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October 21, 2011

20 Legal Facts Every Blogger Should Know

Courthouse ImageWhen it comes to legal issues, most bloggers are either unaware or misinformed about the laws that they operate under. Unless you studied to be a journalist, publisher or a lawyer, you most likely didn’t get an overview of mass media law. That’s unfortunate because now, with blogging and social media, everyone is a journalist and/or a publisher, at least from a legal perspective.

With that in mind, there is simply way too much to ever cover in one article. However, here is a brief overview of some of the facts that you need to know in order to stay safe online. Obviously, this won’t be in-depth and, if you want more information you should consult an attorney (or at least do further research).

But this should give you an idea of what you should be looking for and what questions you should be asking.

Also, it’s worth noting that these facts are based on U.S. law, if you are outside the country, obviously the situation is going to change.

On that note, here’s a look at 20 legal facts every blogger needs to know: read more

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April 4, 2011

Blogging and the Law: A New Column at the Blog Herald

Hello. My name is Jonathan Bailey. I’m the new guy here at the Blog Herald, once again, and I’m starting up a new column that will be running every Friday targeting the law and blogging. We’ll be tackling some of the major legal issues that bloggers face as they run their sites.

Many of you may already know me from the various sites I have either written for or currently write at. This includes a previous stint here at The Blog Herald, my ongoing Blogging Pitfalls column at BloggingPro, my hosting-related column at WhoIsHostingThis and, of course, my home site of Plagiarism Today, where I talk about copyright and plagiarism issues on the Web.

To be clear, I am not an attorney and nothing in any of my columns should be considered legal advice, but I have studied the law as it applies to mass media for over 12 years, come from a journalism background and have been studying copyright especially closely for over ten.

My goal with this column is to include a variety of pieces including general information pieces about how the law, in particular U.S. law, applies to blogging, legal news and rulings that might affect bloggers and also answer some of your questions as time permits.

With that in mind, here are just a few of the topic areas that this column will cover moving forward: read more

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September 1, 2009

Defamation, Libel and the Internet

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Bruce Everiss is a well-known video game marketer who writes a blog on the topic entitled, quite appropriately, Bruce on Games.

In recent weeks Everiss has been very critical of the online role-playing game Evony, perhaps most famous for it increasingly sexualized ads, and highlighted what he saw as misconduct by both the company behind the game, Evony LLC, and the software itself.

Everiss was always careful to support his allegations with research, either his own or referencing work performed by others, but he nonetheless found himself on the receiving end of a threat of a defamation lawsuit.

While this is not completely out of the ordinary in and of itself, what made Everiss’ case more unusual is that the threat was coming from an Australian solicitor and was threatening action in an Australian court. This is despite the fact that Evony LLC is, by all accounts, a Chinese company and Everiss is a UK-based blogger.

Other authors who have written about Evony, including the UK newspaper The Guardian, have received similar threats. The case is controversial because much of what is being disputed as defamatory is widely viewed as being true, with at least some evidence to support it, or appears to be personal opinion. However, clearly Evony disputes this and calls Everiss’ statements “clearly defamatory” in their letter to him.

But as interesting as the case itself is, it highlights another threat to bloggers, one very similar to what I reported on with copyright and jurisdiction, since works published to the Internet are distributed all over the world, you can defame the reputation of a company and/or a person in any country or jurisdiction. That, in turn, means you can be brought into almost any court in the world for a defamation suit. read more

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April 20, 2009

20 Law-Related Questions Every Blogger Should Know

Though journalism schools are often maligned in the blogging world as producing stale writing, they do teach many valuable lessons that are useful when running your own site.

One of those lessons is a primer in mass media law. By publishing works to the Web, one is essentially performing much of the same function as newspapers and television stations did exclusively just a few decades ago. However, the laws that govern such publications are not taught in most high schools nor most colleges.

So what should a blogger know about the law before they put up their first post? There are many things, certainly more than what can be covered in this post, but here are twenty questions every every blogger should be able to answer. read more

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November 10, 2008

The Sinister Sibling of Paid Reviews

In May of 2005, the Blog Herald reported on the case of Travel Golf Media, a blog and review site that covers golf courses across the country. The company behind the site site, two of its bloggers and its owner, Robert Lewis, were being sued by a Las Vegas golf course owner Billy Watson for defamation after the site had posted a series of negative reviews.

Though disputes over negative reviews are common, what makes this one unique is allegations that the negative reviews were a form of retribution for an advertising arrangement that ended. In a ruling handed down last month, judge Jennifer Togliatti agreed and awarded the golf course and its owner, Billy Walters, a $9 million award for defamation.

Even as Pay-Per-Post and similar paid-review sites take a drumming in the blogging world, it is easy to forget that the concept of paid reviews are nothing new as is its sibling, review extortion, where the writer threatens to pen negative reviews of a service unless they are paid a certain amount of money.

However, where pay-per-review services are primarily an ethical issue for most bloggers, review extortion also raises serious legal problems, as the Lewis case points out, and is something that bloggers need to be aware of and avoid. read more

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