Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Blogs, social networks: defamation v opinion, copyright, anonymity, your rights & risks - free event & drinks

If you write, run or host a blog or social network, or online message board or bulletin board, or plan to, you may be interested in a free event in January on your risks and liabilities to do with legal issues such as:
  • Are you responsible for clearing your contributor’s content?
  • Can you be responsible if other people take your comments out of context?
  • If you work for a company can your views affect them?
  • Can you remain anonymous?
  • What are you agreeing to when you join a blogging website and which countries' law do you have to adhere to?
  • What you need to be aware of when sourcing other peoples content?

The event is "Log in, Blog to, Log out", run by Own-It, from 6-9 pm including networking drinks on Wed 23 Jan 2008 in Clerkenwell, London. The speakers will be:

It's free to sign up for Own-It events if you're a registered member (and it's free to register - use a free disposable email address service like Spamgourmet or a Gmail alias if you prefer).

As you can tell from the questions listed above to be discussed, the talk should be relevant to those who host or run blogs or social networking sites too - not just bloggers or those who comment on blogs or post on internet forums or social network sites like Facebook, Twitter etc, in terms of the risks we face that we ought to be aware of.

I've signed up and do hope I'll be able to make it to this one - while there is an EFF legal guide for bloggers it's US-centric, and so is the legal guide to podcasting, as well as various developments in the USA on censorship / libel and defamation.

The EFF are very strong on promoting bloggers' rights in the US: the rights of journalists; bloggers' rights to free speech including political speech, without the abuse of copyright or libel laws to censor us; the right to stay anonymous; and the right to not be liable for hosting speech in the same way other web hosts are. I'm a big fan of the EFF, see my sidebar. The Open Rights Group are a similar group in the UK focusing on digital rights and civil liberties and also deserve support (I'm a member, as you won't be surprised to hear after my Copyfighters posts from May 2005, Aug 2005 and Mar 2006 plus Creative Commons song, if you were with me from that far back!).

The US is of course still very relevant to us here because content we create or upload could be hosted on servers located in the USA, or owned by a US company. For instance, this blog was directly affected when the BBC issued a take-down notice under the US DMCA against the YouTube screencasts in my BBC iPlayer review (though they later apologised).

But it's about time there was a legal guide for bloggers in the UK and Europe - I still have no idea about the risks of hyperlinking to other sites! Hopefully this will be an informative talk. And maybe someone - the ORG? - will produce a legal guide for bloggers here in the not too distant future?

In fact I may well draw up a list of the many questions I have on the subject and see if I can send it to the speakers / Own-It in advance in the hope that they'll address them.

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