Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


The common law has not looked favorably upon republishers of defamatory material, believing that "one who republishes a libel adopts it as his own." Starting from the fair report privilege and moving to the wire service defense and neutral reportage, courts have gradually carved out niches of protection for republishers. This Article first analyzes the wire service defense and proposes that it should be expanded to cover republished stories about public and private figures from reliable publications. After examining the history of neutral reportage, this Article then proposes a new constitutional privilege: Media defendants may rely on the privilege of neutral reportage where they accurately republish any defamatory statement made by or about a public figure, as long as attribution to and identification of the source are made.