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Statute of Limitations for Online Defamation

Some courts in California have suggested that the Uniform Single Publication Act (“USPA”) applies to online defamation claims. Essentially, this means that the discovery rule does not apply and there is a one year statute of limitations for online defamation claims. As such, online defamation claims brought after one year from the date of posting or defamation, may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, regardless of whether you were aware that the defamatory material existed.

San Francisco small business reputation and economic advantage may also be the target of defamation. Although there is no case law on point, one could argue that the Uniform Single Publication Act should not be applied so broadly to the “web” or “internet,” and instead courts should take into account the particular website when considering whether to apply the Uniform Single Publication Act to online defamation cases – this is because Courts may have discretion to reason that each time a review site is loaded, a new broadcast appears, such that a new claim is triggered.

If the USPA does apply, however, and if someone posts a defamatory review of you or your small business on a less popular review site, the defamatory review may lie dormant, and go unseen, especially if the review site does not rank well in organic search results.

However, the statute of limitations will have begun to run at the time of the posting, and the clock is ticking. Failure to act within one year from the date of posting may bar you forever from getting the defamatory content removed, as some courts have held.

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