Has anyone ever been sued over a wordpress.com blog?

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  • #434428

    I was having a discussion with a friend of mine tonight and we were wondering if anyone has ever been sued over a blog that was hosted on wordpress.com? He’s interested in starting a blog but is afraid that the topics he blogs about could get him into trouble.

    I told him to not worry about it but then I started doing a little research and it seems that it’s becoming much more common for people to seek legal action over things that have been stated on a blog.

    Anyone know what wordpress’ policy is on this?

    #434663

    timethief
    Member

    That sounds like a great project to pursue by use of search engines. Obviously you wouldn’t want answers off the top of our heads as one must practice due diligence prior to making any statements at all about legal suits. Happy hunting. :)

    #434668

    raincoaster
    Member

    I’m not aware of any blogging platform, let alone a free one, that offers complete freedom from prosecution or lawsuits. WordPress is not a legal-services corporation, it just supplies and operates the software. If a blogger puts something on their blog that lands them in court, they are pretty much on their own.

    That’s not a WordPress issue; that’s a publishing issue. It’s the guy who wrote and printed it that’s responsible, not the guy who built or rented out the printing press.

    #434673
    #434674

    feartheseeds
    Member

    …a New York court recently forced Google / Blogger, as part of a defamation lawsuit, to identify an anonymous blogger. So there is some legal liability to the blogging platform.

    …if you’re asking what topics will get you sued it basically comes down to libel and slander. Don’t make stuff up and present it as fact. There are also things which are illegal in most countries, like child pornography and death threats, so, you know, those are no-noes as well.

    #434675

    mark
    Staff

    Sort of related:
    http://kperch.blogspot.com/2010/01/ugc-ruling-comfort-for-bloggers.html
    though we operate under US law.

    Sued here? No idea because we’d not be involved.

    1. Someone – usually a lawyer – sends me a PDF which demands lots of things.
    2. I ask for more details because they write a lot but say little.
    3. If they want our details or if I am not sure I give them our company address and advise them that without a Court Order we reveal nothing.
    4. At that point it goes to Toni. I believe that we would then have to reveal
    the name used on registering the blog
    the email address used on the blog
    I’m honestly not sure about the IP address

    If the blog is factually wrong, cites anonymous sources for allegations or is actually defamatory, or reveals confidential information then the blog would either be suspended or editing would be needed. The burden of proof would almost certainly be on the blogger because they are the ones writing it.

    So if you are careful with words you will be fine.

    That help?

    I know of one blog which continued to publish information despite being asked not to and despite being told to be careful with their language. They lost their blog.
    I know of a fair number of blogs which have had legal notices sent to us and we think they are okay so they stay. They can say what they want so logn as they stay inside the law and many find that quite easy.

    #434683

    tellyworth
    Staff

    Anyone can sue anyone else for pretty much anything (I’m told the classic example given to law students is suing someone for having greener grass).

    So, almost certainly yes. Whether or not the lawsuit was successful or even went anywhere is another matter.

    99% of the time the purpose isn’t to win a lawsuit, it’s to shut down the blog.

    #434688

    Your friend should do some press and the law research for the country he lives in. Often people are so unaware of the rules they either get their butts sued or – just as bad – they fail to publish perfectly acceptable material that the public has a right to know of.
    .
    At the end of the day the best way to go is: Publish and be damned! Just be aware of how much damnation you’re willing to bear should it come to that.

    #434692

    ‘Publish and be damned’ is dangerous advice if you cannot prove that what you are saying about someone is true and it:
    Exposes them to hatred, ridicule or contempt
    or
    Causes them to be shunned or avoided
    or
    Discredits them in their trade, business or profession
    or
    Generally lowers them in the eyes of right thinking members of society
    (UK law)
    You may be willing to bear ‘damnation’ – but a court order to cough up some compensation may be a little more tricky…

    #434693

    raincoaster
    Member

    It’s dangerous to advise people to abide by laws which do not apply to them.

    WordPress.com blogs are bound by US law. They may also be bound by the law of the country in which the blogger resides. Letters does not reside in the UK, nor do most people, so that’s something that we don’t have to worry about.

    He is a journalist. He knows what he’s talking about.

    #434696

    Hi raincoaster – I’m not advising people to abide by laws which do not apply to them. I made no suggestion about anyone not knowing what they’re talking about – I wouldn’t dream of doing so. I was just highlighting what the UK law is (I did say it was UK law). I’m not sure what you’re telling me off about?

    #434699

    raincoaster
    Member

    Your post implies that what you said applies everywhere. If you wanted to specify that it only applies to the UK, either preface it with that remark or ask if anyone posting here is, in fact, from the UK, otherwise the information is irrelevant and misleading.

    #434706

    Hi raincoaster – In fact it is possible that blogs originated outside the UK could still be subject to legal action under UK laws. This proposition is currently being tested in the case of the Chinese, but US-based gaming company, Evony, which is currently suing a UK-based blogger for libel in the Australian courts (Evony could have just as easily selected the UK courts to pursue their case which place a similar onus of responsibility onto the person accused of libel to prove that they are telling the truth or that their statements are reasonable). http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/08/26/why-use-warren-mckeon-dickson-to-threaten-me/
    As Bruce Everiss (the blogger being sued) says:

    “You might be wondering why a Chinese company is threatening a British blog using an Australian solicitor. They can do this because the libel is supposedly committed anywhere that the blog is read. And that is pretty much everywhere on earth.”

    I just think it’s a good idea to be careful and to be aware of what’s going on in the world of internet libel.

    #434718

    Hi dbennison,
    Dangerous advice? Only in the hands of the stupid. Publish and be damned is an old journalism adage. It presumes you are already abiding by the rules governing the press in the country the article is to appear.

    #434729

    timethief
    Member
    #434736

    tellyworth
    Staff

    WordPress.com blogs are bound by US law. They may also be bound by the law of the country in which the blogger resides. Letters does not reside in the UK, nor do most people, so that’s something that we don’t have to worry about.

    Blogs aren’t bound to follow any laws except physics. People are bound by laws. WordPress.com staff are generally bound by California law, and we can’t host blogs that would place us in violation of the law there. Individual bloggers are bound by whatever laws apply in the location where they’re blogging.

    Torts and civil suits are a little different. Anyone can be sued for anything anywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the lawsuit has any bearing on you. If someone sues me in China, I’ll shrug and add their subpoena to my collection of lawyergrams.

    #434744

    First, to Mark: thanks very much for your brief email that I just picked up tonight.So far so good.

    To ‘raincoaster’, ‘tellyworth’ and ‘timethief’: please have a look at my blog which is http://draaiorgelfan.wordpress.com, and look at ‘Dateline – July 2006’. The fellow described on that page has threatened a lawsuit against me over the content and photos. He’s claiming a Privacy violation. Well, the photos are publicly viewable on other websites and BOTH photos are ‘Save as..’-able.

    The fellow is the creator/maintainer of http://thegolddiggers.wordpress.com, one of the most outstanding works in all of WordPress. I have high praise for his work, and I’ll say so when I continue expanding my blog’s ‘YG and Links’ page. Behind the scenes, tho, he was disrespectful of several individuals including myself. His offenses are not a public matter so I won’t list them here or on my blog, but he’ll stay out in the open until he makes amends. Old West American Indian discipline, simple as that.

    Thanks from Ralph. Happy New Year to all!

    #434749

    On a related note, if you are unaware of the predators laying in wait out there to sue your ass off, they do exist:

    http://lettershometoyou.wordpress.com/2008/02/23/every-ecosystem-has-its-predators-and-bottom-feeders/

    Just a story of some German couple who run a website that has thousands of photos on it. They bury their copyright notice. When a blogger unwittingly uses one of the photos, they sick their lawyers on them. Scummy way to make a living.

    #434751

    scopettg
    Member

    What Tellyworth mentioned brings out one issue that I have already mentioned before. We have to understand the real issue behind legal frameworks whereby normal lawyers won’t.

    Each state may impose upon the entities within itself a law. But the problem is, when one sees it from an international point of view, each state doesn’t have the exact power to interfere in international activities. I have mentioned many times whereby activities not drafted and AGREED upon by states (including those stated in Laws of Seas) in the open seas cannot be legally liable.

    But many bloggers and lawyers in respective states while on one hand can comprehend the above case, but they usually don’t get it when it comes to open cyberspace.

    Raincoaster is wrong to assert that the laws only implies on the people. Basically, laws are simply rules and when it comes to IT, it conforms to standards. Which mean servers, if the blogger and the server and the host and everything can be physically computed into a legal framework, all of them WILL be liable to the particular state’s legal framework.

    But… just as gambling in the open seas, if there is no agreement signed among all the states, it’s not possible to be an offence.

    In international relations however, it is hence whether your state is sleeping and forcefully assumed that it is itself is legitimate to impose a full justice on assessment of cross-state or cross-sovereignty case… It is like international laws stated that a criminal in the States shall have thise recourse, but the States… being powerful, simply go ahead and ignore UN agreements and execute that criminal.

    This is hence the Laws.

    Bloggers must understand that IN FACT, no single state can impose upon bloggers’ online activities since there is NO international treaties (eg) under the UN to do so. All laws must be based on such black and white. So people must understand the REAL concept of international laws here.

    In fact, with extradiction for certain ‘offences’, you are a bankrupt in Carlifornia, you may be a rich man in Cuba… LOL~ By law…

    If you are not sure, we can discuss this again in my blog.

    #434753

    scopettg
    Member

    Mark,

    Hi there! I am not saying you are wrong, but it may be nice to take note that there is REALLY no internet laws on blogging. I mean, would you think Singapore laws or troublemakers should be listened to or Canadian folks when you are physically living in California?

    While there is no real laws internationally for this community here but wordpress’ ‘laws’ to operation within this host, all of us must also understand that doesn’t mean we can just anyohow blog… because when *’in reality’* if the police side with a powerful asshole, even if you blog nothing or eat a banana, you’d still be ‘liable’.

    It’s just a fact of life.

    The strict use of publication laws, for eg, in Singapore is that it doesn’t really applies to blogging. But courts may still resort to a single state’s legal framework to fall back on… which is not legitimate because the basis of justice system cannot be fall back on partial basis… since Mark’s servers are in three countries, and as the old publishing industry whereby journalists have their articles sent to (eg) Superman Newpapers to be published, they will hold both journalists and publisher liable. Which mean, USA may have a law protecting server operators from publishing tons of blogs, but that’s about as nothing… because USA is USA laws. If Mark is marked by China for allowing Falun Gung publication and the China leaders are sooooo gung-ho, when Mark visits China, they can still shoot him dead… LOL~

    Mark, my humble view is… when you are preparing to host all of us here, WordPress must be prepared to cover for all of us as best as possible. There will always be bullies citing whatever laws, what we need is an understanding host who knows that in real, there is NO laws here.

    People, for instance, if USA bans Mark’s host, Mark can still operate in Canada… WordPress will still be around. There’s the basic issue about blogging legality.

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