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Legal Consequences of Social Media

Social media-related lawsuits are on the rise, reports The Ottawa Citizen. Some of the suits are fairly high-profile, such as the action by Austin, Texas-based designer Dawn Simorangkir accusing rocker Courtney Love of defamation via Twitter. But there are plenty of other Web-related actions involving non-celebrities: 258 so far this year, according to the New York-based Media Law Resource Center. That's more than double the 110 Web-related actions filed last year. The majority of the suits are related to blog postings, with the remainder related to a variety of issues, such as defamation, copyright infringement and fake profiles on social media.

Lawsuits are hitting bloggers particularly hard for several reasons. First, most bloggers have no idea that they could be liable for defamatory content, says Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association. The MBA created an insurance plan for bloggers, since many discovered that their personal liability policies do not cover blogs, which are considered commercial even if they generate only a de minimis amount of revenue. Bloggers can procure coverage from MBA for $540/year, with coverage of $100,000 per incident.

The potential for liability makes many lawyers skittish about blogging to begin with -- according to the 2008 ABA Technology Survey, only 2 percent of lawyers blog. Perhaps the availability of liability policies will encourage more lawyers to take the risk. What do you think?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 4, 2009 at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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