What to do about a possible defamation of character?

A friend posted pictures of me along with screen shots of our conversations, taking them out of context, called me different degrading terms, made it possible for other users to do the same and one of my photos was then taken from his thread on the website he was posting on by some adult site and posted on theirs. I am a very private person, and this is not the first time he has done so. He uploaded videos of me on youtube, but I asked him to delete them which he did after I filed a complain to Youtube. I am myself a lawyer in Europe and need to know how and if I should take this further. Does this fit under defamation of character or is there something else more appropriate? He is from the US and I am from Europe. How could I make that work?

Asked on September 6, 2012 under Personal Injury, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Defamation of character is the public making of untrue factual statements which damage another's reputation. The key is that it must be untrue facts. Opinions and true facts, no matter how damaging, are not defamation. So, you say you are called degrading terms: if you are called "lazy," "greedy," "creepy," etc., that is not defamation--those are opinions. If you are described as  "pedaphile" or "embezzler" or "adulterer," however, that could be defamation, since those are factual assertions which damage your reputation.

In terms of invasion of privacy and related causes of action, if you sent communications, photographs, etc. to him, then you have no privacy expectations in them--once you correpsond with another, you give up your privacy rights in the correspondence. On the other hand, if he took photos of you from your website without permission and downloaded them elsewhere, that would be misappropriation of your image and you could potentially sue to force him to stop doing so or for damages.

This is under U.S. law; if you wanted to sue him in the U.S., you could need to hire a U.S. attorney. On the other hand, if his actions have violated EU law or the law of your country, it may be possible to sue him domestically, then register the judgment in the U.S. or otherwise get a U.S. court to enforce it.


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