Anti Defamation Clause – Protect your Reputation

 

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. My post should not be considered as a substitute for legal advice. Use your own discretion.

Recently i have added a new clause to my service contract. The clause to protect myself from ‘libel’ and ‘slander’. libel is defamation done through written words and ‘slander’ is defamation done through spoken words. Defamation is a term used for any statement that hurts your reputation. This statement can be in writing, spoken words or even pictured. So when on a social medium like forum, a person accuses a company of rip-off , then the statement can be considered to libel. A libel is generally considered to be more offending/harmful than a slander as it has a longer life (it remains as written words unless removed). This mean you can claim for high damages in case of ‘libel’.

How to establish defamation occurred?

1. Prove that defamatory statement was published i.e. made public. In case of ‘libel’, screen shorts work well. In case of ‘slander’, audio or video recording works well.

2. Prove that defamatory statement is false. If you are not able to prove that, you are not entitled for any damages. Go home, eat burger and forget.

3.Prove that defamatory statement injured your reputation like you lost clients, chucked out by the wife, thrown out from the family,  kicked out of the society. You got my point.

 

What to do next?

In reality it is not easy to prove defamation. Because the law guys have to protect ‘freedom of speech’ too and they don’t want people to live in a constant fear of being sued by someone for making a statement in public.  However this is all the inside story and only for you. On the surface even threats of ‘defamation’ lawsuit give creeps and we can take advantage of that fear by including ‘anti defamation clause’ in the service contract. The aim is to avert the client to not to defame you publicly and not to actually go ahead and sue him. This is the lingo which you can copy paste in your contract:

Client agree not to attack/criticize [Your Company Name] and any of its employee, associate or partner publicly (on public forums, blogs, social networks etc) at any time during or subsequent to contract period. Similarly client agrees not to seek for seo advice on seo forums, blogs, community groups or any social media in a way which brings bad name to the company or any of its employee, associate or partner. In case of breach of this clause, client agrees to pay US$ ________ to [Your Company Name] as damages.



To know more about contract laws:

If anyone has more information about the anti defamation clause, please share.

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  • http://searchbenefit.com Search Benefit

    I dunno, Himanshu, are you not worried this clause suggests to that you may be doubting your own ability to deliver? Otherwise why would you need such a clause. In other words, it may lose you some clients.

    Philip

    • seo himanshu

      I don’t think so. Every big company like Nike has such clauses in their contract. This clause is required because people sometimes deliberately say bad things about a business in public out of fit of frustration/anger or to settle scores. When they attack your reputation they attack your livelihood. There is no issue which can’t be resolved through talks in private. There is no need to go in public. It takes years to build good reputation but only few minutes to ruin it.

    • jitendar

      well we have to do something to protect ourselves from defamation. Just can’t sit and hope that client won’t write bad things about us or our business all over the net.

  • jitendar

    defamatory on the web is pain. thanks for the clause himanshu. Michael Graywolf wrote a similar post: Dealing With a “Scam” Listing For Your Company Name in the SERPs: http://www.wolf-howl.com/seo/dealing-with-a-scam-listing/

    • Amit

      thanks for the link. Michael himself has said that “it’s inevitable that some will say something negative about you and you need a strategy to deal with it”. So i guess that answers the Philip question.

  • Mike

    I just did some research and found that defamation against the goods or services of a company/business comes in the ‘trade libel’ category. So whatever you have said is quite true. you can also get insurance to cover defamation claims and public figures can’t win defamation law suit easily.

  • William Cross

    The only people who have any need for any such clause are the fly-by-night here today-gone tomorrow scumbags who can not deliver what they promise. Sorry, but those people should have their computers confiscated in the first place.

    • seo himanshu

      fly by night operators don’t do contracts in the first place. since they have no identity, so they don’t need to protect any reputation :)

  • http://Website anon.

    Don’t listen to the naysayers, Himanshu. I’m facing some dastardly stuff a former staff member did. Their trying to ruin my credibility with clients because they’re angry. And encouraging clients to ask for certain refunds and such. My lawyer said I’d have a stronger case if I actually had an agreement in place, like this. Good info.

  • http://Website ajolkaaa2

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