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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Default What Defines A "Public Figure"?

    Hi,

    I think the definition of a "Public Official is pretty straightforward, however, what criteria accurately defines a "Public Figure"?

    My Best,

    FG

  2. #2
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    Aug 2007
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    3,837

    Default Re: What Defines A "Public Figure"?

    Quote Quoting guerino1
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    Hi,

    I think the definition of a "Public Official is pretty straightforward, however, what criteria accurately defines a "Public Figure"?

    My Best,

    FG

    The USSC has generally skirted the issue of what a public figure is? You need to research some of your own states case law on defamation for some more specific definitions. State laws may vary.

    There is NO question that mega stars like Elton John, Lebron James, etc, are public figures.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    575

    Default Re: What Defines A "Public Figure"?

    There is no statutory criteria, just common law precident. If it's disputed, only a court can rule.

    My take on it: If you are routinely in the public eye, or a high profile individual in some capacity, you are a public figure. If you become the subject of a matter of public interest, you become a public figure. It doesn't have to be voluntary. If you hold yourself out to be a public figure, even if just by blogging, you are inviting public response, and making yourself a public figure by speaking out.

    I commented in another thread on defamation about this:

    What happens when one otherwise anonymous username claims slander from another anonymous username? Are cyber-identities persons under the law? A succcessful anonymous blogger could be damaged both in reputation and financially by slander. Corporations aren't real persons, yet enjoy many(not all) of the same protections as real persons - why or why can't cyber-identities?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: What Defines A "Public Figure"?

    Quote Quoting guerino1
    View Post
    Hi,

    I think the definition of a "Public Official is pretty straightforward, however, what criteria accurately defines a "Public Figure"?

    My Best,

    FG
    It depends on the context ... in what way is the term or label "public figure" important?

    If you Google your state + law + "public figure" you will get a horde of links that explain the issues. I did that for CA and got a bunch. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q...blic+figure%22


    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What Defines A "Public Figure"?

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
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    It depends on the context ... in what way is the term or label "public figure" important?

    - Carl

    Carl, I am greatly assuming the poster meant in a "defamation" context, since they mentiond BOTH public figures and public officials.

    To the original poster, read the Sullivan case and the Welch case. Also, as I stated, STATE defamation laws are quite important also.


    http://www.umt.edu/journalism/studen...law/libel.html

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: What Defines A "Public Figure"?

    Quote Quoting BOR
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    Carl, I am greatly assuming the poster meant in a "defamation" context, since they mentiond BOTH public figures and public officials.

    To the original poster, read the Sullivan case and the Welch case. Also, as I stated, STATE defamation laws are quite important also.


    http://www.umt.edu/journalism/studen...law/libel.html
    I suspect you are right. Hence the Google idea. I found hundreds of hits with great discussions for just California when I did it. I imagine the OP's state could also be Googled and he can find plenty of info for how HIS state defines it under different contexts.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    End of Watch: Deputy Danny Oliver

    End of Watch: Detective Michael Davis, Jr.

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