Bloggers Gain Libel Protection

Posted by Dan on Jul 1, 2003 @ 9:17 AM

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that Web loggers, web site operators and e-mail list editors can't be held responsible for libel for information they republish, extending crucial First Amendment protections to do-it-yourself online publishers.

Online free speech advocates praised the decision as a victory. The ruling effectively differentiates conventional news media, which can be sued relatively easily for libel, from certain forms of online communication such as moderated e-mail lists. One implication is that DIY publishers like bloggers cannot be sued as easily.

I think it's good that bloggers can be free to quote sources without having to worry about repercussions if the source is wrong, but this means you really have to research blogs you read to ensure that you feel that the information the blogger reports is trustworthy.

This really isn't any different than it has been w/the web, but I think many people new to the culture have a tendency to trust the information they read on the web as being accurate. I think we become somewhat accustomed to trusting things we see in print as being automatically accurate. However, you can't make that assumption with the web. You really need to research what you read and eventually you'll start to form opinions on what sources you can trust and which ones you can't.

I also find it ironic that if the information in this article is inaccurate, or simply wrong, than I could be libel for quoting it. :)

Categories: Media/Politics


  • I am interested in this because I have been threatened with legal action for information that I posted on my blog about family members. I have been very carefull to hide their identity. Do I need to worry?
  • I'm no lawyer--I don't even play one on TV :)--but from reading through your blog, I can't see anything on your site that would be considered slander.

    If you were purposely making up fictitious information and posting it as truthful, then you might run into problems--especially if it somehow hurt that person financially.

    However, from the information on your site now, you seem to be just posting your side of the story, which you should be completely protected to do.

    It seems pretty much everything you've said can either be looked up to be fact or is your opinion--both of which you're free to express.


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