Bloggers Warned They Can Be Sued for Libel

    December 6, 2004

In an editorial published Sunday the editors of the Dallas Morning News, while praising bloggers, warned them – particularly younger ones …

… that they could be sued for libel (free registration or BugMeNot required) …

“We hate to spoil the fun, but there’s something you newbie bloggers need to know before committing journalism on your shiny new Web sites: You are now a publisher and could be sued for libel.

Libel law, as it applies to this new Internet form of journalism, is still being worked out in the courts. But bloggers and those who post comments on chat boards should be aware that in most cases, the same libel and privacy laws that govern the conduct of professional journalists also apply to them.

One important distinction: A blogger generally cannot be held liable for libelous material posted by someone else on the blogger’s Web site. But any content created by the blogger is subject to a libel claim. It’s great fun to waylay your enemies with scorching online invective – but if you (or, parents, please note, your children) cross the libel line while online, look out for lawyers.”

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.