Can a blogger be sued for comments his readers left? That seems to be the case in the following story.
David Kesmodel of the Wall Street Journal breaks it down:
In a legal case being watched closely by bloggers, an Internet company has sued the owner of a Web log for comments posted to his site by readers.
Traffic-Power.com sued Aaron Wall, who maintains a blog on search engine optimization ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ tactics companies use to get themselves to appear higher in searches at Google, Yahoo and elsewhere ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ alleging defamation and publication of trade secrets. The suit, filed in a Nevada state court earlier this month, also listed as defendants several unnamed users of the blog.
At issue are statements posted in the comments section of Mr. Wall’s blog, SEOBook.com. Many blogs allow readers to post comments, often anonymously, and Mr. Wall’s blog included several reader submissions that blasted tools sold by Traffic-Power.com.
Traffic-Power.com said in the suit that confidential information about the company has been published on the blog, and it accused Mr. Wall of publishing “false and defamatory information,” but it didn’t identify any of the material in question.
Legal analysts said the case falls into somewhat murky legal territory, but that Mr. Wall may have some protection from liability under federal law. Courts generally have held that the operators of computer message boards and mailing lists cannot be held liable for statements posted by other people. Blogs might be viewed in a similar light, they said.
I’ve been waiting for this to happen, and it finally has. While this is merely a bump in the road, we need to appreciate the situation and offer support to those under attack.