Blog Postings are Potential Lawsuits

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Brooklyn, NYBe careful what you blog about. If the courts have their way, you may not be protected by freedom of speech on the Internet. A number of lawsuits have emerged over content and Internet privacy issues and blogging in particular.

According to the L.A. Times, one blogger is facing up to 10 years jail time for posting a comment that three Chicago judges "deserve to be killed" for having rejected a 2nd Amendment challenge to the city's handgun ban in 2009. A jury in Brooklyn, NY convicted him this month of threatening the lives of the judges on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Under federal law, websites typically are not liable for comments posted by outsiders. They can, however, be forced to reveal the poster's identity if the post includes false information presented as fact.

In western Pennsylvania, a judge recently ruled a community website must identify the Internet address of individuals who posted comments calling a township official a "jerk" who put money from the taxpayers in "his pocket." He also owned a car lot and someone on the website trashed his cars as "junk". The official sued for defamation, claiming the comments were false and damaged his reputation. In a similar ruling, a North Carolina official sued bloggers on a local website for calling him a slumlord.

Media law experts advise that bloggers and e-mailers need to think twice before hitting the 'send' button.

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