Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Yonathan A. Arbel, University of Alabama School of Law, has published Slicing Defamation by Contract at Chicago Law Review Online (2020). Here is the abstract.
In considering the problem of fake news, many debate the merits of expanding media liability through the tort doctrine of defamation. In this Essay I present an alternative: assigning liability for false accusations by contract. I develop and examine the utility of using truth bounties — contractual agreements to pay a bounty to anyone who can falsify a story. On reflection, contractual tools appear more productive and robust than tort liability; in particular, truth bounties can encourage responsible media reporting, crowd-source the search for truth, send a refined signal of trust in the story, and chill false reports. Truth bounties are also realistic and compatible with the incentives of media outlets, although some of the procedural details need to be developed for mass adoption.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.