Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Laws governing bloggers?

Every so often there's a debate about which laws cover bloggers, indeed whether there are any laws governing what we say.

I've always believed that we're governed by the laws of libel, decency and honesty which apply to any other published material. The fact that we're the new phenomenon of blogging, are amateurs and publish only on the web is immaterial.

The debate also often touches on anonymity, on bloggers using a nom de plume.

To me that's really neither here nor there, it's a well-established practice in writing. There's even widespread complete anonymity too, such as with newspaper editorial writers.

In any case the reality is that not writing under our own names doesn't mean no-one knows who we are.

The reason I'm posting about all this is an interesting and unprecedented court ruling in the US.

Model Liskula Cohen wants to sue an anonymous blogger for defamation after derogatory posts were published. She sued Google to force them to reveal the name of the blogger, who used Google's Blogger platform (as I do).

On Monday, Judge Joan Madden ruled that Cohen was entitled to sue the blogger for defamation and to enable her to do this ordered Google to provide the blogger's name.

Whether Google will appeal the decision hasn't been announced, nor has how or when the bloggers name will be revealed. I guess it could be in open court or privately to Ms Cohen and her lawyers.

It does confirm the obvious though, we're subject to the law as much as anyone else.


You can read the story here.

4 comments:

Dave said...

The thing I get out of all of this, is that blogging is rapidly becoming a powerful medium.

If Liskula Cohen has gone to the trouble of taking legal action against a blogger then her actions provide evidence that people are reading blogs and concerned when negative publicity (true or false) occurs.

Some time back would any "celebrity" really care what was said in an anonomous blog??

Keefieboy said...

I think bloggers should be aware of what constitutes libel in the country that they are publishing from (the definition is not the same in all countries). I do not think it reasonable or fair for bloggers to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, taking potshots at anyone they don't like. I haven't looked at the Cohen case, but I think the principle is to do with personal accountability. It is possible for bloggers to reach a massive audience, and if a particular blogger is blatantly defaming someone, then they have to be accountable.

Technology said...

That's setting a scary precedent for all bloggers.

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