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.

Fair Report Privilege

California courts have codified the fair report privilege in Cal. Civil Code §47(d) and (e). The privilege generally applies to publicly available government records, official government reports, and statements made by government officials.

Neutral Reportage Privilege

The California Supreme Court has not formally recognized the neutral reportage privilege. Nevertheless, several federal courts have applied the neutral report privilege in cases involved California law and there are relatively strong indications that state courts in California would apply the privilege if faced with the proper fact pattern.

The California Supreme Court indicated a possible willingness to consider the neutral report privilege in the context of public figure defamation. In that case, which involved an allegation that the plaintiff, a private citizen, participated in the Robert Kennedy assassination when he was 21 years old, the California Supreme Court held that the neutral report privilege did not apply to cases where the plaintiff was a private figure. Khawar v. Globe International, 19 Cal. 4th 254, 271 (Cal. 1998). The court left open the question, however, whether the neutral report privilege would apply if the defamatory statement involved a public figure.

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