Keep in mind that the republication of someone else's defamatory statement can itself be defamatory. In other words, you won't be immune simply because you are quoting another person making the defamatory statement, even if you properly attribute the statement to it's source. For example, if you quote a witness to a traffic accident who says the driver was drunk when he ran the red light and it turns out the driver wasn't drunk and he had a green light, you can't hide behind the fact that you were merely republishing the witness' statement (which would likely be defamatory).
On the other hand, if you repeat what someone else said or wrote in an official hearing or official document, there’s an important privilege that may protect you provided you attribute the information you gathered and are accurate in your reporting. See the section on Defamation Privileges and Defenses for information on this, and other, privileges.
There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that may protect YOU if a third party – not you or your employee or someone acting under your direction – posts something on your blog or website that is defamatory. We cover this protection in more detail in the section on Publishing the Statements and Content of Others.
Damages for Defamation
In most states, the plaintiff must also prove that the defamatory statement caused him or her actual damage. Actual damages include such things as the loss of a job because of the defamatory statement, but can also include mental anguish or suffering associated with the defamation. Some jurisdictions also recognize "per se" defamation, where damage is presumed if the defamatory statement relates to one of the following subjects:
Impugns a person's professional character or standing;
States or implies that an unmarried person is unchaste (e.g., is sexually active);