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An Attorney’s Guide to Internet Defamation and Website Removal

Recent Case Law, Libel and Slander vs. Defamatory Conduct, Cease and Desist Demands, Anti-SLAPP Laws

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Thursday, October 21, 2021

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will provide corporate counsel with an overview of what constitutes online defamation and explore the complex web of laws governing defamatory statements, including the First Amendment, the Communications Decency Act (CDA), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), recent case law, and more. The panelist will discuss the difference between libel and slander and considerations for determining if and when to file suit for defamatory conduct, best practices when sending cease and desist letters, and when and how anti-SLAPP laws apply.


Online internet defamation is a major problem for a lot of businesses across the country. One disgruntled person can be responsible for dozens of negative reviews, defamatory comments, online threats, and libelous content.

The CDA and the DMCA provide limitations on claims regarding negative reviews, particularly for the website platform where the review appears. Section 230 of the CDA provides immunity for website platforms from third-party content, saying that an "interactive computer service" cannot be treated as the publisher or speaker of third-party content and thus is not legally responsible.

Websites are not liable for the content posted by their third-party users (such as pornography)--a crucial distinction in the age of social media. Likewise, the DMCA Section 512 gives service providers protection from liability, copyright owners tools to police infringement, and users the ability to challenge the improper use of tools.

The internet's anonymity can make it difficult for a company and counsel to determine who the culprit behind negative and false information is. Counsel and clients must weigh the costs and time associated with pursuing a claim against what they hope to accomplish by filing suit. The business must further consider how a lawsuit, and the subsequent publicity, may affect online reputations.

Listen as our expert discusses the nuances of defamation claims, how various federal laws affect free speech rights, and what to consider when contemplating a lawsuit based on a defamatory review.



  1. History of internet reviews
  2. Defamation
    1. Libel vs. slander
  3. First Amendment
  4. Communications Decency Act
    1. Section 230
  5. Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  6. Cases
    1. Cubby Inc. vs. CompuServe Inc.
    2. Stratton Oakmont vs. Prodigy Services Index
    3. Parker vs. Google
    4. Viacom vs. YouTube, Google Inc.
  7. Litigation strategies
    1. Determining culprit
    2. Determining goal
    3. Examining costs


The panel will review these and other relevant issues:

  • How has the surge in online reviews impacted companies, and what can counsel do regarding false or misleading reviews?
  • What is defamation? How does that differ from slander or libel?
  • What conflicts exist between claims of free speech/First Amendment rights and defamation?
  • How does the CDA Section 230 limit website provider liability, and what can businesses do?
  • What has current case law said regarding potential defamation claims online?
  • What should businesses consider when developing litigation strategies related to online defamation claims?


Sternberg, Paul
Paul Sternberg


Mr. Sternberg has been in the internet defamation field for over 20 years. He has worked with numerous clients helping...  |  Read More

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