Online legal and ethical issues
What is libel?
Online legal and ethical issues
Libel is a defamatory statement (harms the
reputation of the other person) that has been
published to at least one other person. The statement
alleged to be defamatory must also be a false
statement of fact.
Burden of proof is on the plaintiff
Can I be sued for something I put on the Internet?
Can I Be Sued for Something I Put on the Internet?
Yes. The laws regarding defamation apply to the
Internet as they do to more traditional media.
However, federal law protects Internet service
providers (ISPs) and other interactive computer
services from many lawsuits.
The Communications Decency Act section 230, which was part
of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, immunizes computer
Several courts have extended the protection of ISPs
under section 30 of the CDA to media organizations.
Unless the website is the author of the posting, the
site is not liable for the content.
How journalistic websites police postings
Registration with a valid e-mail address
User policing – flagging offensive posts
Ban certain words
We encourage you to share your thoughts about our stories.
However, comments that are obscene, overly personal, racist or
otherwise inappropriate will be removed. Because the messages
are posted instantly and anonymously, Courant.com cannot vouch
for their accuracy or authenticity. Report abusive posts by clicking
the link found at the upper right of each item. -- Courant.com
Crossing the line
Your post will be removed if it falls under one of
Quote of deleted post
Copyright provides the owner the right to control
how a creative work is used. A copyright is comprised
of a number of exclusive rights, including the right to
make copies, authorize others to make copies, make
derivative works, sell and market the work and
perform the work.
Copyright & the Internet
Copyright protects web pages, e-mails and postings
to discussion groups. A website’s HTML is
You should always assume that anything you
encounter on the Internet is copyrighted– images,
cartoons, video, etc.
An exception to copyright is a provision called fair use.
Copyright law recognizes the right of educators, journalists
and others to use some portion of copyrighted works for the
purposes of education, scholarship, research, criticism and
comment. There are four “tests” in the fair use provision that
you can use to help assess whether you can use a copyrighted
work without permission.
The purpose and character of the use
The nature of copyrighted work
The amount and substantiality of the portion used
The effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the
Images and Creative Commons
U.S. copyright law does apply to ALL IMAGES you see on the
Web, on any Web page. So it is absolutely NOT okay to copy an
image (photo or otherwise) from somewhere online and use it.
The image does NOT need to have a copyright symbol or a
copyright notice to enjoy this protection. All published works are
automatically protected by this law — and that includes ALL
Some people have chosen to allow limited use of their Web-
published work — that is, they have given you permission in
advance. They do this by posting a Creative Commons license; on
Flickr, for example, you’ll see tags on the right side of an
individual photo page.
Guidelines from the Online Journalism Review:
The old rule: You can't cover something in which you
are personally involved.
The new rule: Tell your readers how you are involved
and how that's shaped your reporting.
The old rule: You must present all sides of a story,
being fair to each.
The new rule: Report the truth and debunk the lies.
The old rule: There must be a wall between
advertising and editorial.
The new rule: Sell ads into ad space and report news
in editorial space. And make sure to show the reader
Use of music
You can’t use music unless it is expressly offered for
public domain use.
You must get express permission from the copyright