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more on internet libel

By on Sep 30, 2005 in internet libel, law |

Last week I wrote that a court in British Columbia, Canada worryingly asserted jurisdiction over the alleged libel of a Canadian man by a US based newspaper website. Now the High Court in Canada has gone against this ruling and decided that it can’t assert jurisdiction in a case (see this report from The Guardian) involving the Washington Post. The decision in the Canadian case doesn’t set binding precedent for courts outside Canada but the precedent is likely to be reviewed by the courts of other nations and could very well prove influential in their decisions about jurisdiction in internet libel cases. This is good news for internet publishers. So how much danger is there that website publishers will fall prey to a libel claim? Not much actually, at least in the UK. Libel cases are extremely costly to bring before the courts (and to defend against) but legal aid is not provided for defamation cases. Since 1998, some solicitors [in a move that has been criticised] have been willing to take libel cases on a "no win no fees" basis and this, according to research undertaken by legal publisher Sweet & Maxwell, has led to an increase in libel cases brought before the UK courts. But there still aren’t many – 96 libel cases were brought before the High Court in 2000, the highest number on record for a single year. There could, however, be more cases than that. Since the Woolf reforms, those bringing smaller claims (<£10,000) of defamation can enter into a "fast-stream" process which can lead to restitution in the form of a published apology and/or financial compensation capped at £10,000. This process can lead to many cases being dealt with before they reach the High Court and – importantly – falling beneath the radar of Sweet & Maxwell’s research. None of this means that internet publishers, or anyone for that matter, should worry less about the implications of being the target of a libel suit. Libel cases are complex and expensive to bring before the court and few actually make it before the jury (defamation cases are heard by a jury). However, it’s likely that most cases are now being dealt with by the fast track system so the costs, risks, and rewards are all less than in High Court cases. Potentially, as word gets out about the fast track system and "no win no fees" legal providers, more potential claimants could come forward. Luckily those claims won’t be for the astronomical rewards often seen in High Court cases. The issue of jurisdiction in internet libel cases is probably far from over although the Canadian case above certainly helps move things in the right direction for web publishers (although perhaps not for those defamed by them!). So keep worrying, but let’s keep it all in perspective. [The above post is for informational purposes only and doesn’t constitute legal advice. You wouldn’t let a random person off the street give you brain surgery so why let a random blogger explain the law to you?! Contact a qualified solicitor before acting upon any information contained here.] More from Cybersoc on user generated content and the law, message board libel,...

looking for a community conference…

By on Sep 30, 2005 in conferences/events, online community, social software | 1 comment

It’s been announced that the 8th Infonortics Virtual Communities conference, originally scheduled for November 2005, has been cancelled. It’s a real shame. The conference has always drawn some pretty high caliber speakers from around the world and, most years at least, was full new ideas, practical tips for practitioners and lots of other useful "takeaways" as they call them on the conference scene. Cliff Figallo and Jenny Preece, who’ve both published books about the art of building online communities, have been speakers. Bill Thompson turned up one year and Tom Coates gave a presentation in 2002. Joe Cothrel, Miranda Mowbray and Dawn Yankeelov each always had something interesting to say. Nancy White (who is also "bummed" about this news) and Will Davies both dropped in to the conference in 2004 and challenged us to think a little bit differently about online community. So has anyone heard of any other good conferences in the UK? (and if you’re organising a conference email me the details and I’ll put a blurb up...

when you say “blogging” they hear “dogging”

By on Sep 30, 2005 in BBC |

BBC News reports on a survey that shows 7 of 10 adults don’t know what a blog is and 9 out of 10 have never heard of podcasting. One of the authors of the report says: "When I asked the panel whether people were talking about blogging, they thought I meant dogging. Our research not only shows that there is no buzz about blogging and podcasting outside of our media industry bubble, but also that people have no understanding of what the words mean. It’s a real wake-up call." I’m really going to watch how loudly I say "blogging" in public…

making money from blogs: what’s with the ads mate?!

By on Sep 27, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

You might have noticed that over the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with placing a few ads on this blog. This post both explains why these ads are appearing and provides links that other bloggers might find useful if they’re thinking of trying to use advertising to pay for their blog host fees. I’m currently paying £75 a year in typepad fees and £144 in hosting fees with Demon (that’s about US $390 a year total). Regardless of the fact that I think that this is a small price to pay to be able to reach so many people with my work, I’m looking for ways to make this site pay for itself. I reckon I might just about be able to recoup 50% of my annual outlay… I look set to make US $15 from Google’s Adsense programme this month [Yahoo entered the market in August]. When you use the search box at the top of this page it takes you through to google’s results and, if you click on one of their sponsored links, I get a percentage of their advertising revenue. The google links to the right work in the same way although clicking on them will take you straight to the site of the advertiser.  I don’t necessarily endorse any of the sites listed by the search results or in the googe ad space. I’ve also got some books advertised using Amazon’s Associates. I’ve personally read each one of these and really do recommend them. I’ve also advertised ipods, powerbooks and other geek kit that I personally own and use. When you click through and buy something I get a small percentage of the sale revenue from Amazon. Finally, you may, from time to time, notice links to various other products and services. At present those include Vbulletin, which is message board software I have used and recommend although I’d suggest potential purchasers also have a look at the very similar UBB. Vbulletin is a member of Commission Junction programme. I’m also advertising, via a service called Linkshare, two dating services at the top of the right side of the page, primarily because I still get a large number of site visits from people searching google using search terms like online dating, cybersex, online flirting etc. These visitors don’t necessarily find anything of value here so I might as well point them in the direction of what they are looking for. I was once a member of lavalife, one of the two dating sites, and think it’s the perfect place for visitors who want to chat, flirt and have some fun. So that’s the scoop on the ads appearing on this site. If you see an ad that looks interesting please do click on it as your doing so helps me pay the costs of running this site (I doubt I’ll ever break even though!). As always, there may very well be other products and services that suit your needs just as well as those advertised here and, if you’re really put off by the ads, you can avoid them altogether by subscribing to my RSS...

Cyberspace 2005: internet law conf

By on Sep 26, 2005 in conferences/events, law |

A preliminary programme for Cyberspace 2005 in Brno, Czech Republic (7-8 November 2005) is now available online. It looks like registration for the two day conference is 19 euros with accomodation available for an additional 17 euros per night. That makes a nice change!