10 steps bloggers should take to avoid getting sued

September 21, 2012

Being sued over blog posts is bad, and being threatened with legal action can be just as bad.  Saturday morning, at the 2012 Minnesota Blogger Conference, I am presenting on …

10 steps bloggers should take to avoid getting sued

1. Tell the truth

Libel is a claim that a communicator has harmed someone’s reputation by publishing something false.  So truth is the ultimate defense to a libel suit.   A blog post that says horrible things about someone is not libelous if it is true.

2.  Report for jury duty

Sometimes even false posts are legally protected.  That’s because a jury ultimately decides whether the blogger did “what a reasonable blogger would do” under the circumstances.

3.  Focus on the famous

Politicians, celebrities, and other public figures must prove “actual malice” to win a libel suit.  So if you stick to writing about famous people, the risk of legal liability decreases.

4.  Act like the AARP era

Most of a blogger’s legal defenses were enacted with the Mainstream Media in mind.  So emulate the “AARP” generation by Avoiding Anonymous Sources, Attributing Information, Retracting When Necessary, and Publishing Regularly.

5.  Know when truth doesn’t matter

Bloggers do risk liability for publishing true information if doing so is an invasion of privacy.  So don’t publish Social Security numbers or bank-account information, and tread carefully with racy pictures.

6.  Stay local

Most laws governing bloggers are state laws, enforced separately and differently in each state.  So posting about people outside Minnesota increases the chance, complexity, and cost of litigation.

7.  Keep SLAPP in the face

Minnesota is among states with laws that protect against “SLAPP” lawsuits, which are Strategic Lawsuits filed to prevent Public Participation.  The SLAPP laws provide extra protection to bloggers who write about public issues

8.  Picture a troll

“Copyright trolls” patrol the internet, looking for material used without the owner’s permission.  Bloggers are easy prey.   Know where your pictures come from, and get permission to publish if necessary.

9.  Act in moderation

Some believe that bloggers can avoid legal liability by not moderating comments.  I disagree.  Moderate your comments and remove the dicey ones.

10.  Blog as a matter of policy

Read your business and homeowners’ insurance policies for whether you’re covered if you’re sued.  Consider purchasing a separate policy for bloggers.


8 Responses to “10 steps bloggers should take to avoid getting sued”

  1. […] kindly posted his ten tips over on his blog, Media Law Minnesota. They are solid tips, and I urge you to read them. Below are a few tidbits […]

  2. Rachel Ramey Says:

    Sigh. And number 11 – move out of the United States. People here are way too sue-happy, and judges are often completely ridiculous about awarding frivolous lawsuits. (You know, like, “Oh, my gosh! The hot coffee I ordered was actually HOT! I burned myself. Because as an adult of an age capable of legal action, I was still too stupid to realize that hot coffee burns!”)

  3. […] If you’re interested in what those ten steps are, here is the direct link: 10 Steps Bloggers Should Take to Avoid Getting Sued […]

    • Bosy Says:

      Kathy and everyone that tetiifsed.. I so wish I had known that this was happening!! So behind the times living where we do! I grew up on a dairy farm in Northern Minnesota, raised my children on raw milk until my parents went with the buy out in the late ’80s. I am a STRONG advocate on the health benefits of raw milk and today am fortunate to be able to purchase directly from a local farmer my weekly supply of raw milk. Oh the Stories I could and would love to share! If ever you need help what ever down at the Capital please contact me, I do have several emails but messaging me at facebook will go directly to my cell, or this one would also work too ~ Keep up the GREAT Job!!!!! Becky C.

      • Sumonkadir Says:

        Even if a close friend wants you to use their crdeit card details, I would recommend not doing it.If some random person offered you this, then its for sure illegal or shady. Stay away and protect yourself and the real victim (the true owner of that crdeit card).Besides, if you were to go forward and get away with it, then scammers like the person that sent you that number will just keep on scamming us good people?Make sense?Have a good day and Happy Holidays.

      • Kolopaido Says:

        What a great reoursce this text is.

    • Ester Says:

      Sadly, I missed this buaecse I was at ComicCon and I am only just now recovering.My Dad was on the ARPA net back in the 70 s and supposedly downloaded me a game from it using an old military surplus dial up modem that you would put that handset of a rotary phone in. But my first interaction was with GOPHER SPACE!

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