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Is the Interconnectivity of Blogging a Legal Tightrope?

March 6, 2008 Leave a comment

Blogging is fun.  It seems innocuous enough…that is, until one day you find a seething comment about your competitor on your blog.  At first glance, you might read the contribution as a gift, because you didn’t have the guts to be so brutally honest.  Maybe the information revealed feels like a relief because you realize others share your thoughts.

Or maybe someone posted on your blog — material lifted from elsewhere ?  Eeeks.  What does that say about you?  Common sense dictates that these are not your words, so accountability lies with the person who posted.  According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, you are protected somewhat if you didn’t knowingly allow it.  But once you recognize the infringement, you are responsible for taking it down.

Okay, so if someone slams someone you know or reveals some dirt on your competitor on your blog, is that your fault?   Under the federal Communications Decency Act, you aren’t considered the publisher of the comment, therefore, technically you shouldn’t be liable as long as you don’t add to the defamatory remarks.  However, ethically you are responsible for your blog, so to let inflammatory material sit on your blog for any amount of time past discovery is a questionable decision.  Though, if you are into drama, then don’t bother reading comments and see where life takes you.

The whole idea is to keep your risk of liability to a minimum.  Concentrate on your writing.  You don’t have to live with this kind of conflict.  You can create it in your fiction.

What is your take on blogging ethics?  Do you review comments for defamatory or obscene remarks?

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