When it comes to defamation, people need to know exactly what it is and how it applies to them in particular. In New York, local law can make it even more complicated to understand, so having a comprehensive understanding of what can and cannot be said in print or spoken words can create a better understanding of what legally constitutes defamation. Whether you are a business attorney working on behalf of a client, or an executive who needs help understanding the legal ramifications of defamation, it is important to learn what New York’s legal standards are in this regard. Here is an overview of the top 5 things to consider with regards to defamation definition and New York local regulations.

1. Defamation Definition

The first thing to consider is the definition of defamation. Defamation is any statement or communication that results in damage to a person’s reputation. This can include slander or libel. A statement is defamatory if it impacts a person’s reputation in a damaging or negative way, whether it is an allegation of an act, trait or opinion. The statement must be false, but its impact on the person’s reputation is all that matters; the truth is simply immaterial in this case.

2. Consider Sources

The source of the statement is also important to consider. In New York, the source can be an individual or a business entity. These sources can include publishers, broadcast and radio platforms, newspapers, magazines, websites, television shows, and more. A person or entity making a defamatory statement can be held civilly liable for damage done to the reputation of the person or business.

3. Recognize Defamatory Statements

When determining whether or not a statement is defamatory, you must consider the context in which it was made and how it was disseminated. A statement can be considered defamatory if it is presented with an intention to cause harm or demonstrate malice. The type of statement should also be taken into account. For example, an opinion may not be considered defamation, but a statement of fact could potentially be considered defamatory.

4. Understand Available Defenses

There are certain defenses available to defend a defamatory statement. In New York, truth may be an absolute defense. Both the New York state court system and the U.S. Supreme Court have determined that truth is a complete defense to a defamation claim. Aside from truth, a person making a statement can also claim a privilege, which merely means that they are exempt from having to suffer a liability for the statement. A qualified privilege may apply the defense of truth, if the statement is made with a good faith belief of the facts it contains.

5. Utilize Legal Help When Needed

If you are unsure about the legal ramifications of a statement or how potential defamation may apply, it is always best to consult with a business attorney experienced in this area. Business attorneys, like those available through UpCounsel, have the experience and knowledge necessary to help navigating unfamiliar waters. With their help, you can rest assured that you are receiving the best possible advice for your situation.

Defamation can be a complicated subject to understand, especially when it comes to New York local regulation. Knowing the five things discussed can provide a better understanding of what amounts to a defamatory statement, as well as what defenses may be available in the case of defamation. From truth as a defense to recognizing the type of statement, utilizing the help of experienced business attorneys can guide any executive successfully through the murky waters of New York local law.


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