Sunday, August 16, 2020

"Publish And Be Damned" (Of Sensational Defamation)

Dishing the dirt does not always pay. Those who do not know History are doomed to repeat it.

"Publish and be damned," is believed to have been the first Duke of Wellington's response to literary blackmail. He was offered the opportunity to pay heftily to have a chapter about his extra-marital sexual exploits omitted from a tell-all series.

Brian Cathcart tells the scurrilous tale.

Modern day legal bloggers, Patrick Considine,  Peter Bartlett, and Dean Levitan writing for Minter Ellison reflect on the current state of sensational defamation and suggest four lessons for publishers (media companies), following a major lawsuit which resulted in the largest defamation payout to a single person in Australian history.

See here:

So much for blackmail, and scurrilous scandal that may or may not be approximately accurate, at least as regards His Grace. It boggles the mind why writers of fiction would both "date" their work and expose themselves to the risk of a lawsuit by mentioning a living person, even a celebrity (known to have fewer rights in America) in an unflattering context.

Ron Charles, writing for The Washington Post reports on one such instance in particular, and several recent instances in general.

Ron's article is a jolly good read, with a nod and a wink to the Odyssey and to Shakespeare's Historical Plays, and also to Walt Disney's famous water fowl, an actor or two, and current and former politicians.

Talking of Hollywood, legal blogger Toni Oncidi for Proskauer Rose LLP notes that publishing Hollywood actors' full birth dates is perfectly acceptable.

In these days of rampant identity theft, it seems wrong to this writer that birthdays can be exploited against the wishes of the celebrity... but no doubt it's good for LifeLock. For those not being exploited and exposed by IMBD and its like, many of those "person-locator sites" are required by law to remove information upon request, but they don't make it easy to find out how.

Try reading all the way through Terms Of Use or Terms Of Service, or Contact Us, or Privacy Policy, and legitimately scurrilous sites will have an explanation of users' opt out rights.

Be watchful, also, about the information you provide for "two factor id" on sites such as Twitter.

According to legal blogger Jenny L. Colgate, writing for Rothwell Figg's Privacy Zone blog, Twitter has been exploiting that supposedly super private data and sharing it with advertisers.

All the best,
Rowena Cherry 

PS. Apologies for the late "Publish". Thunderstorms, power cuts, loss of internet is the reason.

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