Media law online Kathy Olson Lehigh University What laws apply to online content? What liability do online publishers have for: ◦ something they post? ◦ something others post? Media law online Rules for online content same as print: Blog posts Blog comments Facebook E-mail message Tweets Media law torts Libel Invasion of privacy ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Intrusion False light Misappropriation Publication of private facts Copyright Libel Libel is: - A false statement of fact - “of and concerning the plaintiff” - that hurts the plaintiff’s reputation - and was published by the defendant - with the necessary degree of fault: ◦ Negligence for private figures ◦ “Actual malice” for public officials, public figures “Twibel” Simorangkir v. Love (Calif. state court, 2009) Libel for bloggers Ronson v. Lavandeira (Calif. state court, 2007) Libel Republication rule BUT: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act: ◦ Protects publishers of online content from libel suits based on user-generated content ◦ Protection may remain even if you moderate or edit that content Privacy Intrusion Misappropriation ◦ Must be commercial use of name or likeness ◦ Newsworthiness is a defense False light ◦ Must be false ◦ Actual malice required for public figures Publication of private facts ◦ Newsworthiness is a defense Copyright Protects “original works of authorship” that are “fixed in a tangible medium” Copyright owner controls the right to copy, display, distribute and make “derivative works” Damage awards can be substantial The fair use doctrine offers some protection Is it fair use? X17 Inc. v. Lavandeira (Calif. federal court, 2006) The purpose and character of the use The nature of the copyrighted work used The amount of the work used in relation to the copyright as a whole The impact of the use upon the potential value of the work Copyright The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects bloggers from liability for third-party infringement IF they: Establish a procedure for “notice and takedown.” Have no knowledge of infringing material on site, and Remove infringing material when notified by copyright owner. Questions?