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Log In, Blog To, Log Out - And Don't Get Sued!


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Slides for talk for Own-It on legal risks for bloggers and Web 2.0 sites, and how to protect yourself. On 23 Jan 2008 by Robert Lands, Head of IP & Media, Finers Stephen Innocent. Full write up at

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Log In, Blog To, Log Out - And Don't Get Sued!

  1. Log in, Blog to, Log out (And Don’t Get Sued) Robert Lands Head of IP Media Finers Stephens Innocent LLP 23 rd January 2008
  2. Legal Blogging 101 <ul><li>Do I have a legal right to say what I like? </li></ul><ul><li>Can I get fired if I blog about my job? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I have a right to remain anonymous? </li></ul><ul><li>Can I get sued? </li></ul>(cc) Rudis Fotos
  3. Defamation - Law <ul><li>What is libel? </li></ul><ul><li>A “defamatory imputation” </li></ul><ul><li>To lower the estimation of a person in the eyes of right thinking members of society </li></ul><ul><li>What is it not? </li></ul><ul><li>Vulgar abuse, attacks on groups </li></ul><ul><li>The problem with blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Judged by the same standards as professionals. Can be liable as a journalist and publisher. </li></ul>
  4. Defamation - Defences <ul><li>Justification </li></ul><ul><li>BUT problem of the burden of proof </li></ul><ul><li>Qualified Privilege </li></ul><ul><li>Responsible journalism (Dow Jones v Jameel) </li></ul><ul><li>Defences for service providers </li></ul>(cc) Dean Forbes
  5. Defamation - FAQs <ul><li>My server is in Mongolia, which country’s laws apply? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I have to comply with all laws all over the world? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it OK if I make clear I’m quoting someone else? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you responsible if someone takes your comments out of context? </li></ul><ul><li>I’m flat broke so can’t pay damages- will anyone bother to sue me? </li></ul>
  6. McLibel <ul><li>Helen Steel and Dave Morris </li></ul><ul><li>Did not write “What’s Wrong With McDonalds” </li></ul><ul><li>Longest Running Trial in English Legal history </li></ul><ul><li>PR misfire for McDonalds </li></ul>
  7. Running a Web 2.0 Site <ul><li>Are you responsible for clearing your contributors content? </li></ul><ul><li>Defamation Act section 1 – “Innocent Dissemination” </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 - “Mere Hosting” </li></ul><ul><li>Notice and Take Down Policies </li></ul>
  8. <ul><li>Forum for young mothers </li></ul><ul><li>100,000 subscribers. 15,000 posts per day = 5.5m per year, </li></ul><ul><li>Gina Ford - Controversial parenting guru </li></ul><ul><li>Mumsnet put on notice that were hosting allegedly defamatory material </li></ul><ul><li>Letters continued over one year </li></ul><ul><li>Disagreement about whether posts capable of bearing defamatory meaning </li></ul><ul><li>Gina Ford wrote to ISP </li></ul><ul><li>Mumsnet took down entire threads containing posts </li></ul><ul><li>Gina Ford continued to seek damages and apology; issued proceedings </li></ul>
  9. Mumsnet’s Problems <ul><li>Could not pre-vet; logistical problems with sheer volume of posts. </li></ul><ul><li>Abided by abuse policy – postings not believed to be defamatory. </li></ul><ul><li>Should the law change? Websites are not papers </li></ul>(cc) Jordan Brock
  10. Copyright Issues <ul><li>Copying </li></ul><ul><li>Derivative works / Parody </li></ul><ul><li>Authorising </li></ul><ul><li>Making Available </li></ul><ul><li>Linking </li></ul>©
  11. Trade Marks & Domains <ul><li>Trade Mark Use </li></ul><ul><li>Dilution </li></ul><ul><li>US: Trademark Dilution Revision Act 2006 - Protection for famous marks. “Likely dilution” standard (instead of actual dilution). </li></ul><ul><li>Domain Name Disputes </li></ul>
  12. Confidential Information <ul><li>Confidential information- eg Trade Secrets </li></ul><ul><li>Information about your employer </li></ul><ul><li>Does your employer own © in your blog? </li></ul>
  13. Criminal Speech <ul><li>Contempt of Court </li></ul><ul><li>Terrorism Act 2006   </li></ul><ul><li>Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Blasphemy </li></ul>