As a blogger I’m always cautious of what I write and how I write it. After all, what I say here can be taken against me if I was to abuse, harass or even speak against somebody in a defamatory way. The fact remains that bloggers worldwide are being taken to court by corporations and single entities because of what they wrote about, which is called libel in legal terms.
One blogger I highly respect is Alex and he made me aware of a current lawsuit involving ePerks that seems to have caused an uproar in the blogosphere in the last couple of months. After reading Alex’s post I went off in search of information pertaining rights for bloggers and what they can and cannot do but to be honest, it is a legal jungle out there and unless we are trained in Internet law or know a little more about the first amendment of the USA than most, it is very hard to see exactly what we can and cannot “say” on a blog.
While Freedom of speech certainly allows us to speak up for ourselves, it isn’t that black and white at all.
For instance, we cannot post information that would intentionally cause harassment, hurt or defamation to another person or entity on the net as far as I was able to make out. While this is rather logical on first thought, it proves a lot harder to see where the actual boundaries lie on second.
Where one person could see themselves hurt by defamation, the courts might just put it all down to mambo jumbo if it was to be taken to a lawsuit. Many lawsuits aren’t even cause for one either and they add an enormous amount to the tax payers bill just because somebody thinks they can cash in quickly.
The sad state is that more and more lawsuits are being filed online against bloggers and my question is, how far will this go? How can we as bloggers make sure that we stay within the right side of the law and still bring our message across?
To me the answer is simple:
Don’t post anything that could be taken against you in a court of law. If you call another blogger and asshole or an idiot this could potentially lead to problems and while we all know of one blogger (Vic) who used to do this quite well, we also know that he got away with it. From where I stand, this could have just as easily ended up in court. Having said this, it is my own opinion and I might be wrong. Even though I know Vic has a heart of gold it doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says, or how he says it for that matter.
As bloggers we do have a responsibility to act human and express our views and ideas in a way that isn’t negatively affecting others and their name within the industry. Just like we act when we have a discussion offline really. After all, we don’t go shouting asshole or idiot to everybody that disagrees with us (or do we)?
I believe that we will see more and more of these type of lawsuits if the company that sued Vlad where to succeed. (As seen in Alex’s post above). This certainly makes me cautious about what I write and I reckon we should all be somewhat civilized in the way we dish out opinions.
What do you think? Are you worried about lawsuits as a blogger, or do you feel this all to be blown up affairs for the sake of media attention?