BlogWorld: Staying Away From Lawsuits

    November 9, 2007

Blogging can be all fun and games, and a great thing about it is that no one’s likely to get hurt.  Unfortunately, people are likely to be sued, and at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo, attorney Brett Trout discussed that subject.

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Much of Trout’s advice relates to thinking things through – he suggested that listeners weigh out all the angles before taking any action.  It’s “really hard to win a defamation case,” Trout explained.

Yet on that specific topic, the attorney noted that there is a difference between defamatory and negative opinions.  If, for example, some chairs are poorly made, saying that they suck isn’t defamatory against whatever workers made them.

Another interesting statement from Trout was the suggestion that “plagiarism is okay online.”  Again, there are qualifications – he suggested being careful when dealing with issues of education and law – but the attorney said that taking someone else’s ideas and making a derivative work is all right.  More specifically, parody, critical commentary, and news coverage are just fine.

On the whole, though, everything comes back to being thoughtful.  If you start to hear lawsuit-related rumblings, Trout advises you to “find out who you’re messing with and act accordingly.”

WebProNews Video anchor Abby Prince contributed to this report.