Centre for Communication Governance at NLU delhi
Defamation and SLAPP Suits

D. Mark Jackson, The Corporate Defamation Plaintiff in the Era of SLAPPs: Revisiting New York Times v Sullivan, 9(2) William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 491 (2001)

Following a survey of the history of defamation law and the protection of free speech, this Note argues that corporations should be treated as per se public figures in defamation suits. This derives from the uniquely public nature of a corporation and an assumption of the risk of defamatory falsehoods that arises from the act of incorporation. Treating corporations in this manner would place a heavier burden on corporations by requiring a showing of actual malice in their defamation claims. This Note concludes that such a requirement would provide a better balance between corporations’ defamation concerns and their opponents' free speech rights.

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Joshua R. Furman, Cybersmear or Cyber-SLAPP: Analyzing Defamation Suits Against Online John Does as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, 25 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 213 (2001)

This Comment surveys the law of cyber-smear, illustrating the paradigmatic issues and legal theories employed. Then, it discusses the free speech issues and theoretical bases argued in court and legal journals, paying special attention to the shortcomings in current protection of defendant anonymity. Next, it examines the value of online anonymity and the protections that the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) theory offers. Finally, given the breakdown in the public and private space dichotomy, this Comment argues for a new understanding of the SLAPP constitutional protections in cyberspace.

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John P. Trende, Defamation, Anti-SLAPP Legislation and the Blogosphere: New Solutions for an Old Problem, 44 Duquesne Law Review 608 (2006) [Restricted Access]

This article discusses the threat faced by bloggers from defamation law suits. It argues that little has been done to protect a small-scale blogger who faces the high costs of litigation, even if the published content is true or if the comments were made by others on the blogger’s blog or message board. This Article suggests a federal statute ought to be adopted to protect speakers from such SLAPP suits.  Such anti-SLAPP laws could serve as a powerful deterrent against groundless suits.

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