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Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:01 PM   #1
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Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

I'll start off by saying that I am not hinting that anyone here has done anything wrong.

There seems to be a growing trend of lawsuits against people who post libelous information on the internet. I just read an article about it this morning in one of my law journals. One of the first cases recently went to trial in Georgia. In that case a lawyer brought a lawsuit against a former client who said his former lawyer took bribes on behalf of drug dealers, apparently to pass along to judges. The former client specifically accused his former lawyer of taking $3000 from him. His ex-lawyer asked that the statement be removed from the website forum where it was posted but the ex-client wouldn't remove the post. The jury awarded the lawyer $50,000.

The biggest verdict so far was obtained by default. A person from Louisiana posted defamatory messages about another person on a an internet forum. The defamed person sued in their home state of Florida and got a default judgment for $11 million. Not too meaningful becasue the person sued was apparently broke and didn't defend.

For those of us who enjoy the online life, you may want to check out the website, http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/ which has information on liability issues and check out their defamation guide. http://www.eff.org/bloggers/lg/faq-defamation.php




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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:17 PM   #2
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Martha, wasn't their a precedent-setting case about 10 years ago (Prodigy) that basically made the distinction between a moderated forum and a "raw" information conduit? I thought in the case of a moderated forum, the forum operators actually took on quite a load of liability.
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:17 PM   #3
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Dumb question (since it involves persuading a jury) but couldn't a case be made that the poster couldn't control his own content after he put it on someone else's server? "It's not my fault, the evil webmaster did it!"
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:24 PM   #4
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Damn. I guess this means I have to stop referring to Greg as a .... uh, "noodge" is still OK, right?

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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:31 PM   #5
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Damn. I guess this means I have to stop referring to Greg as a .... uh, "noodge" is still OK, right?
[libel] Truth is an absolute defense to claims of libel. So you are ok. [/libel]

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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:43 PM   #6
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Does this mean we can sue internet trolls...
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 12:57 PM   #7
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
Martha, wasn't their a precedent-setting case about 10 years ago (Prodigy) that basically made the distinction between a moderated forum and a "raw" information conduit? I thought in the case of a moderated forum, the forum operators actually took on quite a load of liability.
I vaguely remember the lawsuit.

Maybe as a result, the communications decency act was passed about 10 years ago. This act primarily concerns obscenity but has this provision too:

"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

Arguably this protects the ISP, and people like Dory, from claims resulting if someone here libeled someone else.
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:05 PM   #8
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martha
..........Arguably this protects the ISP, and people like Dory, from claims resulting if someone here libeled someone else.
But if a Moderator or web admin can change the text of a post, without an automatic and non-defeatable marking of said changed or added text, how can anyone prove that the libelous statement is indeed the work of the poster?
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:12 PM   #9
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

I'm not too prone to libel or slander anyone, but I worry a bit when I offer medical information in a general sense, as do Martha and a number of others in their chosen fields. No matter how hard I might try to keep it general and accurate, I guess the desire to be helpful can potentially get you in to trouble.

Maybe maybe I should include ever-more obnoxious disclaimers, though I don't know if that really provides much protection.
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:15 PM   #10
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Telly
But if a Moderator or web admin can change the text of a post, without an automatic and non-defeatable marking of said changed or added text, how can anyone prove that the libelous statement is indeed the work of the poster?
Good defense lawyer argument.

I don't know anything about forum software, and possible ways to "get around" how a forum works, but if there is a moderator edit on this board the edit shows at the bottom of the post.
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:16 PM   #11
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Here is an article I read.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/educati...ol-blogs_x.htm


"A cheerleader at a Fort Worth-area school was kicked off the squad for derogatory comments someone posted on her blog about other cheerleaders"
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:21 PM   #12
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
I'm not too prone to libel or slander anyone, but I worry a bit when I offer medical information in a general sense, as do Martha and a number of others in their chosen fields. No matter how hard I might try to keep it general and accurate, I guess the desire to be helpful can potentially get you in to trouble.

Maybe maybe I should include an ever-more obnoxious disclaimers, though I don't know if that really provides much protection.
I have my obnoxious disclaimer at the bottom of all my posts. Disclaimers are helpful to counter arguments of reliance. I trust I do not have to make my disclaimer even more obnoxious. Or change my name to "don't rely on me Martha." On occasion I throw in a little extra CYA, as I note you do as well.


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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:24 PM   #13
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

If someone says that mutual fund XYZ is a good fund are they libel if someone else reads it and loses money ?

If someone says that you can spend X amount in retirement, and then someone else reads it, spends that amount and then goes broke is the original poster liable ?

Where does this libel thing stop ?

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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:38 PM   #14
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster

Where does this libel thing stop ?

From the website I linked to above:

The elements that must be proved to establish defamation are:

a publication to one other than the person defamed;
a false statement of fact;
that is understood as

a. being of and concerning the plaintiff; and
b. tending to harm the reputation of plaintiff.

If the plaintiff is a public figure, he or she must also prove actual malice


What you are refering to doesn't have anything to do with defamation, but some kind of malpractice claim. Way too much a stretch.
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:42 PM   #15
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

liable and libel aren't synonyms, MB.

Liibel means damaging a person's reputation by making false statements (or falsified photos, etc) about them.

Liability means being legally obligated. A random poster on a board is not liable for statements made about investments or medical treatments (but it's a gray area for professionals, I guess).
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 01:55 PM   #16
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by astromeria


Liability means being legally obligated. A random poster on a board is not liable for statements made about investments or medical treatments (but it's a gray area for professionals, I guess).
And professionals shouldn't either. No one should be relying on information obtained on an internet forum to make important life decisions. Each person has their own unique circumstances. Information obtained from "professionals" who are participants in this forum should be considered general information and if professional advice is needed to make a particular decision, go to a professional where you can share all your facts and circumstances.
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 02:01 PM   #17
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterBlaster
If someone says that mutual fund XYZ is a good fund are they libel if someone else reads it and loses money ?

If someone says that you can spend X amount in retirement, and then someone else reads it, spends that amount and then goes broke is the original poster liable ?

Where does this libel thing stop ?
Using disclaimers like Martha and I do is a good start..........
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 03:11 PM   #18
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

My advice is to always tell the truth (opinions are still legal). If you always tell the truth, not only do you not need to remember everything you say,
but you don't need to worry if someone repeats it.

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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 04:56 PM   #19
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr._johngalt
My advice is to always tell the truth (opinions are still legal). If you always tell the truth, not only do you not need to remember everything you say,
but you don't need to worry if someone repeats it.
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Ok............you stole that from Samuel Clemens:

"The man who tells the truth has a LOT LESS to remember"..........
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.
Old 10-30-2006, 06:15 PM   #20
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Re: Libel and what you post on Forums and Blogs.

The fact that people BELIEVE what they read on the internet astounds me. Bottom line the internet is fantasy sports, stock quotes weather reports and porno.

Goofy forums that are owned by someone who then censors what is said.

Yea a real hoot this internet.
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