Criticised for its blurred technicalities, complex requirements and onerous defences, defamation is one of the most arcane laws in history.

Remember when Pauline Hanson sued the ABC in the late ‘90s because triple j played Pauline Pantsdown’s ‘I’m a Backdoor Man’? Granted, the song essentially said Hanson was a transvestite and the song wasn’t played again, but recently defamation cases have gotten all the more peculiar:

In 2014, a Turkish columnist was hit with a 10-month prison sentence for a tweet about the country’s Prime Minister. The post – which when translated spelt out ‘my chief’ as ‘fuck you’ – was a typo.

To better understand defamation law in today’s digital music industry, we met with one of Australia’s leading entertainment, media and technology solicitors, Brett Oaten.

From diss tracks, mean tweets and publishing screen shots from Facebook, the former band manager helps clear up a few blurred lines.


You can’t say whatever you want on social media

The starting point is that defamation is a law which prevents you from saying things about people that would cause the average person to think less of them.