Gossip We Can Trust: Defamation Law and Non-Fiction
Media and Arts Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 37-62, March 2004
25 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2004
Drawing on two case studies, this article considers the allegation of a disgruntled author: 'Defamation was framed to protect the reputations of 19th century gentlemen hypocrites'. The first case study considers the litigation over Bob Ellis' unreliable political memoir, 'Goodbye Jerusalem', published by Random House. The second case study focuses upon the litigation over the allegation by Media Watch that Richard Carleton had plagarised a documentary entitled 'Cry from the Grave'. The article considers the meaning of defamatory imputations, the range of defences, and the available remedies. It highlights the competing arguments over the protection of reputation and privacy, artistic expression, and the freedom of speech. This article concludes that defamation law should foster 'gossip we can trust'.
Keywords: Defamation law, law and literature, biography, history, non-fiction, mixed genres
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