Poetry from Phuoc-Tan Diep
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Avoiding legal fires in the blogosphere

I was talking last year about potential fires in the blogosphere and gave some thoughts (below). Obviously things are far more tense now than in 2007. If I was to add a "p" word to my list below then it would be "Promiscuity" - ie, the promiscuous nature of new media in constantly seeking new relations means that things can get out of hand very quickly and secret discussions go viral before you can say 'Dave Walker'. Trying to silence a blogger with a 'cease and desist' order is putting gas on the fire. What is whispered in quiet rooms gets shouted on the rooftops.


The post below was originally uploaded in January 2007. I am reposting it now because of the current wave of legal actions regarding blogs, in particular the Dave Walker legal nightmare which is gaining a lot of attention, but also because of this weeks talk of taking down offending blog posts.

Original: Beware The Blogosphere: Here Be Dragons (2007)
The age of blogging innocence appears to be over. We have to be careful with what we say and what we upload. With the legitimacy of the blogosphere comes responsibility. I really hope it stays small-townish and relational . .. but its also quite possible that 2007 will be the year where lawsuits will add an element of terror to blogging. God forbid we become so paranoid about blogging that we become as hesitant as haemophiliacs IN A RAZOR FACTORY!!. [no insult to haemophiliacs intended - PLEASE dont sue me!!] Nothing is completely clear since the online world is new territory but here are some rules that might save you from doing something stupid and some ways to extinguish the blaze if a fire ignites.

Neverheardofpryomaniacs-PoiPoint to files rather than republish them. YouTube makes this easy for videos by giving you html code for your blog that points to their source - and they take care of the bandwidth and storage issues. When I use a mp3 music file in a viewer, i point to its original location.

NeverheardofpryomaniacsprivNot everyone wants to be outed publicly or have their mug on your video. Ask first and if in doubt, don't publish it.

Neverheardofpryomaniacs-PdfArticles in .PDF format belong to someone. Give them rights and control over the originals by not republishing them on your own site. Then the author doesn't have to chase down a hundred copies to make an edit.

Neverheardofpryomaniacs-PerCreative Commons is still the best way to show everyone your copyright [or in this case, copyleft]. I have been using this one for years and it might no longer be the best but at least it says what i want it to say - and people who want to appropriate my stuff do not have to email me. As for images, the original match that i stole. . . appropriated and edited for this post is found on one of the sites Phil Johnson blogs on called Pyromanics. Such an edit removes copyright, [edit - Phil adds clarification to this in the comments below - not as simple as i just said] as Phil once said when he gave some good advice on image editing. Thanks Phil!

Neverheardofpryomaniacs-PhoDon't put other people's phone numbers on your blog. This is taken as an invitation to harrass them. Don't even put their email address on your blog, unless they ask. In which case write it in code [name at hotmail dot com] so the spambots miss it.

Hope that helps a little. We should expect some banter and opposition. Hopefully it wont get our of hand and we will learn to live with each other online. If someone offends you or abuses your rights, go to them in a friendly manner and get it sorted. If they wont listen, add one or two others to the CC on your email. Only then do you start BCC'ing some authority figures. And if you are part of Jesus' family then don't take your brothers or sisters to court. That not the family way.

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