Lord Ellenborough said: ‘it is not libellous to ridicule a literary composition, or the author of it, in so far as he has embodied himself with his work.
Every man who publishes a book commits himself to the judgment of the public, and anyone may comment upon his performance. If the commentator does not step aside from the work, or introduce fiction for the purpose of condemnation, he exercises a fair and legitimate right. In the present case, had the party writing the criticism followed the plaintiff into domestic life for the purpose of slander, that would have been libellous: but no passage of this sort has been produced; and even the caricature does not effect the plaintiff, except as the author of the book which is ridiculed.’
 1 Camp 354
England and Wales
Approved – Tabart v Tipper 2-Jan-1808
The plaintiff said that the defendant had libelled him by saying that he was in the habit of publishing immoral and foolish books.
Held: It was open to a defendant denying the libel to establish through evidence that the criticism was fair. . .
Cited – Associated Newspapers Ltd v Burstein CA 22-Jun-2007
The newspaper appealed an award of damages for defamation after its theatre critic’s review of an opera written by the claimant. The author said the article made him appear to sympathise with terrorism.
Held: The appeal succeeded. Keene LJ . .
Approved – Kemsley v Foot CA 14-Dec-1950
Pleading of Fair Comment Defence
The plaintiff newspaper proprietor complained that the defendant had defamed him in a publication ‘The Tribune’ with a headline to an article ‘Lower than Hemsley’ which article otherwise had no connection with the plaintiff. He said it suggested . .
Cited – Kemsley v Foot HL 25-Feb-1952
Fair Comment Crticism of Newspaper Publisher
The plaintiff alleged that the headline to an article written by the defendant which criticised the behaviour of the Beaverbrook Press, and which read ‘Lower than Kemsley’ was defamatory. The defendant pleaded fair comment. The plaintiff appealed. . .
Cited – Prince Albert v Strange ChD 8-Feb-1849
The Prince sought to restrain publication of otherwise unpublished private etchings and lists of works by Queen Victoria. The etchings appeared to have been removed surreptitiously from or by one Brown. A personal confidence was claimed.
Held: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Defamation, Intellectual Property
Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.253556