Most of the privileges and defenses to defamation can be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted with actual malice. The fair report privilege is the exception to this rule; it cannot be defeated by a showing of actual malice.

Fair Report Privilege

New York has codified the fair report privilege into law. N.Y. Civ. Rights § 74. Under the statute, speakers cannot be held liable for giving a "fair and true report of any judicial proceeding, legislative proceeding or other official proceeding." A report is "fair and true" if it is substantially accurate.

Wire Service Defense

New York recognizes a privilege that is similar to the wire service defense but explicitly extends protection to content originating from other sources in addition to wire services. Jewell v. NYP Holdings, Inc., 23 F.Supp.2d 348 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). Under the privilege, courts will not hold republishers liable for reproducing defamatory content unless the republisher had or should have had "substantial reasons" to question the content's accuracy or the original speaker's good faith and reporting practices. See Karaduman v. Newsday, Inc., 51 N.Y.2d 531 (N.Y. 1980). Because courts applying these principles have dealt exclusively with traditional media entities such as newspapers and book publishers -- both as publishers and republishers -- it is not clear whether this privilege would apply to online speakers such as bloggers and citizen media websites.

Neutral Reportage Privilege

The status of the neutral reportage privilege in New York is not settled. The New York Court of Appeals has neither recognized nor rejected the privilege, and the lower courts disagree on whether it is part of New York law.

Statute of Limitations for Defamation

The statute of limitations for defamation in New York in one (1) year. See N.Y. C.P.L.R. 215(3).

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