Section 44 of the California Civil Code defines Defamation in two forms. Libel is the written form (including photos and other permanent writings, such as an Internet-defamatory statement). Slander is oral defamation.
California Civil Code Section 45 defines Slander as “a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communicated by radio or any mechanical or other means which:
- Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for a crime;
- Imputes in him the present existence of an infection, contagious, or loathsome disease;
- Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
- Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
- Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.
California Civil Code Section 46 defines Slander’s cousin, Libel, as “a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which as a tendency to injure him in his occupation.
These relatively straightforward definitions carry many special legal meanings, but give an overview of the two forms defamation takes in California.