LIBEL AND DEFAMATION

1) We must be careful when we pass comments or remarks about others, online or whatsoever, because people can sue us easily if they feel that their reputation are affected or that our comments and remarks are embarrassments in the public eyes, or that they are defamatory in nature.

2) This seems to be especially so when we pass comments or remarks about people who have the financial means to carry out such litigation process – they can very well afford it. Thus, if we can’t match these people financially, it is suggested that all the more we should be careful.

3) Such litigation cases are always interesting to follow, because usually high profile figures were being involved, and the press and media would usually report it. There again, if the affected person is not of high profile with substantial standing in the society, then he probably would see no need to mount any cases with the courts.

4) The press and the media can often continue to report on the litigation cases and sometimes revealing the juicier aspects of them, but the defendants are not allowed to continue to share their views on the matter as they can risk compounding the damages against them. Effectively, it may not be wrong to say that the defendant is gagged.

5) One may argue that the complainant must have been very much affected badly by the defendants’ comments and remarks such that he took to the courts, so that the defendant can no longer continue to proliferate those comments and statements.

6) Ironically, sometimes the wide media and press coverage on the cases actually make more people aware of the issue. For example, an alleged defamatory comment about a high profile man was circulating in the cyberspace by a netizen. Then the high profile man decides to mount a court case. The media and the press will report it because it involves that high profile personality. By then, even those who do not use the Internet will get to know the issue on the mainstream media.

7) So essentially, the court cases sort of mean that the alleged defamatory issues in the Internet are now “shared” with the mainstream media audiences via mainstream reporting. This has been seen a few times especially since the widespread use of the cyberspace in recent years. So I am sure potential complainants will get to see this more clearly as more cases happen.

8 ) So eventually, a question will pop up – in the age of cyberspace, where some cases are mounted against alleged defamatory comments made online, is it the intention of the complainant to stop the proliferation of the comments (is it possible?), or is it mainly to gag and nail the defendant. This is interesting to think about.

9) The Judicial system is a mainstream and national institution, and so any high profiles cases brought to its attention will almost always garner the interest and attention of the press and media. The cyberspace is more of an alternative means for people to express their views. Any high profile court cases mounted from happenings in the cyberspace, will carry the possibility of being covered by the mainstream media.

10) Perhaps potential complainants seeking to protect their reputation from alleged defamatory comments and statements made online, can give some thoughts to this?

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