Thanks to Paul for pointing us ot this interesting article about blogger liabilities. I’d be interested in how folks here view this topic. Do I need “blog comment insurance”?
Wall Street Journal on Blogger lawsuits
Bloggers are increasingly getting sued or threatened with legal action for everything from defamation to invasion of privacy to copyright infringement. In 2007 — the most recent data available — 106 civil lawsuits against bloggers and others in social networks and online forums were tallied by the Citizen Media Law Project at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, up from just 12 in 2003. There have been about $17.4 million in trial awards against bloggers to date, according to the Media Law Resource Center in New York, a nonprofit clearinghouse that tracks free-speech cases.
Though I am in principle opposed to the judicial bureaucracy, I can understand why some bloggers would resort to filing defamation suits, or for other reasons. Some blogs specialize in bogus and scurrilous accusations 24/7, whether in regards to national, state or local politics.
Loudmouth X posts something insinuating some Y is criminal, a nazi (or communist, etc), deviant, prefers PCs to Apples, eats red meat, and so forth. The rumors start, are passed around some blog-circle–for months–and that may result in damage to a person’s professional reputation. Or there are accusations of specific crimes, or the sexual innuendo game (a fave of leftist blogs, really), or not being PC enough. Effective moderation can prevent that.
The copyright thing another matter. I note quite a bit of plagiarism, even when people do the bounce thing yet don’t think it’s that serious, unless someone rips off some potboiler, alters it a bit, and then sells it to Quentin Tarentino for a few hundred grand (sort of starving LA hipster speciality). These days, however, the studios and publishing houses have readers trained in detecting plagiarism. When some Bubba tries to pass off his fave Heinlein space opera as like a cutting-edge remake of Scooby Doo (in Orbit!) he could be headed for the Litigation Zone.