Yesterday, I posted about a nuisance lawsuit a friend of mine has been slapped with over a photograph on her blog.
If you’re not familiar with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they’ve published a handy legal guide for bloggers. Its well worth reading.
You can find it here:
Legal Guide for Bloggers
Whether you’re a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you’ve been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.
Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don’t want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that’s under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.
The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you’re doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn’t help – in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven’t yet decided how it applies to bloggers.
But here’s the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn’t use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That’s why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.
To be clear, this guide isn’t a substitute for, nor does it constitute, legal advice. Only an attorney who knows the details of your particular situation can provide the kind of advice you need if you’re being threatened with a lawsuit. The goal here is to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.
Please note that this guide applies to people living in the US. We don’t have the expertise or resources to speak to other countries’ legal traditions, but we’d like to work with those who do. If you know of a similar guide for your own jurisdiction or feel inspired to research and write one, please let us know. We can link to it here.
“Because it’s been 150 years, we’ve got this idea that we’ve got an entitlement to read books for free, at the expense of authors, publishers and council tax payers. This is not the Victorian age, when we wanted to allow the impoverished access to literature. We pay for compulsory schooling to do that.
Edwin Mellen Press is suing Dale Askey–a McMaster University librarian–and McMaster University for “$3.0 million dollars as damages for defamation arising from continuous publication on the World Wide web by the defendant Askey.” The alleged defamation occurred in a 2010 blog post Askey–an American citizen–wrote when he was a librarian at Kansas State University. The contents of the action (including the original blog post) are available here. Regardless of the outcome of the case, academic librarians should consider the implications of this lawsuit and its potential attack on academic freedom and the public expression of professional opinions on relevant subjects. Information about previous and potential Mellen lawsuits are below.
This is mostly a note to myself — an interesting comment on how to define hipsterism, and a potential paper topic. Does it really mean their subculture is hollow? (Of course not, but it’s a jumping off point.)
Hipsters are—by most defintions—dismissive. They sort through the detritus of pop culture, appropriate what they find appealing in its quirkiness, cultivating an aesthetic that considers all but allows surprisingly little. To be hipster is to hate.