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Defamation, Libel.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.021.0083
Item type: 
section
Truth is generally the best vindication against slander. Abraham Lincoln 1 Defamation is the act of harming another’s reputation by libel or slander and thereby exposing that person to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or financial loss.2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 Libel is false and negligent or malicious publication that involves words, pictures, or signs....

Defense Against Libel Suits and Claims.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0233
Item type: 
section
Truth is a defense against claims of libel in most cases (see 5.9, Defamation, Libel). Aside from consideration of the truth of damaging statements, some jurisdictions also consider whether damaging statements were made with intent to harm.3 (§5.09) As a result, editors should query authors about any statements that criticize or imply criticism of individuals or corporate entities and ask the authors to provide evidence or documentation to support such statements. If an editor is concerned about the risk vs benefit of publishing such statements, obtaining a legal review as part of the process of peer review is recommended. The legal review should be performed by an attorney with experience in media law. Even though legal review may result in delay and several requests for revision, it may help protect the editor and publisher from a libel claim. In addition, offering those criticized an opportunity to review the material before publication, if deemed appropriate by the editor, or to respond to the criticism after publication may reduce the risk of a successful claim....

Demands to Correct, Retract, or Remove Libelous Information.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0235
Item type: 
section
Demands to correct or retract allegedly libelous material should be handled carefully. Removal of libelous information in print is not possible, and the standard course of action has been to publish corrections or retractions in an expeditious and prominent manner.4 , 5 Online versions that are close in content and form to the printed version and online-only content should follow the same policies and procedures. Online archives, which are considered part of the original publication, may be corrected, edited, or removed, and continued posting of defamatory material in an online version of archive—without an appropriate correction or retraction—may increase the risk of liability for the author, editor, and publisher....

Groups of Individuals.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0228
Item type: 
section
Defamatory statements about groups of individuals are usually not legally actionable if the group is so large that no individual can be identified in the statements.3 , 5 , 7 For example, broad statements about specific groups (eg, physicians) or entities (eg, the pharmaceutical industry) are not at risk for libel actions because no single individual or company is identifiable....

Living Persons and Existing Entities.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0226
Item type: 
section
A statement generally cannot be libelous unless it is “of and concerning” a living person or existing entity (eg, corporation, institution, or organization).3 , 5 According to a 1992 case, Gugliuzza v KCMC, Inc, “once a person is dead, there is not extant reputation to injure or for the law to protect.”...

Minimizing the Risk of Libel.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0234
Item type: 
section
The suggestions in this section are offered to help authors, editors, and publishers reduce the risk of libel in biomedical publication. All statements of fact about individuals or commercial entities should be supported or documented and verified to be accurate in the context in which they were and are made. Similarly, statements of opinion should be supported or based on documented facts and should not be malicious. In addition, authors should disclose any conflicts of interest or concerns about the potential reactions of those criticized to the editor so that the editor and author work together to ensure responsible publication (...

Public and Private Figures.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0227
Item type: 
section
A public figure is a person who assumes a role of prominence in society, such as an elected official, a celebrity, or an infamous criminal. In cases of alleged libel, public figures are afforded less legal protection than private individuals.3 , 5 In a 1964 case, ...

Republication and News Reporting.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0232
Item type: 
section
A publication, author, or journalist can be held liable for republishing a defamatory statement. For example, if an author or journalist republished a defamatory statement about a public figure knowing that the statement was false, the publisher and author could be held liable. Similarly, if the republished false statement was about a private figure, the publisher and author could be held liable for defamation even if the statement was published without knowledge of its falsity (ie, through negligence). However, under the privileges of fair reporting an author or journalist may repeat a previously published defamatory statement if it is part of official proceedings (eg, formal governmental proceedings or press conference) as long as the account is fair and accurate....

Resources for Other Liability Concerns.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0236
Item type: 
section
There are other sources of information on legal and liability matters for publishers and editors that are beyond the scope of this manual. Perle, Williams & Fischer on Publishing Law,3 Internet Law: A Field Guide,4 and The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law...

Social Media.  

Annette Flanagin

in AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors (11th edn)

Print Publication Year: 
Feb 2020
Published Online: 
Feb 2020
DOI: 
10.1093/jama/9780190246556.003.0005.022.0230
Item type: 
section
Content published in social networking sites, blogs, and online discussion groups is subject to the same norms, standards, and regulations as is all other published and posted content. The Associated Press recommends caution in sharing content via social media and notes the following: “Because of the difficulty in verifying the authenticity of material posted on social media sites, it is important not simply to lift quotes, photos or video from social networking sites and attribute them to the domain or feed where the information was found”...

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