When you think of legal issues with which marketing companies must contend, intellectual property and false advertising usually come to mind. But as the world becomes ever more interconnected, online defamation is quickly becoming a major issue for web development and marketing firms.
So, let’s review some marketing defamation basics.
Libel and slander are oft-threatened legal actions, but a lot of people confuse disparagement with defamation. The former is legal, the latter is not. What is the difference between disparagement and defamation? In a word: opinion. When one person disparages another person or business, he or she is normally expressing their unflattering – though often passionate — opinion. Defamation, however, deals with, as Stephen Colbert would say, “truthiness.” To win a defamation lawsuit, a marketing libel plaintiff would have to prove:
1) That the trash talking entity made an unprivileged false statement of fact about you or your marketing company;
2) That the statement in question caused your marketing business’ reputation to suffer; and
3) That your marketing company experienced some sort of loss because the material in question.
The most common type of defamation faced by marketing companies is ex-client online trash talk. Not every customer is reasonable. And unfortunately, a lot times, the customers who voice their displeasure online the loudest are the unreasonable ones – and they have a tendency to remember things differently than they actually happened.
Internetmarketinglawfirms.com gathers legal information for individual marketers and marketing firms that are considering filing a professional trade libel lawsuit. To better understand defamation lawsuits and what options exist for removing defamatory content, check out the following infographic by Kelly/Warner, a firm that specializes in this.