What Is Defamation?

Defamation is false and unprivileged spoken words or written publication, which exposes any living person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or which causes him/her to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him/her in his/her trade or occupation.

For example, if a person or the news media says or writes something about you that is understood to lower your reputation, or that keeps people from associating with you, defamation has occurred. However, if someone says something false about someone who has died, as reprehensible as that may be, in most states it is not considered defamatory. No legal action can be taken on behalf of a dead person. Only a living person can be defamed.

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