Danielle's Blog Spot

Bloggers Under Fire

Posted on: June 28, 2009

I will admit, I’m not a big blogger.  I have this blog because of my class and I am (at least I hope I am) doing what is requested of me by my professor as a blogger.  I will blog on my personal MySpace account just about what’s going on with me and my life and things that are currently aggervating me.  It’s more like an online venting place for me.  However, the more I have to use the Internet for class and search blogs, the more I realize, a person can’t just say whatever they want to in a blog and have it be protected by the laws of free speech.  What do I mean?

Blogger Perez Hilton has been making headlines as a bad blogger.  Back in 2006, X17 sued Perez Hilton for $7.6 million for copyright infringment.  X17 accused Hilton of using 51 of their photos without permission, payment, or credit.  Hilton has his own website PerezHilton.com which is described as a “Celebrity gossip, juicy celebrity rumors, and Hollywood gossip blog.”  In the past few weeks Perez Hilton was assaulted by the band Black Eyed Peas manager after a confrontation occured where musician Will.i.am. asked Hilton not to write about his band on the celebrity blog website.  Perez Hilton has also caused a loud uproar with the recent Michael Jackson tragedy.  As news broke of Michael Jackson’s hear attack, Perez went on his blog and accused Jackson of faking a heart attack to get out of his 50 date London tour.  Now that the world knows the truth, people are calling for a Perez Hilton boycot.  Stuff like this poses the question, what kind of rights do bloggers really have?

According to the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) they have created the Legal Guide for Bloggers http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal

The EFF is also working to help bloggers been seen as journalists (and journalist can be bloggers), working towards helping get bloggers free speach (in other words people can’t sue a blogger with threats of copyright, liable, or other such claims), working to give bloggers free political speech, bloggers have the right to stay anonymous, and bloggers have freedom from liability for hosting speech the same way other web hosts do.

Go to http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers for more info

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2 Responses to "Bloggers Under Fire"

The Electronic Frontier Foundation you mentioned in your post notes that “The freedom of the press applies to every sort of publication that affords a vehicle of information and opinion, whether online or offline”.

That being said, is there any legitimacy over recent claims of defamation and libel on bloggers? Can the opinions and activities we blog about show up in court and serve against us? How do we strike a balance of what is appropriate blog content if the law on free speech does not specifically address the issues facing today’s bloggers?

Consider this excerpt from bloggingtips.com:
That’s exactly what happened to Chez Pazienza who was fired from his job as a producer at CNN because he wrote a personal blog. While his blog never mentioned anything about CNN or his job, he did write openly about his opinions and thoughts. Many of those opinions could be considered controversial, but again, he never mentioned anything about his job or his employer, CNN, on his blog (Deus Ex Malcontent).

To protect ourselves as bloggers, one may want to consider using an alias. In this way, it would be very hard for an unknown site visitor to target us for voicing our opinions on a subject matter. And as a general rule of thumb, I suggest we revise our online presence across all emerging media vehicles as a reflection on how we want ourselves to be perceived. Clearly, our reputation depends on it.

I do not frequently blog either but there are some blogs that I read on a daily basis. Blogs have become so popular that some people revisit the same blogs daily and almost think of them as their way to get news. Instead of going to http://www.cnn.com to get the latest news, they will open their favorite news blog and not only get the news, but also get the writer’s opinion and own voice on that particular article. Blogs have not only become a source of news but also a source of entertainment.

You mention above the EFF, which is a legal guide for bloggers. Are people supposed to reference this if they have a blog or are writing or posting something controversial? Further, is this something you can access from the blog you are writing? I am not sure how laws are enforced on blogs and I am wondering if websites that offer blogs should add these Legal Guidelines to their disclaimer and also on each page of a blog. If Perez Hilton is writing about how he thinks Michael Jackson died, what if someone believes this is real news? It may seem unintelligent but sometimes it is hard to determine the age of some viewers.

Here is an website that has some articles regarding the freedom of speech online:
http://www.aclu.org/freespeech/internet/27138res20061020.html

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