Anorak News | Bloggers And Media Law

Bloggers And Media Law

by | 8th, October 2008

THE dangers, laws and pratfalls of blogging. Robert Cox is the founder and president of the Media Bloggers Association. This in the NY Daily News:

When Peter Robbins, a retired homicide detective from Barnstable, Mass., was asked to blog for the site, it never occurred to him that he might face a libel suit. Lucas Lechuga thought of his blog about the Miami real estate market as a fun diversion from selling condos until he was slapped with a $25 million lawsuit by a local developer. Alana Taylor, a student at NYU, found herself in hot water after she “live blogged” about her journalism class for the PBS MediaShift Web site.

Anorak knows about the pitfalls of writing on the web. See lawyers letter aplenty:

Never in the history of the media have so many had access to so many more, for so low a cost, while knowing so little about their obligations under the law and the risks associated with publishing.


This, combined with the open nature of the Internet, has led many bloggers to believe that the blogosphere exists on some ethereal plane where the laws of gravity cease to exist. This delusional notion of legal invincibility, common among bloggers, is dangerous.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Blogging, or “citizen media,” has tremendous potential to be a transformative good for our society. That potential is at risk, however, as these independent online publishers confront an increasingly hostile legal landscape with little understanding of the law as it applies to publishers (or broadcasters if they are podcasting) and meager financial resources with which to defend their publications in court.

Given their nature, blogs are particularly susceptible to litigation because they are inherently risky as publishing operations. There is typically very little operational control, the content is often deliberately designed to be provocative and it is immediately widely distributed and searchable.


Meanwhile, blogs have all the same legal exposures as traditional publishers: Bloggers have faced subpoenas seeking to unmask anonymous postings and demands from law enforcement authorities to provide names of sources and to turn over notes.

Wanna see the letters? Don’t be scared:

There are effective defenses, and bloggers often win in court. The Media Law Resource Center reports that more than 33% of the cases they monitor are withdrawn, and bloggers win 90% of cases that go to trial.

Taking a blogger to court should be a last resort. Most bloggers are willing to correct mistakes when they are pointed out, and the vast majority of disputes are resolved without legal threats. Something potential litigants would do well to consider before launching on all-out legal attack against a blogger.

But stand up for what you believe in:

In order for our newly emerged citizen media to flourish, it is essential that bloggers arm themselves with a basic grounding in media law, follow it and have access to the same sorts of legal and financial resources typically available to plaintiffs when challenged.

Anorak has the best mods team in the business…

Posted: 8th, October 2008 | In: Reviews Comments (4) | TrackBack | Permalink