Florida Senate - 2024                                    SB 1086
       By Senator Garcia
       36-00575-24                                           20241086__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to defamation; creating s. 770.001,
    3         F.S.; providing applicability; amending s. 770.05,
    4         F.S.; providing proper venue in a county where
    5         defamatory material was accessed by a third party;
    6         making technical changes; creating s. 770.09, F.S.;
    7         providing that publication of certain media forms the
    8         basis of a defamation action; creating s. 770.11,
    9         F.S.; providing a short title; defining terms;
   10         prohibiting journalists and media outlets from
   11         knowingly publishing or disseminating a false
   12         narrative or defamatory material about a public
   13         figure; providing that quotes or soundbites out of
   14         context are considered a violation; providing
   15         applicability; providing an alternative standard of
   16         proof for actions where the defendant does not
   17         identify the source of the defamatory material or when
   18         the defamatory action is unrelated to a plaintiff’s
   19         status as a public figure; requiring journalists and
   20         media outlets to offer public figures all conditions,
   21         rights, and remedies found in law; providing
   22         applicability; providing severability; providing an
   23         effective date.
   25  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   27         Section 1. Section 770.001, Florida Statutes, is created to
   28  read:
   29         770.001 Definition.—As used in this chapter, an action for
   30  defamation includes actions for libel, slander, false
   31  narratives, and related causes of action.
   32         Section 2. Section 770.05, Florida Statutes, is amended to
   33  read:
   34         770.05 Venue for defamation actions Limitation of choice of
   35  venue.—
   36         (1) A No person may not shall have more than one choice of
   37  venue for damages for libel or slander, invasion of privacy, or
   38  any other tort founded upon any single publication, exhibition,
   39  or utterance, such as any one edition of a newspaper, book, or
   40  magazine, any one presentation to an audience, any one broadcast
   41  over radio or television, or any one exhibition of a motion
   42  picture. Recovery in any action includes shall include all
   43  damages for any such tort suffered by the plaintiff in all
   44  jurisdictions.
   45         (2) Venue for a cause of action for defamation is proper in
   46  a county identified in s. 47.011, including any county where the
   47  defamatory material is accessed by a third party.
   48         Section 3. Section 770.09, Florida Statutes, is created to
   49  read:
   50         770.09 Defamation by publication of photograph, video, or
   51  audio recording.—The publication of a photograph, video, or
   52  audio recording, regardless of whether altered or unaltered, may
   53  form the basis of a defamation action.
   54         Section 4. Section 770.11, Florida Statutes, is created to
   55  read:
   56         770.11Defamation of public figures.
   57         (1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the
   58  “Protection of Public Figures from False Narratives and
   59  Defamation Law.”
   60         (2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
   61         (a) “Defamation” means a false statement that harms a
   62  public figure’s reputation, including both written and spoken
   63  statements. For the purpose of the act, defamation includes
   64  statements from a public figure taken out of context.
   65         (b) “False narrative” means intentionally misleading or
   66  inaccurate representations of a public figure’s actions,
   67  statements, or character to place them in a false light.
   68         (c) “Journalist” means a person regularly engaged in
   69  collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing,
   70  reporting, or publishing news, for gain or livelihood, who seeks
   71  and obtains information while working as an employee of, or
   72  independent contractor for, a media outlet.
   73         (d) “Media outlet” means a newspaper, news journal, news
   74  agency, press association, wire service, radio or television
   75  station, streaming platform, network, or news magazine.
   76         (e) “Public figure” means a notable person of public
   77  interest or familiarity, including, but not limited to, a
   78  government official, politician, celebrity, business leader,
   79  movie star, or athlete.
   82  outlet may not knowingly publish or disseminate a false
   83  narrative or defamatory material about a public figure. For the
   84  purposes of this section, taking a quote or soundbite out of
   85  context or out of sequence to create a false narrative, is
   86  considered a violation of this section.
   87         (a) A defamatory allegation is made with actual malice for
   88  purposes of a defamation action if any of the following apply:
   89         1. The defamatory allegation is fabricated by the
   90  defendant, is the product of his or her imagination, is based
   91  wholly on an unverified, anonymous report, or based on
   92  statements made by the plaintiff when said out of context.
   93         2. The defamatory allegation is so inherently improbable
   94  that only a reckless person would put it into circulation.
   95         3. The defamatory allegation was made using the plaintiff’s
   96  own words taken out of context to create a false narrative or
   97  defamatory material.
   98         4. The defamatory allegation was based on an informant or
   99  an informant’s report, and there are obvious reasons to doubt
  100  the veracity of the informant or his or her report. Obvious
  101  reasons exist to doubt the veracity of a report if:
  102         a. There is sufficient contrary evidence that was known or
  103  should have been known to the defendant after a reasonable
  104  investigation;
  105         b. The informant has a history of being unreliable or
  106  untruthful; or
  107         c. The report is inherently improbable or implausible on
  108  its face, and is not presented as satire.
  109         (b) If the actual malice standard otherwise applies to a
  110  defamation action in which the defendant does not identify the
  111  source for the defamatory material, the plaintiff need only
  112  prove that the defendant acted negligently in making the
  113  defamatory material.
  114         (c) In a defamation action based on alleged defamatory
  115  material that does not relate to the reasons for the plaintiff’s
  116  status as a public figure, the plaintiff need only prove that
  117  the defendant acted negligently in making, repeating, or
  118  republishing the defamatory material.
  120  FOR PUBLIC FIGURES.—A journalist or a media outlet must afford a
  121  public figure all conditions, rights, and remedies required
  122  under ss. 770.01 and 770.02.
  123         (5) SATIRE.—This section does not apply to media
  124  publications or journalists that present a satire or satirical
  125  story regarding or involving a public figure.
  126         (6) SEVERABILITY OF PROVISIONS.—In case any one or more of
  127  the sections or provisions of this act or the application of
  128  such sections or provisions to any situations, circumstances, or
  129  persons shall for any reason be held to be unconstitutional,
  130  such unconstitutionality shall not affect any other sections or
  131  provisions of this act or the applications of such sections or
  132  provisions to any other situations, circumstances, or persons,
  133  and it is intended that this law shall be construed and applied
  134  as if such sections or provisions had not been included herein
  135  for any unconstitutional application.
  136         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.