Legal Rights for Bloggers

Bloggers' Rights at EFF
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released “the Legal Guide for Bloggers, a collection of blogger-specific FAQs addressing everything from fair use to defamation law to workplace whistle-blowing.”

The introduction to the Guide says,

Whether you’re a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you’ve been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don’t want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that’s under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you’re doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn’t help – in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven’t yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here’s the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn’t use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That’s why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

The announcement at Blogger’s Rights contains links to the document and to usable badges like the one shown here.

I’ll be writing about fair use and the Shepard Fairey case regarding the Obama Hope poster tomorrow on BlogHer. I hope you’ll take a look at that article.

As with disability law and accessiblity on the web, so too with fair use and the rights of bloggers: very little is set into legal precedent yet in the current world. In the uncertain legal period we are muddling through, it’s good that an organization like the Electronic Frontier Foundation is working to help us be clear about our rights.

ADDED 2/14/09. Here’s the BlogHer article: The Murky Mysteries of Fair Use Rise Again.

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