September 18, 2006

How Free is Freedom of speech? blogs and legalities.

From inane
Sep 18

Saturday I attended Geekzone 06, which was a great event.

One of the speakers was Juha who spoke at some legnth about Blogs and the Law.

so What protection do you really have? the answer to that, is Not much - especially in this country, and it varies from country to country, but most places as a blogger you have very little protection from the law.

should you say something that upsets someone / something, or is considered slander, ever though there is the concept of freedom of speech, when it comes down to it, freedom of speech can be very expensive.

so what can you do to protect yourself?

some of the points raised at GZ06 were:

- State on your blog that all comments are the responsibility and copyright of the person posting them.
- Never Moderate your comments-

- this does not include spam; which is a technical issue.

-Why?because by moderating comments you are taking ownership to some degree of the comments and more importantly you are taking responsibility for the content.

that may seem strange, - perhaps you might think to remove all posts / comments that could be considered offensive or slander or lawsuit causing.
the problem is people are much like wild animals,.
there is an old saying "Don't bother it, and it wont bother you" - this is very true.


the biggest problem is you can never be certain what will bother "it" whether "it" is a wild boar, multinational corporation, politician or public personality.

the next problem comes, as Juha said: they will come at you with a team of $400 to $500 per hour lawyers - that then means to have a fighting chance you will need to get your own team of $400 to $500 per hour lawyers.

How many of you could afford that for an extended period?

Its a scary thought really - especially because you could still loose and be ordered to pay all the court costs for both sides.

There are various cases establishing various precedents around the world with bloggers being taken to court for all manner of things, and there are many bloggers being taken to court for less glamorous things, not precedent setting but still its happening,

such as Stephen Judd of VITAL.ORG.NZ being served papers for writing about dubious product claims- (More information on Juha's blog here

others which are much higher profile cases such as Josh Wolf - who is currently battling in the American High Court, after he posted video and interviews of an Anarchist rally where a police car was torched.

however this has gone was past the point of being funny, the subpoena (that josh wolf refused to turn over), was delivered by a special federal officer of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is fairly heavy handed.

You can view Josh Wolf's Video here .

those are just a couple of cases, and there are plenty more going on, some that you will here about, and some that you wont.

But the best thing you can do is to get some legal advice, make sure you go into everything with your eyes open.

so really, freedom of speech could send you to bankruptcy. I truly believe that new legislations will need to come about that protect Web 2, and all the wonderful things about the growing blogosphere, otherwise it will continue to be crippled and attacked by large corporations who either think they deserve a bigger cut -or- think they can silence the truth the same way they have always done-....

Long live syndication. its a beautiful thing, even if I get a subpoena 20 minutes after this going live, they could still not get rid of all traces of this post, as within 15 minutes its syndicated around the world!!!

(i dont think i'll be subpoenaed for this one though... but who knows.)


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