From the “I’m no expert, but…” file

* Ahem *

It would take a blind man, or one with work/hobbies to get on with instead, to avoid noticing all the talk about legal liability that folks might incur as the “owner”/”publisher” of a blog or forum. Serious stuff really, when some people say that just by allowing comments on your blog you are potentialy opening yourself up to potential liability for actionable defamation and such things.

My policy has been to allow comments by anyone and so far the only one’s I’ve removed have been spam. I must have a well-behaved readership, or something. :D

Anyhoo, here’s a resource that gives some pretty good news on the subject: the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s Legal Guide For Bloggers. The best news is that even if you don’t have a blog then it’s an interesting read all the same. For example, you can learn why a person included on a list of “Top Ten Dumbasses” lost their case for libel. More seriously the page on Section 230 is an essential read.

Like I say though, I’m no expert. But these people certainly seem to know what they’re talking about.


2 thoughts on “From the “I’m no expert, but…” file

  1. “Top Ten Dumbasses” is an excellent read. This part caught my eyes:

    Plaintiffs repeatedly emphasize that defendant’s website was “anonymous,” without explaining the intended meaning or significance of that characterization. While a speaker’s attempt to remain anonymous might have some logical relevance in an otherwise colorable defamation action, it does not categorically dispel the protections of the First Amendment. On the contrary, “the First Amendment right of freedom of speech includes the right to remain anonymous.” (Huntley v. Public Util. Com. (1968) 69 Cal.2d 67, 73, italics added.)

  2. Hi David,

    All journalists should know this stuff IMHO, and respect the rights of people everywhere not to be unfairly smeared.

    Great links. Good to know that I can call someone a dumb ass!

    I’ve done a bit of research also and California law is very different because of their anti-SLAPP law.

    But hey, it’s all evolving via caselaw . . .


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