Sunday, 21 December 2008
Opinions are like a**holes - we all have one...
Both Iain Dale and AMW have recently run stories regarding Bridget Prentice's proposed changes to the libel laws and in particular the impact this may have on the blogosphere, I orginally posted the following as a comment, but thought it might be useful to air it here. I have been involved in advising website owners on DMCA legislation, and providing investigation services over the last 5 years, so I am pretty sure that this is how it would play out:
Well here's my tuppence worth on the proposed changes to the law, as it stands Bloggers are not exempt from the libel laws see here.
And I guess that's just a result of our civil law, any individual who has the resources can raise an action against another, which must be defended - as to the rights and wrongs of buying law and at what cost, that's another debate.
However comments are in the first instance the responsibility of the individual making them, not the blog owner, and as such a valid defence if the commentator can be identified. Whether the commentator can be identified or not the blog owner or his ISP will be served with a removal order by a complainant, and if not compliant with that, may only then subsequently be sued in lieu of the commentator (Godfrey vs Demon).
As such the only decision a blog owner has to make is whether they want to use moderation or not - this does not make one iota of difference: if a valid email address (or tracked IP address) is associated with a comment then the commentator will be found and sued, and the blog owner served with a removal notice however if anonymous posts are accepted the only action available to a complainant is to serve the blog owner with a removal notice - and only then if it is ignored will the complainant be in a position to sue the blog owner.
So in summary, lawyers get more work serving removal orders, and every blog has only anonymous posts which would be removed if objected to - problem solved Bridget...