Decency Act, ISP provider responsibilities, et cetera. Saper Law attorneys have experience dealing with all forms of defamation. Additionally, we have experience in assisting clients with online reputation management and have defended victims in revenge porn litigation.