Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bloggers: New Legal Targets?

Calblog has this post, which I saw linked by Overlawyered. Some excerpts:

The amount of litigation aimed at blogging will be in direct proportion to its overall impact in society.

It won't just be libel suits (though that will certainly be a strong weapon in the anti-blogging arsenal), it will also be the recent convergence of copyright, trademark, "publicity" rights, and trade secret claims that have converged in recent years to make free speech an ephemeral notion.

Even the technology of linking that blogs thrive on will be assaulted by the legal establishment - as it has assaulted everything in the past that challenges the supremacy of the status quo.

I also regret to say that some of Patterico's commenters to his post are being a bit naive. Civil suits are powerful weapons against people with little resources. Lawsuits regarding libel, intellectual property and related claims are not about being financially compensated (well, not usually anyway) - they are about shutting down another's speech. It is a censorship tool to bully the competition with. Many (even most) bloggers will back down in the face of a lawsuit they likely know to be frivolous since they don't have neither the time or resources to fight in the first place.

I think it will just depend. Big corporations like Disney or Microsoft have a gagillion dollars to spend on litigation, and they can be very intimidating if they get a blogger on their radar screen. Yet the sheer number of blogs on the 'net leads me to believe a large amount of legally questionable material will simply blend in with the herd.

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