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  1. #1
    smart-alex is offline Junior Member
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    Libel - Defamation - Statue of Limitations?

    In New York State (also all US & Canada)
    In 2002, I was interviewed for a VH1 music documentary about a famous recording artist and my time with her as her first Record Producer years earlier. In the hour-long show, I told the story of how my wife at the time, (now my ex-wife) disliked the female artist and eventually compelled me to drop her presenting me with an ultimatum "either she goes or I leave you". I also talk about small physical confrontation between my wife and the artist. In retrospect, I chose badly. I dropped the artist. (by the way my relationship with the singer was strictly professional)

    In the VH1 interview, I said nothing negative in the story about the recording artist. The then-unknown singer went on to huge international fame and great fortune.

    The story simply points out how my wife turned her back on that budding artist. So, my story, at worst, may portray my ex as demonstrating a lack of vision. I did not actually say that but merely reported the bad blood between the parties.

    The documentary was shown on several occasions on VH1 and MUCH Music in Canada back in 2002 and rerun later.

    I recently wrote my autobio covering my time in broadcasting and the record business. I tell that same story. I assumed (maybe incorrectly) that since that show aired 10 years ago and nobody sued me or VH1, that I am unlikely now to be sued...by the artist OR my ex. In other words, is there a "statute of limitations" and is this now "public domain" as someone suggested recently?

    Smart-Alex (not so much)
  2. #2
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by smart-alex View Post
    In New York State (also all US & Canada)
    In 2002, I was interviewed for a VH1 music documentary about a famous recording artist and my time with her as her first Record Producer years earlier. In the hour-long show, I told the story of how my wife at the time, (now my ex-wife) disliked the female artist and eventually compelled me to drop her presenting me with an ultimatum "either she goes or I leave you". I also talk about small physical confrontation between my wife and the artist. In retrospect, I chose badly. I dropped the artist. (by the way my relationship with the singer was strictly professional)

    In the VH1 interview, I said nothing negative in the story about the recording artist. The then-unknown singer went on to huge international fame and great fortune.

    The story simply points out how my wife turned her back on that budding artist. So, my story, at worst, may portray my ex as demonstrating a lack of vision. I did not actually say that but merely reported the bad blood between the parties.

    The documentary was shown on several occasions on VH1 and MUCH Music in Canada back in 2002 and rerun later.

    I recently wrote my autobio covering my time in broadcasting and the record business. I tell that same story. I assumed (maybe incorrectly) that since that show aired 10 years ago and nobody sued me or VH1, that I am unlikely now to be sued...by the artist OR my ex. In other words, is there a "statute of limitations" and is this now "public domain" as someone suggested recently?

    Smart-Alex (not so much)
    As you recently wrote your autobio, you are open to lawsuits by anyone who chooses to sue you, since anyone can sue anyone for any reason. There are frivolous lawsuits that happen all the time. Having said that, I don't think anyone could successfully litigate a defamation suit against you based on what you posted.
  3. #3
    smart-alex is offline Junior Member
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    Statute of limitations

    Thanks. It's funny but I had a similar conversation once with the same ex-wife about lawsuits. I said once that anyone can sue us for anything. She said that was not true. I did suggest that even though someone could launch a lawsuit it doesn't mean they could be successful. Same situation here I guess.

    Any opinion on "statute of limitations." In other words can someone come back at me for something I said publicly 10 years ago?
  4. #4
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    How recently did you publish your autobiography? Did you publish it through a major publishing house or did you self-publish? Where was it published? Is it available for sale in both the U.S. and Canada?

    It is possible, yes, that you could be sued over the content of your autobiography, even if the material published in the autobiography was also published ten years ago in a documentary. No defamation suit can arise from the content of the documentary but a defamation suit can potentially arise from republication of documentary content in book form (you can google "doctrine of republication").

    The documentary would not be in the public domain and I am not sure what the public domain has to do with anything.

    The statute of limitations for defamation in New York is one year from the date of first publication - a suit must be filed within one year from the date your book is first published. In Ontario (and when the defendant in a defamation action is not the media), a plaintiff needs to file a claim within two years from the date he/she first becomes aware of the defamatory material. See Canada's Limitations Act, 2002 for a fuller explanation and, for more information on defamation law in Ontario, refer to the Libel and Slander Act.

    Because there have been changes in the lives of those about whom you are writing, there could potentially be a greater chance of a suit now than there was at the time of the making of the documentary, when the artist was unknown and when you were (happily) married. How great the odds are of any suit materializing now over the same material is impossible to say without knowing all of the details, without knowing the people involved, and without reading the text of your autobiography.

    You may wish to speak with an attorney in your area for a personal review.
    Last edited by quincy; 11-04-2012 at 08:51 PM.

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