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If I write something defamatory, will a retraction help?

If I write something defamatory, will a retraction help?

Some jurisdictions have retraction statutes that provide protection from defamation lawsuits if the publisher retracts the allegedly defamatory statement.

For example, in California, a plaintiff who fails to demand a retraction of a statement made in a newspaper or radio or television broadcast, or who demands and receives a retraction, is limited to getting “special damages” ? the specific monetary losses caused by the libelous speech.

While few courts have addressed retraction statutes with regard to online publications, a Georgia court denied punitive damages based on the plaintiff’s failure to request a retraction for something posted on an Internet bulletin board. (See Mathis v. Cannon)

If you get a reasonable retraction request, it may help you to comply. The retraction must be “substantially as conspicuous” as the original alleged defamation.

Generally, defamation is a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice. State laws often define defamation in specific ways. Libel is a written defamation; slander is a spoken defamation.

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