What does Libel mean?
Libel is published, written or broadcasted information about someone which is considered false and malicious. It differs from slander, which is spoken. A civil lawsuit can be filed for libel if the party can prove the information has caused them loss (injured their reputation or caused loss of business it).
Libel can take many forms, but common types of libel include claiming someone has a sexually transmitted disease, which they do not have, or claiming they committed a crime they did not commit. There are several common defenses against libel. For instance, if the information is true, even if it is damaging, it is not libelous. Information which is privileged and information which is considered a comment or criticism (such as information which appears on an opinion page) is also not considered libel. Public officials have a higher standard of proof for libel than a private citizen. For instance, they must prove the information was published with actual malice.