I was watching the news and a fellow blogger from my state is getting sued for $25M over comments that he made about a developer in his real estate blog. I'm not going to go into specifics or name names for fear of generating my own lawsuit but I don't really think that this is fair. So I want to cover a few areas that I think this lawsuit will end up setting a precedence for:
"In print, it's Libel" Yes, there are laws against making statements that can harm someones income potential if the statements are not actually facts. You need to clearly state that your statement is opinion based or editorial. Now, not all bloggers have taken any sort of journalism class and there are some bloggers that think they are writers despite having no formal training. Every blogger should study up on the Libel laws.
"A blog by any other name" Warning, the following statement is purely opinion and should not be taken as fact, expressed or implied, in any context. I think that by definition, a blog is a personal journal and should be assumed by the reader to be opinion based. Unless otherwise stated within the blog that a statement is a verifiable fact. For example when pepsi got sued by some tv viewer that actually tried to buy a fighter jet with pepsi points because he saw it in the commercial. Yes, it seems like false advertising but the courts ruled that it was obviously a joke and the tv viewer should have known better.
"Freedom of speech", the ability to speak freely without censorship. Granted, we still have to stick to the Libel laws as mentioned above but should blogging be considered news or just opinion? Again, this is a very gray area.
"Can you make money blogging" Well, it seems like we are about to find out if you can make more money blogging or more money suing bloggers. It seems like everyone these days wants to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, many people think that the best way to do that is to file a lawsuit against someone. I'm afraid this may be the beginning of what will be a whole slew of people vs bloggers lawsuits.