Innocent Dissemination Law and Legal Definition

Innocent Dissemination is a defense available to a person charged for publishing a defamatory statement. The defense of innocent dissemination absolves a person from liability provided, s/he had no knowledge of the defamatory nature of the statement, and that his/her failure to detect the defamatory content was not due to negligence. [Cubby, Inc. v. Compuserve, Inc., 776 F. Supp. 135 (S.D.N.Y. 1991)]

The defense involves three factors:

1. the defendant did not know that the publication complained of contained a libel;

2. the defendant had no grounds to suppose that it was likely to contain defamatory matter; and

3. the absence of knowledge was not due to any negligence on the defendant's part.

The defense of innocent dissemination intendeds to protect peoples like newsagents, booksellers, librarians and internet service providers publishing defamatory matter without negligence on their part.

In Butler v. State Judicial Inquiry Comm'n, 802 So. 2d 207, 218 (Ala. 2001), the court held that “without an intent element or falsity requirement, candidates risk violating the canon for mistaken but innocent dissemination of 'deceiving or misleading' information.”