02 June, 2009

More bloggers brought to court in US

American actress Anna Nicole Smith.Image via Wikipedia

As I have read in some books about blogging and web publishing, publishers and bloggers have the responsibility to be careful about what they blog about – YES, it can be anything and everything, but not something amounting to libel… it is the blogger's responsibility, and those who approve of it…

Exercise care and caution in your blogging. Blogging is free, so don't make that freedom bring you un-freedom.

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HOUSTON (Texas) — A real estate agent in Houston who blogged about Anna Nicole Smith was jailed for contempt last week in a defamation case brought by the late Playboy model's mother.

Legal experts said bloggers are increasingly the targets of such litigation, which are testing the bounds of free speech.

Lyndal Harrington, 53, is accused of helping to spread falsehoods that Smith's mother Virgie Arthur abused her as a child. Harrington spent four nights in jail after she failed to comply with a court order to turn over her computer.

Like many bloggers, Harrington doesn't consider herself a publisher and did not realize she could be held liable for her posts.

Three other bloggers are named in the suit along with Smith's former companion, Howard K Stern, and Larry Birkhead, the father of her daughter, Dannielynn. Ms Arthur alleges that the defendants conspired to defame her so she wouldn't get custody of Dannielynn, who could inherit up to US$88 million ($126 million).

Lawsuits against bloggers in the United States have been doubling every year since 2004 with US$15 million in judgments so far against them, according to Mr Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association.

"A lot of bloggers think of themselves as individuals or maybe writers but in the courts, they are considered a publisher," Mr Cox said. AFP

From TODAYOnline.com; see the source article here.


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