Bloggers have rights. Did you know that? You do. Bloggers also have limits to those rights and freedoms. The Electronic Frontier Foundation – Bloggers Legal Rights outlines what your rights are and what work is being done to protect them.
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.
Of most value may be The Overview of Legal Liability Issues FAQ addressing common legal issues as a publisher and writer, The Bloggers’ FAQ on Intellectual Property covers issues of publishing material created by others, The Bloggers’ FAQ on Online Defamation Law, The Bloggers’ FAQ on Section 230 Protections which covers federal law portecting you against legal claims from hosting third party information, and The Bloggers’ FAQ on Privacy, covering the legal issues of privacy rights not just for you but the people you mention in your blog.
Remember, it is your responsibility to know your blogging rights, what you can and cannot do on your blog. Freedom of Speech is a right and a privilege. As a privilege, there are rules. Claiming you didn’t know after the fact doesn’t work. Know before you blog.
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- Freedom of Speech – Bloggers Legal Rights