What Is the Single Publication Rule and What Is the Purpose Behind It ?

In Gregoire v. Putnam's Sons, 298 NY 119, the Court of Appeals (at 123) explained the single publication rule, and the purpose behind it, as follows: "Recognizing that radical changes have been brought about by modern methods of disseminating printed matter for which there is a widespread demand, and desiring to avoid multiplicity of suits and to give effect to statutes of limitation, adjudicated cases disclose that within recent years courts of this State and other jurisdictions have ruled that the publication of a defamatory statement in a single issue of a newspaper, or a single issue of a magazine, although such publication consists of thousands of copies widely distributed, is, in legal effect, one publication which gives rise to one cause of action and that the applicable Statute of Limitation runs from the date of that publication." Under the single publication rule, publication occurs at the time the defamatory article is made available to the public and actual sales of the article (the equivalent of "hits" on the Internet) are unnecessary (Tomasino v. Morrow & Co., 174 AD2d 734, supra; Sorge v. Parade Publs., 20 AD2d 338). A republication will occur when the defamatory article is placed in a new form (paperback as opposed to hardcover) or edited in a different manner (Rinaldi v. Viking Penguin, 52 NY2d 422, 434, 435).