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5-08-2010 @ 12:21PM
Libel is written, slander is spoken.
5-08-2010 @ 12:56PM
It's not so black and white when it's transient, such as in in-game chat. http://www.lextechnologiae.com/2009/12/01/is-there-a-viable-argument-that-twitter-is-more-like-a-coffee-house-conversation-than-an-online-publication/
5-08-2010 @ 1:25PM
5-08-2010 @ 1:31PM
But it's not being recorded for publishing. I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm just saying it's not clear or firm or obvious at all.
5-08-2010 @ 2:10PM
It doesn't need to be "for publishing", Robin, it just needs to be memorialized in some way in order to be considered libel. Twitter's not a great example here, because the Library of Congress just decided to explicitly memorialize every tweet ever published; therefore defamation on Twitter is explicitly libel. However, the case of WOW in-game chat hinges on whether the chat *has been* saved, which we can't always know is the case. (It certainly beggars belief to assume that Blizzard has permanently recorded every character ever entered into the chat system. But if the record of a defamation is destroyed, does it go from libel to slander?) In this case, I think Robin's made the right choice; legally, I don't think that we can assume that Blizzard is logging every word we write to a permanent file, and therefore in-game chat is fundamentally transient and therefore slander.IANAL, of course. But that seems like an accurate reading given my limited knowledge of US defamation law.
5-08-2010 @ 3:29PM
I also beg to question the usage of the chat functions.Slander (simple): Comments made as spoken word in which defame someone.Libel (simple): Comments published "memorialized" in which defame someone.In game, you have various ways to output text. One of these is /say. In game, say is exactly what it implies: It's spoken word. As there is not a technology that can articulate these words in a emotional way in game with voices, it's by far considered SPOKEN word.Likewise with yelling and trade chat. Your running a -dialogue- (Hint hint) between multiple individuals on a many-to-many medium. Not a one-to-many, like a defamatory article would. In a nutshell:/say would be considered spoken word in game. Many-to-many implications. Slander/2. would be considered spoken word in game. Many-to-many implications. SlanderMail would be considered text. It's also a one-to-one communication (with the ability to become one-to-many.) LibelYou all are hinging on the fact that the data is stored, and therefore it's written and published. Since Blizzard won't publish records (if they even store them), your statements are slander. You are -still- speaking on a many-to-many basis. That's also what Robin was showing if you read the article she posted. She's 100% correct.Now if you would like to debate where the line is drawn, be my guest. The internet is a gray area, and I'm certain that the difference between slander and libel is questionable on something as fluid as in game chat.
5-08-2010 @ 4:20PM
Chris, the destruction of the information does not affect its status as libel. For instance, a defamatory billboard is libel and it doesn't become slander once the billboard is taken down. The Twitter analogy in the article, while not perfect, isn't affected by the LoC archiving since the article was written in '09.In the case of in-game chat, you've got a message from one person sent to a third party, with knowledge it will be stored, for the explicit purpose of publication either on a small (instant message) or large (trade chat) scale. In trade chat, you don't even have to be present at the original utterance, you can scroll up and still see the comment. Robin's article points out that the definition of transitory (speech, gesture) or memorialized (recorded on paper, film or audio) doesn't change with technology. It makes an argument that Twitter and other online communications in a general setting could be considered slander, but starts out explicitly stating that current law does not support that position.In the case of WoW, the text is written, sent to a third-party, saved (either to a temporary or permanent file) and broadcast to an audience... I simply can't see any way to shoehorn that into slander.
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