What do defamation laws do?
Defamation laws exist to discourage people from broadcasting false statements about others.
If a party makes false assertions about any aspect of your character, you have the right, under the defamation laws, to sue that party. Though intended to merely protect individuals’ reputations from falsification, defamation suits run into controversy due to their perception as limiting freedom of speech. In one recent example, debate exists on whether a New York law firm did in fact defame the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, located in Lansing, Michigan.
Why is the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law suing a New York law firm for defamation?
Cooley claims that the New York law firm Kurzon Strauss LLP defamed the school by asking students to join the law firm in a class action suit against the school. Pointing specifically to information about Cooley students defaulting on their loans, Kuzon Strauss asserted statistics about Cooley that the school claims are libelous and untrue. In order to maintain the reputation of the school, Cooley decided a defamation suit was necessary
In addition to the suit against Kurzon Strauss, the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law filed suit against four anonymous bloggers that the school claims have posted online comments detrimental to the school’s reputation. Cooley representatives claim that though free speech entitles everyone to their own opinions about the school, these particular online comments have crossed the line into defamation. The results of these suits could usher in new standards by which parties are able to recover in defamation suits for content posted over the internet.
What has happened to the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law as a result of its lawsuit?
Pursuant to Cooley’s suit, an attorney for Kurzon Strauss named David Anziska announced plans his business had for countersuing both the law school, and its lawyers. Anziska claimed that Cooley’s original suit seeks to intimidate his law firm, and that the grounds on which Cooley is suing are unfounded.
Given the relative newness of the internet, this controversy could answer questions about how much is too much in terms of freedom individuals have to post comments on the internet. Proponents of free speech might argue that the best remedy for false information posted over the internet would be for the school to have posted the correct information-not to sue Kurzon Strauss. Others might disagree, instead recognizing that preservation of reputation, even over the internet, demands that the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law win its defamation suit against Kurzon Strauss.