Internet Etiquette and Free (Again)

What Does Free Have to Do With Internet Etiquette?

During my daily read of the LA Times I came across this article that discusses how what you say on the internet can be used against you. Yes, you can get sued for slander and all kinds of other things – free speech or not. Take a look at the article below.

Blogger beware: Postings can lead to lawsuits

A false sense of Internet security can mean legal quagmires for critics who are careless about facts.

By David G. Savage, Tribune Washington BureauAugust 23, 2010

Reporting from Washington —

The Internet has allowed tens of millions of Americans to be published writers. But it also has led to a surge in lawsuits from those who say they were hurt, defamed or threatened by what they read, according to groups that track media lawsuits.

“It was probably inevitable, but we have seen a steady growth in litigation over content on the Internet,” said Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center in New York.

Although bloggers may have a free-speech right to say what they want online, courts have found that they are not protected from being sued for their comments, even if they are posted anonymously.

Some postings have even led to criminal charges.

If you are like me, opinionated, please click here to read the full article.

During my Big Island vacation I recorded a video in which I address that very issue – good internet etiquette by the example of the “Should I work for free” discussion. I know by now you are all tired of this  discussion but perhaps  just listening to the part about what you should do and what you should never do when you are contributing in cyberspace is worth watching.

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  1. James says

    An interesting article, and as the writer points out ‘The devil is in the details’.
    As long as the blogger, writer, etc., is clearly expression their own opinions, beliefs or recounting their own personal experiences they are usually safe.
    Too providing factual data or empirical evidence in the internet posting provides that writer with greater leverage.

    The difference is:
    Person XYZ is a Coke head.
    I was surprised to see Person XYZ snorting a white substance off of a mirror at a party I was attending last night.
    1 is a declarative statement with no basis of fact.
    2 is the recounting of events someone witnessed first hand.
    Of course the thought process of why anyone would consider posting the event is another story.
    And can lead to other law suites.
    But again both parties actually have to be able to provide tangible proof.

    He is a… NOT SAFE
    I saw…, based on my experience I believe…, it’s my opinion that…, and the like are usually safe.

    What the LA times Author does not point out is that many of these issues have already been addressed by the U.S. supreme court back in 1994.
    Unfortunately I can’t seem to find the URL to that court ruling.
    In that case a Corporation sued a day trader for expressing a negative opinion about the company on an open forum.
    The supreme court ruled that neither the day trader/poster, the web site owner, the web hosting company, the domain registrant, nor the internet service provider could be held liable for what the poster of the comment had said.
    Additionally the day trader/poster had clearly expressed his opinion and provided factual data in the post to substantiate his claims.

    Somewhat surprising is that a great many attorneys are not well versed on law as it pertains to the internet.
    This based on first hand experience(s).

    James Sullivan