Blogger’s Liability: More Bad News
Kent, over at Newsome.org reports:
Lawsuit a Shot Across the Bow of Bloggers?
In a lawsuit that should be required reading for bloggers, a Florida jury has awarded $11.3M in damages to a woman who says she was defamed on an internet message board.
Legal scholars say this verdict could have an impact on bloggers. From the Washington Times article linked above:
“This case sends a signal that if you were going to write blog entries, that you need to, like any other journalist, be aware of what you write,” said Michael J. Songer, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a partner at D.C. law firm Crowell & Moring LLP. “It could have a chilling effect when people have to sit down and worry about losing their house.”
There is at least some potential good news for bloggers. According to experts, there is a distinction between content written by a blogger and content posted by readers in comments.
Robert O’Neil, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law and director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, said in the article linked above that while newspapers are liable for all published content, bloggers and Web site operators are liable for only their own content and not that of those who post comments.
There are circumstances that mitigate against the implications of this case for bloggers, such as the fact that the defendant, who had been driven from her home by Hurricane Katrina, didn’t appear in court to defend herself. Nevertheless, this is a relevant factor to consider as the distinction between bloggers and traditional journalists continues to blur.
Filed under: law, instabloke, blogging