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The Courts

Submission + - Blogger beware: Postings can lead to lawsuits (latimes.com) 1

suraj.sun writes: The Internet has allowed tens of millions of Americans to be published writers. But it also has led to a surge in lawsuits from those who say they were hurt, defamed or threatened by what they read, according to groups that track media lawsuits.

"It was probably inevitable, but we have seen a steady growth in litigation over content on the Internet," said Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center in New York.

Although bloggers may have a free-speech right to say what they want online, courts have found that they are not protected from being sued for their comments, even if they are posted anonymously.

Hal Turner, a right-wing blogger from New Jersey, faces up to 10 years in prison for posting a comment that three Chicago judges "deserve to be killed", in western Pennsylvania, a judge recently ruled a community website must identify the Internet address of individuals who posted comments calling a township official a "jerk" who put money from the taxpayers in "his pocket."

The Supreme Court has said that the 1st Amendment's protection for the freedom of speech includes the right to publish "anonymous" pamphlets. But recently, judges have been saying that online speakers do not always have a right to remain anonymous.

"The first thing people need to realize, they can be held accountable for what they say online," Baron said. "Before you speak ill of anyone online, you should think hard before pressing the 'send' button."

LA Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/23/nation/la-na-blogger-suits-20100823

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