Lawsuits against bloggers are starting to pop up... you may want to add a "Comments Disclaimer" to your blog
You knew it was only a matter of time before lawyers got into the act, right? And I don't mean the many lawyers writing blawgs (as they're called). So far there is very little case law relating specifically to blogs and bloggers. That's changing. A case against a 19-year-old Harvard student who writes a Mac lovers blog called ThinkSecret is (last I heard) pending in California's Supreme Court. Apple contends he leaked proprietary information about the new iMac before the product was officially released.
More recently, blogger Aaron Wall was sued because of allegedly defamatory comments posted on his blog. (8/31/2005 Wall Street Journal: Blogger Faces Lawsuit Over Comments Posted By Readers.) Yes, you read that right. He's being sued because of comments other folks wrote and posted to his blog. The suit alleges that the comments reveal trade secrets about search engine optimization company Traffic-Power. I won't go into detail about the case. Instead I'll send you to...
a good synopsis here on Dave Taylor's blog.
Anyway, this latest legal move has got the blogosphere talking about adding a "comments disclaimer" to blogs. I don't know if it's absolutely necessary. But I decided to put up an initial draft of one. (You'll see it to the left, just under the Google search box.) This exchange between Dave Taylor and attorney Daniel Perry offered good advice on how to phrase it.
On other side note... if you think no one actually reads the comments posted to a blog, think again. Wall Street Journal reporter David Kesmodel, who wrote the article about Aaron Wall and Traffic-Power, was looking around for supporting quotes. Like the other 51% of journalists using blogs for research, he found lawyer and former judge Daniel Perry through a comment Perry left on Dave Taylor's blog. One thing led to another and Perry found himself being quoted in the WSJ a few days later. And he hasn't even launched his own blog, Weblawyer, yet! Dan, a blog with legal advice specifically for blogs is sorely needed. Start writing!
Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers