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Re: [freehaven-dev] Discussed Today

On Sun, 23 Apr 2000 dmolnar@belegost.mit.edu wrote:

> Discusses defamation in the face of the Internet. The "Gertz Doctrine"
> refers to a particular case's decision that defamation about a public
> figure had to be proved to be "actual malice." 

This turns out to be misleading. The case seems to have indeed established
that defamation about a public figure had to be actual malice, but that
wasn't new (that dates from an earlier case, New York Times v. Sullivan).
Instead, the case concerned defmation of a private party, a lawyer, by a
newspaper (publication of false allegations that he was a Leninist in
connection with a case he had tried ). The  Supreme Court found that he
could recover damages thanks to being a private party, and in so doing
laid out some standards for who is and is not a public figure.  

Then the article seems to deal with the notion that "on the internet,
everyone is a public figure." The author's claim is that this is not in
fact the case.