Libel is defamation in a permanent form.

Libel is defamation in a permanent form for example in writing but also in films Youssoupoff v MGM Pictures Ltd (1934), or a waxed effigy in a museum Monson v Tussauds (1894).


The present law distinguishes between permanent and transitory statements but the law is probably no longer adequate due to the modern advances in technology . The Faulks report in 1975  did in fact recommend that the distinction is dispensed with. The distinction has been done away with by most commonwealth jurisdictions. However the Defamation Act 1996 did not take the opportunity to do away with the distinction.


Films can be found to be libellous, as in Youssoupoff v MGM Pictures Ltd (1934).


Radio and television programmes can be found to  be libellous under  the Defamation Act 1952 and the Broadcasting Act 1990.


A public performance of a play can be found to  be libellous under Sec 4 of the Theatres Act 1968.


A Wax effigy can be found to  be libellous, as in Monson v Tussauds (1894).


Recordings such as CDs and vinyls are less easy to categorise.


Libel is a tort but can sometimes amount to a crime (R v Lemon (1977).


Before leaving the subject of libel and defamation generally it is worth noting that the Defamation Act 2013 came into force on the 14 January 214. The aims of the 2013 Act are to curtail the effects of our defamation laws on freedom of expression and legitimate discussion and debate.


The new measures include:


  • the introduction of a “serious harm threshold” in order to discourage the wasteful use of the courts' time;


  • scientists and academics will be entitled to protection for publishing peer-reviewed material in scientific and academic journals;


  • libel tourism to be discouraged by a more robust approach by our courts for claims involving little connection to England and Wales;


  • a new process aimed at resolving the dispute with the party who has posted the statement by helping potential victims of defamation online;


  • the introduction of a single-publication rule to prevent repeated claims against the publisher about the same material.



Defamation Act 2013 -


Libel reform | Law | The Guardian

Defamation Act 2013 — UK Parliament

Defamation Act reforms libel law - Press releases - GOV.UK

BBC News - Carmarthenshire blogger libel case judgement reserved

The defamation bill is now in thrall to a politically motivated Leveson

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