Sunday, 21 November 2010

Bloggers / tweeters - and libel / defamation

For anyone who writes a blog or posts to message boards or forums, or who tweets on Twitter etc - the Libel Reform Campaign have just published a new guide "So you’ve had a threatening letter. What can you do?" - a guide for bloggers (English law only, but of interest given that libel lawsuits tend to be brought in England even against non-Brits…).

I mentioned "or post to message boards" etc because the guide may be of use not just to bloggers but also to forum posters and Twitter users who get threatened with defamation actions.

However, the guide only deals with the situation where someone has complained or threatened legal action over a blog post you made or something else that you wrote yourself.

The guide doesn't deal fully with -

  • what if you just run a blog or message board, and the complaint is about someone else's post - not one you personally posted (then, issues about editorial control etc may come into it) - it happened to Mr Hilton and his site.
  • what if someone posts a defamatory comment on your blog - defamatory about you (self-help: delete it, or don't publish it!), or about someone else?
  • should you moderate posts on a team blog, or moderate comments on your blog, if so how? (probably not, in order to reduce the risk of being done for manually letting a libellous comment or post through - though I admit I myself do moderate for spam).

For more info you might want to see this post on defamation and other legal risks for bloggers (including on posting links to possibly defamatory material someone else wrote) - but be warned that while that post was up to date when it was written, some of it may have been superseded by later events.

If you want to defend your libel case (and bearing in mind that you can't get legal aid), see a note Legal help: where to go and how to pay - meant for MPs so it's worded quite simply! ;D

Like the guide, this post isn't legal advice etc either, of course.

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