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January 8, 2007

German Blogger Sued in China

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The Internet transcends geographic boundaries, and this means people can reach out to others regardless of location or distance. However, this also means that the principles governing legal matters might also need re-thinking. For instance, legal jurisdiction is not as easily established as with cases wherein the parties involved are within the same political boundaries.

Laws like the DMCA (among many others) base jurisdiction upon the actual physical location of data -usually the laws in the country where the host server resides would apply. Parties who wish to circumvent such laws usually choose to host offshore (in neutral territory, or one without relevant laws). However, when it’s not the legality of the data itself that’s being debated, but acts done by individuals, then it becomes more complicated. And things become more interesting as people and companies continue to test the limits of the legal systems in various countries.

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April 29, 2006

Maine blogger sued by Ad Agency and why there are two sides to every story

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Lance Dutson, who blogs at Maine Web Report was sued this week by Warren Kremer Paino Advertising for reporting that Dutston had posted to his blog about the Maine Office of Tourism.

Lance writes about the core of the story:

Here’€™s the ad they’€™re suing me for showing, an ad I pulled from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development website, that features a phone sex number instead of the real number to call for Maine tourism information:

So instead of owning up to the mistake, they’€™re suing me. This isn’€™t going to work.

Dutson is a member of the Media Bloggers Association, a group formed to support the development of blogging as a distinct form of journalism. Their President, Robert Cox, had this to say about the case:

This case is nothing more than an attempt by a deep-pocketed litigant to bully a blogger for criticizing state officials and state contractors. We have successfully defended MBA members in nine previous cases and I don’t expect the outcome here to be be any different.

On the surface, and without reading the details of the case this morning, this seems like an absurd lawsuit primarily due to the inability of some to own up to a mistake. Publishing a phone sex line in a tourism ad is a pretty major mistake, especially for a state tourism agency.

This story is being discussed widely discussed widely throughout the blogosphere currently. Most bloggers have instantly jumped in to support Dutson.

Blogger Scott Johnson, formerly of Feedster, took a different approach and called Tom McCartin of Warren Kremer Paino in order to get the other side of the story:

The issue isn’€™t free speech; its manipulation of Google and how the search engine results are presenting his business to the world. Now that’€™s something I can understand. I’€™m a business owner too. I’€™d never go to the level of a lawsuit personally but that’€™s due to how I feel about the U.S. legal system

Even after his conversation with Mr. McCartin, Johnson still feels that the lawsuit is a mistake and offers to donate to Dutson’s legal defense fund, if one is setup.

The real lesson here though for bloggers is that to be taken seriously as media, bloggers need to be willing to attempt to get both sides of the story. Johnson is the only blogger that I’m aware of that took the time to pick up the phone and listen to the other side of the story in order to truly understand – and then to write a post explaining why he chose to support Dutson.

August 27, 2005

Blogger sued over comments left on Blog

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The guru behind SEO Book Aaron Wall (who for the record is also advertising here with BlogAds) is being sued by Traffic-Power.com in relation to comments left on his blog by other people.

More details on Aarons blog here. Intuitive Systems also has more details. Robert Scoble, in a fit of insanity is suggesting that the solution is to moderate or turn off your comments. How bout free speech Scoble?

If successful the case has the potential to cause major upheaval in the blogosphere as comments would need to be filtered in cases where there was even the slightest chance someone might sue or find the comment offensive or disagree with it.

Mght be time to update the disclosure and editorial statement.

February 4, 2008

Real estate blogger being sued for $25m for alleged libel

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Seems you have to be very careful what you blog for. Even if your life isn’t in danger, your wallet could be.

Reports suggest that a Miami-based Real Estate developer is being sued for twenty-five million dollars over some negative comments he made on his personal blog.

According to “How to Split an Atom”:

In a posting, he spoke poorly of the Opera Tower, a condo owned by a developer, one Tibor Hollo.

Tibor believes that Lucas’ post constitutes Libel. Lucas stated that the development company responsible for the Opera went Bankrupt during the 1980s and that future buyers should be weary [sic] of dealing with them.

Tibor says the company never went Bankrupt… and says that Lucas’ post has been seriously detrimental to his business.

Of course, anyone could have written this, though I can’t help thinking that a traditional journalist would have simply had to print a retraction.

Perhaps it’s the nature of blogs, that they “hang around” online for much longer than a print newspaper does.

With ridiculous legal challenges like this springing up, it’s not surprising that many businesses are so nervous of blogging.

Downright irresponsible blogging, like any form of public writing, should be held accountable, but surely this case is beyond a joke?

(Via How to Split an Atom)

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January 4, 2006

Minnesota political blogger being sued for defamation

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A Democratic public relations consultant is suing a Republican blogger for defamation in a case that AP says could offer a key test of the First Amendment rights of bloggers.

AP reports that the lawsuit pits Blois Olson, the president of PR firm New School Communications and a well-known Democratic political commentator, against Michael Brodkorb, a Republican operative who publishes the blog “Minnesota Democrats Exposed.”

In the suit, Olson disputes a series of postings made by Brodkorb last week about criticisms Olson made of the congressional campaign of Democrat Coleen Rowley. Brodkorb wrote that an anonymous source told him that the Rowley campaign refused to hire New School Communications for consulting work, prompting Brodkorb to ask why Olson didn’t disclose that when he criticized Rowley in several news stories.

January 3, 2006

Blogger Threatened to be Sued by Sozialgericht Bremen for Appearing in Google

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A German blogger, Bjoern Harste has received a Cease & Desist letter from the Sozialgericht Bremen, a court of law for dealing with cases in the area of German social services for having one of his blog posts appear in the Google results top ten for ‘€œSozialgericht Bremen’€?.

Sozialgericht Bremen wants Bjoern to stop using the words ‘€œSozialgericht Bremen’€? in his archive. Bizarre really because it was in a post in relation to it, so they are actually asking that a blogger not refer to them. Bjoern complied by removing the unwanted words, but publsihed the Sozialgericht’€™s full C&D, asking for help from lawyers.

(via Google Blogscoped)

May 20, 2005

Golf bloggers sued by course owner: allegations of extorion

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Las Vegas golf course owner Billy Walters is suing Travel Golf Media and two of its bloggers, amid allegations of extortion.

Walters claims that Travel Golf Media, a golfing portal that includes a number of blogs, has “intentionally interfered with Walters Golf’s prospective economic advantage by persuading patrons, based on false statements, not to patronize” Walters’ golf courses.

He also claims that Travel Golf Media threatened to author and post negative reviews of Walters Golf courses unless Walters Golf agreed to a new contract at an increased advertising rate in February 2005.

The blogs on TravelGolf.com started attacking Walters’ courses the same month.

In a sign of poor form, Robert Lewis of Travel Golf Media told Las Vegas City Life that they had been censoring negative reviews of Walters courses on their blogs for the period of the previous advertising contract, but the practice ceased when the advertising did and that this explained the sudden appearance of negative stories.

February 10, 2013

Blogger’s Guide to Creative Commons: In Pictures

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Bloggers are inevitably obsessed with the topic of creative commons, and if they aren’t yet, they will be soon. Why? Well, if you have ever seen the cost of subscriptions for stock photo sights, you wouldn’t have to ask that question. They are expensive, often offer nothing special and in general don’t cut it for most casual bloggers that don’t want to spend cash on what is essentially a place for their thoughts.

Using public domain or CC licensed content is the perfect way around that. You can use photos and videos as you like, not worrying about the cost or being sued for copyright. Which is ever bloggers wost nightmare, thanks to the many horror stories we are subjected to on the web. read more

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August 5, 2011

5 Legal Guides Every Blogger Should Read

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Image of Law BooksAs we’ve discussed previously on this site, being a blogger can be very risky legally. With a slew of potential legal issues including copyright, defamation, trademark, privacy and much more, there are many ways a well-meaning blogger can find themselves being sued.

To make matters worse, there’s a great deal of conflicting and confusing information on the Web and what good information there is, generally, is scattered across multiple pages and sites. This makes learning about the law difficult and means you can spend a great deal of time just trying to keep yourself out of court.

Fortunately, several bloggers and blogging-related organizations have worked hard to produce legal guides that give you a good breadth of information in a simple, single work that you can easily read or search through.

With that in mind, here are five of the best of those guides, what’s in them and how they can be useful in helping you protect yourself and your rights. read more

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June 20, 2011

5 False Legal Threats Bloggers Routinely Face

Legally, blogging can be a very scary activity. Since few bloggers are acquainted with media law before setting up their first site, they are dealing with issues of trademark, copyright, libel, privacy, etc. when they have little understanding of the law itself.

This, often times, creates problems where a blogger oversteps a legal boundary and finds themselves either being sued or threatened with legal action. However, it also can create the reverse problem, one where the blogger is threatened with legal action when they haven’t done anything against the law.

To be clear, in the U.S., anyone can sue anyone for any reason at any time. If your sole purpose is to avoid a lawsuit, being within the law is, unfortunately, no protection. There’s always a chance you could have to spend the time and money to defend yourself in court.

However, if you have a more practical goal of not being hit with a lawsuit that has a chance of success, you still don’t want to give in needlessly to false legal threats. With that in mind, here are five of the more common false legal threats that bloggers face and why they carry no weight. read more

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