The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 July 2003

Libel by linkage?

Apparently some of that free-speech stuff in the First Amendment does apply to blogs.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that bloggers and listserv operators are not responsible for potentially-libelous material which they reproduce but do not originate, an extension of existing law which insulates ISPs from liability for material which passes through their gateways.

Pertinent to the situation is this statement by EFF legal eagle Cindy Cohn:

One-way news publications have editors and fact-checkers, and they're not just selling information — they're selling reliability. But on blogs or e-mail lists, people aren't necessarily selling anything, they're just engaging in speech. That freedom of speech wouldn't exist if you were held liable for every piece of information you cut, paste and forward.

I will resist the temptation to suggest that some of those "one-way" publications are doing a better job of selling reliability than others — and that some of us down here in blogland perform the fact-checking function as a matter of course.

Posted at 7:44 AM to Blogorrhea