Lawsuits Filed Against Bloggers Increasing

Posted on October 3, 2006

Lawsuits filed against bloggers are increasing according to a USA Today news story.

Legal analysts say the lawsuits are challenging a mind-set that has long surrounded blogging: that most bloggers essentially are "judgment-proof" because they - unlike traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and television outlets - often are ordinary citizens who don't have a lot of money. Recent lawsuits by Banks and others who say they have had their reputations harmed or their privacy violated have been aimed not just at cash awards but also at silencing their critics.

"Bloggers didn't think they could be subject to libel," says Eric Robinson, a Media Law Resource Center attorney. "You take what is on your mind, type it and post it."

Robert Cox, founder and president of the Media Bloggers Association, told USA Today that someday a blogger will be successfully sued and lose his or her home.
Robert Cox, founder and president of the Media Bloggers Association, which has 1,000 members, says the recent wave of lawsuits means that bloggers should bone up on libel law. "It hasn't happened yet, but soon, there will be a blogger who is successfully sued and who loses his home," he says. "That will be the shot heard round the blogosphere."
That is an alarming thought. It goes without saying that bloggers should be careful and avoid blogging things they know are not true about businesses and people. The EFF has a good FAQ about libel here. Cox does encourage bloggers to fight back and protect the right to free speech in lawsuits that are "filed merely to silence critics."

50 lawsuits have been filed over postings on blogs and web message boards over the past two years according to the USA Today article. The article didn't differentiate between blog posts and blog comments but there have been lawsuits over both. It also didn't say how many of the 50 lawsuits were filed specifically against blgos and not message boards. The bright side of the story for bloggers is that fifty lawsuits is still very, very small compared to the 50+ million blogs Technorati is tracking.

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