Libel Laws Protect the Value of Your Reputation or Brand

Here’s a transcript of Steve Simpson’s comments on libel laws:

Steve Simpson: But yeah, libel laws in my view are proper. It’s a big, complicated topic. The way I think about it is: You have a right to the value that you have created in your own reputation — or if you think about it from the standpoint of a company, in your brand. Now it’s, again, it’s a complicated issue. But you can take an example of what happened to Johnson & Johnson in the 1980s when somebody poisoned Tylenol. And think about the damage that was done to Johnson & Johnson — it took them years to regain their reputation. Imagine if somebody now said, you know, across the Internet, “I’ve poisoned Tylenol.” Imagine how quickly the stock would plummet, nobody would buy it anymore. There’s real damage there. So, the ultimate issue is if you lie in a way that damages a value that somebody else has created — in this case its reputation, you can think of it almost as an intellectual property right — you can be sued for that. But we have to set the right legal standards for it.

The panelists are Steve Simpson, director of Legal Studies at the Ayn Rand Institute and editor of Defending Free Speech; Flemming Rose, author of Tyranny of Silence: How One Cartoon Ignited a Global Debate on the Future of Free Speech, and Dave Rubin, creator and host of The Rubin Report. The event, “Free Speech Under Attack,” took place at Objectivist Summer Conference 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.