Legal terminology can be both overwhelming and confusing for clients. Understanding exactly what a lawyer is talking about can feel like an insurmountable mountain that may never be climbed. However, we at Minc Law are here to put your mind at ease by breaking down the most common and basic legal terms used by internet defamation attorneys and legal professionals.
We want to make sure that you are thoroughly prepared for your upcoming internet defamation consult, whether it is with us or another law firm that has a deep focus in internet defamation law.
Familiarizing yourself with the following basic legal terms now can go a long way towards understanding your legal rights, remedies, and claims in the future!
The basic legal terms you will want to know before speaking with an internet defamation attorney can be broken down into three categories:
- Litigation terms
- Non-litigation terms
- Internet defamation-specific terms
This legal glossary will define the most commonly explained terms within each of the above categories.
We will start with the litigation terms that typically cause the most confusion (listed in alphabetical order for ease of reference).
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Basic Litigation Terms to Know
An affidavit is a written document (or declaration) in which the signer swears under oath before someone authorized to take oaths (like a Notary or County Clerk), that the statements made in the document are true.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution (or “ADR”) is the means of settling a dispute outside of the courtroom before trial. Many courts require parties to attempt to resolve their dispute through ADR before a case goes to trial. If a court requires ADR and the parties refuse to comply in good faith, the case may be dismissed by the court – leaving the dispute unresolved.
To appeal is to ask the court at the next higher level to determine whether the trial court erred. A party who loses in the trial court has the right to have his or her case heard by the next highest appellate level court in civil court.
Parties cannot simply bring their appeal case to be heard in front of the United States Supreme Court. You must go through a “chain of command” which usually is the Court of Appeals, the State Supreme Court, then the United States Supreme Court.
Quite simply, civil law encompasses every type of lawsuit that is NOT a criminal proceeding. Civil law includes business issues, contracts, estates, domestic (family) relations, accidents, torts, and virtually everything in-between.
When you bring a matter to a civil court, you are usually asking for monetary damages or injunctive relief. When a matter is brought in criminal court, someone’s freedom is at stake.
It should be noted that Minc Law handles civil matters, we do not handle criminal matters.
A complaint is the civil version of a “charge” or a pleading filed by the plaintiff that initiates a lawsuit. By filing a complaint against someone, the plaintiff asks the court to determine the outcome of a legal issue.
This document must contain certain elements, including the allegations against the defendant(s), the specific law(s) violated, the facts that led to the dispute (or the cause of action), and any demands for relief made by the plaintiff to restore justice.
Criminal law is the area of law that relates to crime. It prohibits conduct perceived as harmful, threatening, or otherwise a danger to the property, health, safety, and moral welfare of people. Criminal law includes the punishment and rehabilitation of people who violate these laws. Civil law, on the other hand, places more emphasis on dispute resolution and victim compensation.
Damages are merely the compensation claimed by a plaintiff to atone for their injury or economic loss. There are many types of damages for different kinds of losses or injuries such as:
- Presumed Damages: Damages that are awarded for injury to the plaintiff’s reputation in defamation per se cases. They are based on the presumed harm the plaintiff’s reputation sustained as a result of the defendant’s statements.
- Special Damages: Damages that reimburse a plaintiff for actual harm. This may include lost past and future income, lost employment benefits, and/or medical bills for treatment of mental anguish or physical injury.
- Mental Anguish Damages: Damages awarded to compensate a plaintiff for the humiliation, anxiety, and distress caused by the defamatory remark. These damages are usually difficult to prove and almost always require medical documentation.
- Nominal Damages: Damages awarded as a way of warning the defendant. These damages can be as little as one dollar and usually accompany a retraction or public apology.
- Punitive Damages: Damages designed to punish the defendant for malicious behavior. They are only awarded if a plaintiff can prove the defendant made a defamatory statement with actual malice.
For a more in-depth look at the types of damages in defamation cases and how to prove damages, we recommend checking out our artice on the subject, “How to Prove Damages In a Defamation Lawsuit”
A defendant is a person, group, or organization against whom some kind of civil relief is being sought (or the person accused of committing a crime in a criminal proceeding). The difference between a civil defendant and a criminal defendant is that a criminal defendant is usually charged with an arrest warrant.
Discovery is the method whereby one party obtains relevant information on a case from the other party. This method exists to even the playing field between parties by exposing all relevant facts upon which the court will ultimately base its decision. The five common sub-components of discovery are:
- Interrogatories: Written questions to the opposing party that must be answered under penalty of perjury.
- Request for Admissions: Written statements the opposing party must deny or admit under penalty of perjury. If a party fails to respond within a specified period of time (in most cases, 30 days) that means that the statements are assumed to be admitted.
- Requests for Production: A request that a party provides documents or other physical items for inspection.
- Requests for Mental or Physical Examination: A request that the other party (usually the plaintiff) be subjected to a mental or physical examination. This is a form of discovery that may require a court order so that it cannot be used to intimidate.
- Depositions: Oral questions that must be answered under oath. Depositions take place out of court, most often in an attorney’s office with a court reporter transcribing the testimony. Attorneys from both sides must be present and will have the opportunity to ask questions. Depositions can take place for the purpose of questioning the opposing party or for questioning witnesses. They are sometimes videotaped and audiotaped.
A hearing is a proceeding before a judge or magistrate without a jury in which evidence and/or argument is presented. Hearings are brief sessions involving a specific legal question or issue held prior to the trial itself. They are typically timed and each judge may have their own specific procedures for their hearings.
For example, if a hearing will take longer than 15 minutes, the judge may request that your legal team schedule an exclusive meeting on their “Special Set” calendar.
An injunction is a judicial order that prohibits a person from beginning or continuing an action that threatens or invades the legal right of another. Injunctions are legal remedies that can either be temporary or permanent.
In the context of online defamation, injunctions are often an important remedy. If a blogger is actively posting defamatory statements about you on their website, you may need the court to order an injunction forcing them to stop posting defamatory content (or a court order to remove content).
Internet Defamation Law Fact: Internet defamation lawyers are civil attorneys. They file civil lawsuits. They cannot press or pursue criminal charges for defamation. While there are some states that have criminal libel laws, people rarely go to jail for defamation. It is usually best for clients to pursue defamation as a civil matter.
A judgment is a court’s final conclusion on a legal matter. A judgment states who wins the case and what remedies the winner is entitled to, including monetary damages, injunctive relief, or both.
A valid judgment resolves all contested issues in a case and terminates the lawsuit (as well as the court’s jurisdiction in the case). If a party wants to appeal the court’s decision they must do so within the appellate system.
Jurisdiction is the court’s general power to exercise authority to hear and decide a case.
One of the first questions that attorneys are asked during a consultation is “Where Can I File a Defamation Lawsuit?” In general, you can typically file a lawsuit in states where:
- You live
- The defamer (person who has defamed you) lives;
- Your business operates;
- Your customers live; or
- You have experienced losses or damages as a result of the defamation.
Jurisdiction can also be affected by the amount of damages that a plaintiff is seeking – as outlined in their complaint. Most states have different levels of trial courts, with each having different monetary requirements that must be met to gain access to higher-level courts.
For example, Florida has three levels of trial courts that hear cases. As of May 2022, small claims courts in Florida may hear cases up to $8,000 in damages, county courts may hear cases between $8,001 and $30,000 in damages, and up to $50,000 on January 1, 2023, and circuit courts may hear cases in excess of $30,000 in damages.
Federal courts will not hear cases unless there are at least $75,000 in damages requested.
You can check with the County Clerk in your area to find out the requirements specific to your state, which can easily be found by Googling “County Clerk [Your County]”.
Liability is the legal responsibility for one’s acts or omissions.
Often, clients ask, “Why can’t I sue Google?” when discussing their options. The simple answer is: liability. Google cannot be sued for defamatory content published on the internet because they cannot be held liable in court. The person who can be held liable is the author of the harmful posting.
When speaking to an attorney it is important to establish whether joint and several liability may apply. Joint and several liability means that more than one party may be liable, individually or collectively, for the wrongdoing.
For instance, if you sue John Smith and Joe Johnson, and the court finds they are liable (with joint and several liability) you can collect damages from John Smith, Joe Johnson, or both of them together. If the court awards you $100,000 in damages and Joe Johnson declares bankruptcy, claiming he is unable to pay, John Smith will still be “on the hook” for the total award.
In a nutshell, joint and several liability may increase your chances of being able to collect your full award of damages.
Litigation is the process of asking a court of law to decide the outcome of a dispute. It is really just a fancy word for lawsuit. The outcome of a dispute can be decided by a jury or, if both parties agree, solely by a judge (in a proceeding known as a bench trial).
There are several requirements that must be met before filing a lawsuit to prevent frivolous lawsuits or potential dismissals. Your attorney may recommend starting with non-litigation remedies such as a defamation cease and desist letter, demand for retraction, or an impact statement to bolster your case in the long run (and possibly save you a ton in legal fees).
Local Counsel is a lawyer in a different jurisdiction (usually another state) who assists with a case to ensure compliance with the local practice and rules. Since attorneys are only allowed to practice law in a state where they are licensed, many law firms employ the help of a local attorney to file lawsuits in a state outside of their jurisdiction.
Practicing law in a state where your attorney is not licensed can get your attorney disbarred for even trying. At Minc Law, our attorneys can represent you from out of state through the assistance of a local counsel.
A Motion is a request that the court take a specific procedural step. Motions are procedural in nature, and act as a request for an order from the court. Commonly filed motions include:
- Motion to Dismiss: asks the court to dismiss a case,
- Motion for Summary Judgment: asks the court to render a judgment for one party without a full trial, and
- Motion for Extension of Time: asks the court to grant an extension for a deadline, most often a pleading or discovery.
The parties in a case are simply the individuals or groups involved in the legal action because they have an interest in the outcome.
In civil matters, the plaintiff and the defendant are both parties to the litigation e.g. Luke Skywalker v. Darth Vader in a personal injury lawsuit.
A plaintiff is a person, group, or organization who brings a lawsuit to court first. This is done by filing a pleading or complaint in a court of law. By doing so, a Plaintiff seeks a legal remedy in the form of either damages, an injunction, or declaratory relief.
Online “Catfishing” Tip: Many online platforms, including most social media websites, do not have provisions in their Terms of Service that require users to register accounts under their actual names. This has resulted in the common use of fictitious usernames and pseudonyms, and sometimes the creation of elaborate internet personas and personalities which differ greatly from the users operating the accounts. Fortunately there are some useful tools for dealing with catfishers and online impersonators.
Pro Hac Vice
Pro hac vice is a legal procedure that requests that an attorney who is not licensed in a certain jurisdiction be admitted to practice law solely for a specific occasion or legal matter. In Latin, pro hac vice literally means, “for or on this occasion only.”
Generally, only attorneys licensed in a particular state can practice in that state. For instance, an attorney licensed to practice in Ohio may only file lawsuits in Ohio. If an Ohio attorney files a lawsuit in Pennsylvania without pro hac vice admission, they could be punished for unauthorized practice of law.
Unauthorized practice of law is a grievous violation of the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct that could lead to an attorney losing their license to practice in any state.
The pro hac vice admission process, combined with the assistance of local counsel, is how Minc Law attorneys are able to assist clients who are located in different states.
A settlement is an agreement to end litigation for an agreed-upon condition, usually the exchange of money. Settlements are an alternative to pursuing litigation through trial.
Typically, a settlement occurs when the defendant agrees to some or all of the plaintiff’s claims and decides not to fight the matter in court, usually to avoid the high cost and amount of time that litigation requires.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the time limit for filing a lawsuit in a court of law. Once a legal wrong (such as defamation) occurs, a plaintiff only has so long to file a lawsuit – based on the relevant statute of limitations.
Video: The Statute of Limitations for Defamation in the U.S.
Lawsuits filed after the statute of limitations time limit has run out may be dismissed with prejudice. If, for instance, you discover a defamatory statement posted about your Ohio business online on April 28, 2020, you will need to file a complaint before April 28, 2021, to comply with Ohio’s defamation Statute of Limitations. If you file after that date, your complaint will be dismissed and you will have no right to appeal.
When it comes to online defamation, it is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as you become aware of the defamation so that you do not run out of time to file your lawsuit.
A subpoena is an order issued under the authority of the court to compel the production of something or someone. This may include requiring a person to appear in court, go to a deposition, or hand over documents or evidence to another party.
A subpoena should never be ignored because the court can hold you in contempt and could impose a punishment such as jail time or a large fine.
A pretrial motion asking the court to determine the outcome of the case based on the pleadings and motion rather than going to trial with a jury. The party who filed the motion must show that they win purely based on the law and that there are no material facts in dispute (that would otherwise need to be presented at a trial).
Sometimes legal claims are so strong at the outset of a lawsuit that there is no need for the case to even proceed to trial – there is a clear winner and loser. When this occurs, a motion for summary judgment may save considerable time and money.
For instance, if you file a breach of contract claim and the other party admits that they signed a valid contract and breached said contract, your dispute may warrant a Motion for summary judgment.
A summons is a written document from a court or judicial officer specifically delivered to a person, notifying them that a lawsuit has been commenced against him/her. The summons goes hand-in-hand with the complaint and must be served on a person before a lawsuit can truly begin.
Service of process is the formal name for serving a summons on a defendant and cannot be done by the plaintiff. A summons must be served by either the sheriff, a private process server, or by certified mail (if permitted by court rules).
A tort is a civil wrong or wrongful act which causes injury to another. Torts can be committed both accidentally and intentionally. Common torts include:
A trial is the final step of the litigation process and the most anticipated. There are six phases to a trial:
- Choosing a Jury: The method to question potential jurors is called voir dire (vwa-deer). Jurors may be dismissed for either good cause (like bias) or for no reason at all (called a peremptory challenge). Peremptory challenges are usually limited to three or six per attorney.
- Opening Statements: Presentations made by the attorneys at the beginning of a trial, stating the facts they intend to prove during the trial.
- Witness Testimony and Examination: Questions directed at a witness who is under oath or at a deposition. Witness testimony is gathered through a combination of direct and cross-examinations.
- Closing Arguments: A statement each attorney makes addressing the jury or the judge at the end of the trial, attempting to persuade them prior to deliberations.
- Jury Instruction: Guidelines given to the jury about how the law should be applied, and the facts that may be considered when reaching a verdict.
- Jury Deliberations: A jury’s private discussion following the trial with the goal of rendering a verdict. In criminal matters, the verdict will be either guilty or not guilty. In civil matters, the verdict will be either liable or not liable.
The amount of time needed for a trial varies upon several different factors but usually takes between one and three weeks. Some trials have gone on for less time, some for more.
Basic Non-Litigation Terms to Know
An arrest occurs when police officers take a suspect into custody and is complete as soon as the suspect is no longer free to walk away from the arresting police officer. This moment often comes well before the suspect actually arrives at a jail.
An arrest requires taking someone into custody, against that person’s will, in order to prosecute or interrogate. It involves a physical application of force, or submission to an officer’s show of force. In sum, the arrestee must not be free to leave.
You do not need to be handcuffed and taken to jail in a police car to be considered arrested. You may be released and given a citation to appear in court and still have a record of arrest.
For example, if an individual is arrested by security officers at a sporting event and handed over to police officers once they arrive, they have been arrested (even if they are never taken to jail). Sometimes individuals are merely given a citation and instructions to appear in court in the future – but the encounter may still be deemed an arrest.
In the previous example, the individual was arrested but did not go to jail. This would count as an arrest and they would most likely need to get their record expunged to remove the incident from most background searches.
Cease and Desist Letter
When you send someone a cease and desist letter, you are asking them to stop exhibiting or engaging in a particular activity that is harmful to you in some way. A good cease and desist letter should not only identify the unlawful behavior specifically, but it should outline the potential consequences of continuing the behavior.
Often, the consequence of not complying with a cease and desist is a civil lawsuit (which may entail considerable time and money). By giving an offending party the opportunity to cease their unlawful behavior before filing a lawsuit, both parties may benefit by avoiding costly litigation.
For targets of libelous statements and victims of cyberbullying and sextortion, a cease and desist letter may even make the recipient retract what they have already published.
A well-written cease and desist letter should specify the defamatory statement, the reasons why it is untrue, and the damages you are suffering. Also, it is advisable to give the recipient a deadline by which they must retract their statements before you will need to take legal action.
A charge is a formal accusation of criminal activity. A criminal offense is a crime against the state. If you have been charged with a crime, one of the following will have occurred:
- A police officer or detective put handcuffs on you and arrested you. You should have had your Miranda Rights read to you.
- You received a summons in the mail telling you that you have to show up for what is called an arraignment or an initial appearance. At that time, you will appear in front of a judge and a prosecutor will present the charges against you. The charges may be something as small as petty theft or something as heinous as first-degree murder depending on the situation. You will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. You may be appointed a lawyer if you are unable to afford your own.
Expungement is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal record. An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record.
It is important to clarify that expungement is not “forgiveness” for a crime, that would be a legal pardon. Likewise, a legal pardon is not expungement and does not require removal of a conviction from the record.
Expungement orders from federal courts are extremely rare and there is no federal statute governing expungements at the federal level. Each state, however, has its own laws about whose records are eligible for expungement.
State expungement rules often stipulate which offenses may be expunged, procedures for expungement, and definitions of how records will be managed under an expungement order. Since expungement laws vary widely among jurisdictions, it is important to check with your local county clerk for your state’s limits and procedures. To read more about the expungement process for court records, we recommend you check out our article, How to Remove Public Court Records from the Internet, and our video on the subject, below.
Video: How to Remove Court Records From the Internet
Dealing with Anonymous Attacker Tip: Filing a lawsuit against an anonymous attacker may be the only way to obtain identifying information. Most websites and internet companies will not turn over private user information with a subpoena or court order. Filing a John Doe lawsuit can give you subpoena power and the ability to conduct discovery, which can be used to unmask the defendant. We cover the basics of filing a John Doe Lawsuit in more in the video below:
Video: What is a John Doe Lawsuit? How to Identify Anonymous Attackers Online
An impact statement is an essay that is sent to third-party publications (usually for news articles) detailing the negative impact a defendant’s behavior has had on the victim’s life. Since the press is not obligated to remove a news article or blog just because the content can be viewed as harmful, sharing your unique personal experiences may actually be helpful in getting content removed.
In some cases, even those accused or convicted of a legal wrong can make use of an impact statement. Say that you were convicted over ten years ago for forging a doctor’s signature on a prescription pad to buy narcotics at the pharmacy. Several news editors got wind of your arrest and your mugshot from public records and made a story about it.
In the years since you were convicted, you went to rehab, got married, had children, and have really turned your life around. A powerful essay detailing all of these new positives can be very compelling to news editors who are in charge of content removal.
Content Removal Fact: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides online platforms with immunity for content posted on their site. The law can only impose liability on publishers and creators of the content, so you have no recourse with popular platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews, Instagram, RealSelf.com or Healthgrades.
A plea is a formal reply from the accused to criminal charges. There are three types of pleas in court:
Guilty: Admitting to the offense(s). This is not the most common plea, but many would consider pleading guilty if a deal was struck between the accused and the prosecutor. The terms of the deal may include a lesser charge or a reduced sentence (in some cases, simply probation).
Not Guilty: Compels the prosecution to prove every element of the offense(s). Contrary to popular belief, this is not the same as a claim of innocence. This plea is usually the safest bet because it will allow you more time to look into the offense you are being charged with and consult an attorney. The charge(s) may be dismissed if discovery reveals insufficient evidence to make a conviction.
No Contest or Nolo Contendere: This is neither an acceptance or denial of responsibility, but an agreement to accept the charges. This could either end in a conviction or a dismissal, so it is best to consult with a criminal defense attorney before entering this plea.
Typically, lawyers follow one of three pricing systems:
- Retainer: a retainer fee is money paid to an attorney to secure their services. It also refers to the contract between the attorney and the client. This is the most common payment structure that defamation attorneys use because the deposit is provided before work begins. Hourly fees are billed from that retainer on a monthly basis and client’s receive a monthly accounting of their balance.
- Contingency: a contingency payment structure does not require payment unless (and until) your attorney wins the lawsuit. Have you ever been in your car listening to the radio or at home watching TV and you hear or see a commercial advertising “You don’t pay, unless you win?” These are lawyers who are telling you about their contingency structure. They are extremely common in personal injury or first property insurance claims.
- Pro Bono: an old Latin term used often to describe when attorneys perform free legal services for a client. Often the client is expected to meet certain income eligibility standards to qualify for pro bono services. Although it is recommended by the American Bar Association that an attorney should “aspire to render at least fifty hours of pro bono publico legal services per year,” new lawyers who have recently graduated from law school will more frequently take on pro bono cases than a veteran attorney. If you are looking for pro bono services, charitable organizations or your local legal aid society are great places to start researching.
At Minc Law, we usually use a retainer structure for litigation and non-litigation services. Guaranteed content removals, on the other hand, work on a flat fee basis. For a more detailed explanation of the key benefits of using a retainer agreement to finance your legal matter, check out the video below.
Video: Attorney Retainer Fee Agreement: What Is It & How Does It Work?
Note: for Current or Prospective Minc Law Clients – Legal billing terminology can be overwhelming and confusing for clients. To make things easier, we have created a comprehensive article to assist you, “Understanding Your Minc Law Invoice“. Please refer to our article for a breakdown of legal billing terms used by internet defamation attorneys.
The main difference between expungement and sealing records is that the expungement process may remove a charge or conviction from your court records, while sealing merely hides your record from the public view and is not deleted. There are very limited circumstances in which an expungement can fully remove a record from public view.
Sealed records are even less secure than expungement and can still be reopened if a court order is presented. Many states automatically seal juvenile records once a minor turns 18 but some restrictions may apply.
Neither expungement nor the sealing of records obligates the press, Google, or social media to remove content referring to the charges or arrest.
Basic Internet Defamation Terms to Know
Consumer reviews are a review of a product or service made by a customer who has purchased, used, or had experience with, the product or service. Consumer reviews are regularly a form of customer feedback on electronic commerce and online shopping sites.
A court order is an official command by the court, usually demanding that one or both parties to a lawsuit perform an action.
Orders must be signed by an officer of the court (most commonly a judge). Frequently signed orders include orders setting a trial, granting or denying a motion, or recording a judgment.
Data Broker Websites
Data brokers (also known as information brokers, data providers, and data suppliers) are companies that collect data themselves or buy it from other companies. Most data brokers crawl the internet for useful information about users – legally or otherwise – and aggregate that information with data from other sources.
Data brokers can masquerade themselves as people search engines where the information collected can include your:
- Addresses (both past and present),
- Birth dates,
- Education information,
- Employment details,
- Financial information, and
- Court records like bankruptcy or arrests.
For more information on data broker sites and how to protect your online reputation from them, check our our legal resource on the subject, “How to Remove Yourself From Data Broker Sites” and out videon on the subject below.
Video: Want to Remove Yourself From Data Broker Websites? Find Out How
Put simply, defamation is the act of damaging the good reputation of someone else. Defamation can be broken down into two subcategories: libel and slander. Libel is written defamation while slander is spoken.
- Defamation (noun): the act of communicating false statements about a person that injures the reputation of that person.
- Libel (noun): a method of defamation expressed in print, writing, pictures, signs, effigies, or any communication embodied in physical form that is injurious to a person’s reputation, exposes a person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule, or injures a person in their business or profession.
- Slander (noun): oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which will harm the reputation of the person being defamed. Damages for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and even harder to prove.
|Written or published statements
|Verbally committed defamatory statements
|Text found in printed media such as newspapers, magazines, and on blogs, social media, websites, etc.
|Oral expressions which may be heard on television, in public gathering places, face-to-face, or over audio recordings, etc.
|Criminally wrong as well as tortious
|Only a civil wrong unless seditious
|Actionable per se
|Requires “special damages” to be actionable
I contracted Minc Law for the removal of a defamatory posting tied to my phone number and first name, and its removal from major search engines. Everybody I came into contact with at the firm was friendly, professional and attentive throughout the process. Dayra Lomba was assigned my case and she did a great job – she answered all of my questions thoroughly and honestly throughout, and responded to my email inquiries in a prompt and timely fashion. The removal work was completed within the time frame that was promised and I was very pleased with the results. I highly recommend Minc Law and Dayra Lomba for this type of service, and if their work on this is any indication, I’m sure they would be great for any other services they offer.
T. D.,Oct 3, 2019
A mugshot (an informal term for police photograph or booking photograph) is a photographic portrait of a person from the waist up, typically taken after a person is arrested.
The purpose of the mugshot was to allow law enforcement to have a photographic record of an arrested individual to allow for identification purposes by victims, the public, and investigators. Now, mugshots are often shared online and may be a source of shaming or cyberbullying.
Online Reputation Management (ORM)
Online reputation management refers to the influencing and controlling of one’s online reputation. Closely tied to public relations, ORM tends to focus on reputation monitoring and repair, as well as damage prevention and recovery. ORM can be a very beneficial service for content that is still newsworthy, has gone viral, is related to a serious crime, or if legal action for content removal will take too long.
An opinion is a personal view or judgment formed about something that does not necessarily harm another’s reputation or business. There is quite a bit of gray area when comparing a personal opinion to defamation. With defamation, the statements must be false and cause at least a metaphorical injury to one’s reputation.
The difference between the two can become especially hazy when you are not sure whether harm was actually done.
For example, if you were to write a negative review on Google for your wedding planner saying you were unsatisfied by their services, that would be considered an opinion. On the other hand, if you write a review alleging that the wedding planner was a thief who had stolen your security deposit (when they did not) then that will likely be classified as a fake Google review and you may be held liable for defamation.
Revenge porn is a form of non-consensual pornography where sexual, compromising photographs or videos are distributed online without the victim’s consent. The photographs or videos may have been taken in secret, stolen through the hacking of emails and cell phones, or willingly shared with the perpetrator with the expectation that the content would remain private.
In some cases, people may take this action because they are jealous of the victim or are motivated by anger and jealousy following a failed relationship or difficult break-up.
Search Engine/Search Results
Search engines are web-based programs that search for and identify items on the internet based on keywords specified during a query. Popular search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and YouTube.
Search results are the data or a set of links that match the criteria of the query. Search engines only find the data for you, they do not post it. Search engines are rarely held liable in defamation cases due to the fact that they are only hosting content, not creating it.
Search Engine De-Indexing
De-indexing is the removal of content from online search results. Search engines such as Google and Bing maintain certain criteria in order for data to be removed from their cache.
Generally, Google will remove content from their results if the page is an “outdated page” meaning the URL submitted to Google’s removal form is returned as a dead link. Most often, when a dead link is clicked an error message such as a “404 Error: Not Found” will be displayed. This means that the visitor (Google’s crawler) was able to locate the server that the link was hosted on, but not that particular page.
Another option for removing content is by sending a “changed content” request. This is common in situations where content was previously hosted on a category page (like adult content or shaming categories) but has since been removed. A unique keyword must be entered for Google to crawl the page and update their cache. This option can be hit or miss and may require multiple attempts at removal.
Sextortion refers to a specific type of sexual exploitation whereby a party employs non-physical methods of coercion to extort sexual acts, money, or other goods from an innocent party.
According to an interview with an FBI cyber-crimes agent, sextortion occurs “when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you fail to provide them with images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.”
Minc Law is Here to Help
Aside from being defamation advocates, we are also educators who are passionate about our close attorney-client relationships. In addition to representing clients in court, we pride ourselves on making sure our clients understand the legal process and what to expect.
“I had a great experience all around with this firm. The paralegal, Dayra, was very responsive and helpful in coordinating zoom meeting within 24 hours.”
Katherine Whipple, September 18, 2020
We know just how confusing and disrupting internet defamation can be in a victim’s life and do everything we can mitigate the damage. If you are the victim of internet defamation and ready to proceed with setting up a free, no-obligation defamation consultation with an intake specialist, we recommend first reading how much an internet defamation lawyer costs and then contacting us via online chat, our contact form, or by calling us at (216) 373-7706.
Still unsure of Minc Law’s services or abilities to help resolve your internet issue? Check out the video below to learn the answers to our top 6 frequently asked questions from our clients, including the definitions of libel and slander, whether defamation lawyers are criminal or civil lawyers, if an attorney in another state can represent you, how we identify anonymous perpetrators, and how to get started with Minc Law.
Video: Top 6 Questions We Get at Minc Law