Patterico's Pontifications

1/27/2005

Blogging in Danger?

Filed under: Blogging Matters — Patterico @ 6:45 am

Sobering words from Brooks Jackson:

Bloggers are ill prepared to deal with the tests they will be facing soon, mainly how to deal with lawsuits. I doubt that pro-bono legal representation will go very far in keeping a blogger going in the face of a big libel suit from a determined corporate opponent, or from an aggressive prosecutor. I suspect blogging is (legally speaking) right now about where Napster was, before the record industry went after it.

I hope he is wrong about this.

P.S. I originally mistakenly attributed the opinion to Jay Rosen. The comment is indeed posted at Jay’s site, but was actually made by Brooks Jackson, who is one of many people whom Jay asked to name “one thing you changed your mind about.” Unfortunately, when I quickly scanned Jay’s post this morning, the Brooks Jackson quote caught my eye, but I entirely missed the context.

9 Responses to “Blogging in Danger?”

  1. Actually, that wasn’t me. It was Brooks Jackson (Director, factcheck.org; former investigative reporter for the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal and CNN.)

    Jay Rosen (93f62a)

  2. Napster was new technology to do something that was illegal all along. While there may be lawsuits coming to the blogoshere, there effect will probably be to just set boundaries. There is nothing inherently illegal about expressing your opinions. Lawsuits may also keep deep-pockets individuals on the sidelines.

    Mike (d3f5fd)

  3. There’s a flip side to that equation. Bloggers who don’t have any assets are no more vulnerable than .mp3 bloggers who post music on off-campus ISPs. Civil suits are poor weapons against people who have no money.

    So while the poor are no longer free to sleep under bridges, they can still express themselves with impunity. (Now their ISP, on the other hand…)

    Mark Gisleson (8a138a)

  4. California bloggers like you, Patterico, are not entirely defenseless. There is a motion to strike causes of action having a chilling effect on public discussion of public issues. CCP 425.16 and 425.17. There is also a cause of action for interference with the exercise of civil rights, under Civil Code 52.1(b). I think New York Times v. Sullivan applies to everybody. In other words, unless they have a good case, a determined corporate opponent, or an aggressive prosecutor, faces a substantial downside and, as your other commenters point out, the potential upside may not be all that inviting, even if the case is good.

    raphil (85f839)

  5. John Edwards may be looking for work.

    Rod Stanton (f1688c)

  6. I’m afraid he’s probably right about this. That is why I am very careful on my blog about posting only things I can back up and only rarely criticize individuals.

    Orac (54ee87)

  7. “There’s a flip side to that equation. Bloggers who don’t have any assets are no more vulnerable than .mp3 bloggers who post music on off-campus ISPs. Civil suits are poor weapons against people who have no money.”

    But if you fail to live up to an injunction — retraction, apology, etc.. — you go to jail.

    actus (e8ffe9)

  8. The coming legal superstorm against bloggers
    Patterico can hope all he wants, but the sobering words he quotes will likely be proven correct in the coming years as blogging influence grows. The amount of litigation aimed at blogging will be in direct proportion to its overall…

    Calblog (2fb2f0)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.1876 secs.