What is the difference between a commercial speech and communicated information expressing opinion, recited grievances, protested claimed abuses or just pubic opinion?
In Kenya, unfortunately we have been over concentrating on defamation in line with political public speakers. Little do we know that there can be defamatory speech also in corporate and commercial speech. Making any false statement about a product owned by the manufacturer can lead to defamation lawsuit. For instance, alleging that a certain food product is causing brain tumor in the consumers, you make such speech or document it in a manner to cause damages and injuries to the owner of copyright, then you can be charged of illegality. If found to be malicious and false, then you can be charged of defamation.
By extension, even misusing the logo, trade mark or business name of a company with intent to damage the reputation of the business owner then you can be charged of defaming the company and lawyers in such cases must prove beyond reasonable doubt that your intent was to cause damages and injuries to the complainant. If the claimant wins, then the defendant could be compelled to compensate for damages and injuries caused to the claimant by a law court.
By saying in public, through a recorded speech that people should not go to university X because it lacks academic credentials, the university X has the rights to sue the speaker in any law court for defamation.
Strange enough, even misspelling the name correctly can lead one to court. The name owner can make claims for awards and if wins the case, compensation can be given in that regard. So, libel and slander are not only related to politicians as we have been discussing for the last one month. Even the body corporate is a legal personality with rights to sue and can be sued in the law court.
This story is meant to widen our horizons in the social media platform. Remember the intellectual property and how ideas are also protected. Even the ideas published by media houses are protected by Intellectual Property rights and if one is found to be illegally and without permission using such idea, the claimant can easily move to file a civil lawsuit against the presumed offender under the tort law.
Such includes the use of images and photos, including, designs or pieces of art work authored by others. Simply by using such images in your work can lead one to commit illegality and if the claimant raises the issue in any law court, then the case will be admissible by all effects.
Plagiarism is a common phenomenon today. It simply means that I am using someone’s ideas without appraising or recognizing the source of that information. I am obliged under the law to properly recognize the source and if possible to make clear and correct references to show that the work am quoting does not by right belong to me. Am only using it for academic and research purposes and with no malice attached to it. If I quote someone’s work with intent to damage his reputation and work and to cause him damages, losses and injury, then the author has the rights to take legal action on plagiarism.
Plagiarism is an extension of copyright but much more serious and regulated by copyright law. Using images, products from others in advertisements can as well lead to illegality under the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights).
Remember whoever seeks justice under equity must do it with clean hands. Prove to equity justice that you are not guilty in order to be given amnesty under the rule of equity. Well, even this is a bit problematic. How sure are you that you are legally correct?
Remember, in any judicial process, evidence of facts is vital. You must have evidence to prove your case whether in offense of in defense. It is a waste of time and money to move to any law court if you lack evidence or your evidence is weak. You better settle such disputes outside court to avoid some technicalities and unnecessary expenses.
Even the statements made by companies can amount to illegality. Statements made in effort to advertise certain products must not be construed to defame other companies or defame their products. Companies can sue other companies on defamation.
If you have cases to share with the participants of media law and ethics in mass communication, please go ahead and share. It is very important for us to know that defamation is not only a concern or a construct of politicians but even others.