by Marcia Taylor

In a recent YouGov
survey, respondents showed lack of understanding and consensus about
the laws regarding blogging and User Generated Content (UGC). It’s interesting reading as over 77% of the bloggers surveyed are unclear on the legal liability issues. While
the study was conducted in the UK, most of the issue raised regarding
defamation and intellectual property are similar to laws in the US.

Duncan Calow, a digital media law specialist and partner within DLA Piper’s Technology, Media and Commercial practice commented:"The combination of
confusion and complacency about the relationship between the law and
UGC puts users at risk as they come under increasing scrutiny online.
Blogs and online forums may differ from traditional media in their
style and purpose, but their content is still publicly consumed and
they have the equivalent potential to cause damage and offence and
infringe others
′rights. Far from being immune from the law, UGC is in particular danger of falling foul of it."

I won’t bore you with reciting more statistics. You can follow the story in The Guardian or The Telegraph. Basically,
many users don’t read the legal terms of use or guidelines on many
websites and believe they aren’t responsible for the posts or comments
they make. The results were almost tied for bloggers in support of or
opposed to a voluntary code of conduct.

Calow
continued, "…It is clear, however, that many internet users would also
benefit from, if not welcome, some clearer guidance about posting
comment online. There is a big difference between censorship and
protection – some have called for a code of conduct to provide guidance
for bloggers and other users.  That won’t change the law and many
bloggers may still say they’ll "publish and be damned" – but they ought
to be damned sure what the law says before they do.
"

Comments
are not redistributed by Newstex for a variety of reasons. Bloggers and
those commenting on blogs should be aware that there could be
implications for what they say. Even though we all enjoy
utilizing new platforms of expression, it’s still not a free press and
none of us are really anonymous. Chose your words carefully, we want to
continue reading and distributing what you have to say.