Martin H. Samson, a partner in the New York law firm of Davidoff Malito & Hutcher LLP, is a top authority on Internet Law. He authored the Internet Library site comprising extensive analysis of over 430 court decisions shaping the law of the Web. Samson also publishes the newsletter Internet Law Update. After reading my Dec. 21 post, 'Blogs move beyond original concept, some carry liability for authors,' Samson generously shared additional information about the subject of liability. In an email, he wrote:
I have analyzed a number of lawsuits brought against bloggers in my Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions. You can find these cases in the Blog section of the Internet Library at http://www.internetlibrary.com/topics/blogs.cfm.
I have also analyzed online defamation lawsuits brought against bloggers and others as a result of online posts in the Online Defamation section of the Internet Library found at http://www.internetlibrary.com/topics/online_defamation.cfm.
As you will see from reading these cases, one of the important factors in determining the potential scope of liability is whether the blogger authored the post in question, or has merely provided a forum at which a third party can share his/her views with the public. The Communications Decency Act affords immunity to website operators, such as bloggers, that are not afforded to those who publish offline.
As both professional journalists and laymen turn to the popular blog format to express opinions, we should be mindful there's legal turf to maneuver. Samson's site is an excellent resource for anyone interested in publishing on the Web.
(posted by Kay B. Day, Feb. 5, 2008)