Internet slander

If I make a website that tells the bad points of owning a cheep chinees made surfboard could I be sued by the surfboard company? And would they have a case?

And if so, does that apply in this forum? If I say someones surfboards are crap would they have a case against me?

They have to be able to prove damage and they have to be able to prove that this forum caused it. They would get laughed out of the court room and I doubt many lawyers would take the case.

Not only that, but they would have to prove that your allegations are false. As long as you are telling the truth, it doesn’t matter what you say.

Even if you wanted to libel them by lying about their product (remember, it’s libel when written, slander when spoken) they would have a hard time proving damages, and it certainly wouldn’t be worth the legal fees to them, just to shut down a website.

the only problem is that if they are willing to prosecute you, pay their lawyers and all ( and corporations always have lawyers on retainer, cocked and locked) , you need to pay a few yourself. There have been cases of people defending themselves in court in libel or slander cases, winning, and being flat broke or worse at the end of it.

There ain’t no public defenders in lawsuits. Beyond the very faint possibility of defense help from a free speech group, you’re pretty much on your own. And my experience with lawsuits is that if you don’t have some pretty good law types on your side, you’re toast, whether you’re right or wrong.

The law defining free speech via the net is pretty nebulous just now. May I suggest a search of for recent decisions in internet libel or defamation cases. From a definition of intentional torts, found at

Intentional Torts

Unlike negligence, intentional torts require a defendant to have intended his harmful act. Depending on the tort, intent may have to be specific (i.e., the defendant intended to bring about a particular consequence) or general (i.e., defendant knew or should have known that the particular consequence would result).


Defamation occurs when a defendant communicates to a third person a statement of fact about the plaintiff which damages the plaintiff’s reputation. As a defense, a defendant can establish that the defamatory statement was true. Libel refers to written or printed defamation while slander is spoken defamation.

Now, I’m not a lawyer. Nor do I play one on TV. Used to date a few lawyerettes though, which made me reasonably paranoid.

But from your original question: [=1][=Black][ 2]If I make a website that tells the bad points of owning a cheep chinees made surfboard could I be sued by the surfboard company? And would they have a case?[/][/] [/]

Okay, lets look at that question you asked. 'Cos sure as hell the other side would take it to court. Note that they can sue you whether or not they have any grounds whatsoever. They might not win, they might have the case thrown out, but they can most definitely sue. Which means you’d have to go to the time and expense of defending yourself no matter what.

Do you intend communicating something to a third person or persons that would damage the rep of the surfboard makers/importers/retailers/distributors/whatever?? Ah huh, seeems like it, being devil’s advocate. Do you know or should you have reasonably known that it would have done damage to their reputations? Yeah, that’s not unreasonable. And it’s interesting enough, leading edge enough law that a judge might just hear it to get his name in the books. You got a few hundred hours worth of legal fees handy and nothing to do for a while? 'Cos pretty much your only defense is to prove your allegations are true to a judge and /or jury.

So, write a review of a particular board or boards individually instead, don’t go after the whole industry segment in general. That’s more protected speech, which keeps you a little more on the safe side. If you write it here or on another forum ( ideally, say, one of the magazine forums and not Swaylocks, 'cos I don’t especially like those guys anyhow) , well, it is moderated, this forum and others, so if you’re going beyond bounds of free speech and reasonable expression of opinion you may be asked to remove the post or it will be done for you.

Like I said, I’m not a lawyer, I may be needlessly paranoid, but before you go too far, I’d run it ( and what you propose to say ) past somebody who knows more about it all than I do. Libel law is a specialty within tort law and the average Joe Attorney won’t be that much up on it, though for instance a good college newspaper will have lots of info on what you can get away with and what you can’t get away with.

After all, even paranoids have enemies… hope that’s of use…


Banging on chinese popouts on this forum would pretty much be preaching to the choir.

As to a seperate web site, there is actually very little to fear regarding commenting negatively about a product as long as it’s prominently your opinion. Do a google search on any product plus review and you’ll find a plethora of people excercising their freedom to opinion. EEF (electronic frontier foundation) has established case law on this via several successfully defended suits in the last several years, they have been instrumental in bringing down to earth overzealous lawyers intent on jumping on the little guy.