BC Supreme Court Okays Class Action Suit Against Facebook

facebook eyeThe BC Supreme Court  has given the go ahead today to a class action suit against Facebook. The BC class action lawsuit covers the period from January 1, 2011 to today. Unless they opt out of the lawsuit, anyone covered by the criteria is included in the class action. Continue reading

CDA 230 Success Cases: WordPress.com

One of the largest hosts of third-party speech is the site WordPress.com. With over 38 million sites all over the world, the site has empowered users to speak their minds and comment on each other’s creative content.

We spoke with Paul Sieminski, General Counsel of Automattic, the owner of WordPress.com, about the importance of CDA 230 on free speech online.

via CDA 230 Success Cases: WordPress.com

What the EFF has to say about FISA

Today is an incredibly important vote for the future of your digital privacy, but some in Congress are hoping you won’t find out.

Finally, after weeks of delay, the Senate will start debate on the dangerous FISA Amendments Act at 10 am Eastern and vote on its re-authorization by the end of the day. The FISA Amendments Act is the broad domestic spying bill passed in 2008 in the wake of the warrantless wiretapping scandal. It expires at the end of the year and some in Congress wanted to re-authorize it without a minute of debate.

via Why We Should All Care About Today’s Senate Vote on the FISA Amendments Act, the Warrantless Domestic Spying Bill

First SOPA and PIPA now ACTA

ACTA“Few people have heard of ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, but the provisions in the agreement appear quite similar to – and more expansive than – anything we saw in SOPA. Worse, the agreement spans virtually all of the countries in the developed world, including all of the EU, the United States, Switzerland and Japan.” —  If You Thought SOPA Was Bad, Just Wait Until You Meet ACTA – Forbes. Continue reading

Spotting a splog

Spam blogs, sometimes referred to by the neologism splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed.  Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either inauthentic text or merely stolen from from the RSS feeds of other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites.  Source: Wikipedia

  • Steals blog content with no notice to the original authors or accreditation.
  • Fails to provide a means of contacting the site owner (often the contact and about pages are broken links).

In her article How to spot a splog Lorelle says:

“Splogs, spamming blogs, are often little more than link farms, a bunch of text stuffed with links to whatever they are selling. The easiest way to identify a splog is when nothing adds up nor matches. The content doesn’t match the links. The content doesn’t match the blog title or post title. There is a signature or name in the article that doesn’t match with the name of the post author or submitter.”


Angela Swanlund is a new blogger friend of mine.  She’s been a full time professional freelance writer for 2 years, and part time for over 7. She’s an Author for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, History and Culture and is currently retained on contract to research the 1946 unsolved “Moonlight Murders” that took place in Texarkana, Arkansas. True crime is her normal genre, and she has covered such notorious individuals as Ronald Gene Simmons and the West Memphis Three.  On occasion she  does freelance work for area newspapers such as the Ozarks Farm and Neighbor, a 3 state regional farming publication. She also owns I also own Rural Family Living, LLC, a small retail sales business.

Angela and her co-author Patti Ann Stafford, the Editor of The Music Rocks!,  have an emerging blog. Angela recently had blog content stolen and she has shared some splog spotting tips that I’d like to pass on to you. Source



How to copyright your digital works

stick'em up

Copyright Law: 12 Dos and Don’ts – Click the title link and find 12 Do’s and Dont’s that will clarify what you can and what you can not do as an online publisher.

As the blogging phenomenon expands, copyright concerns become quite important. Technology makes it really easy to copy, modify and share information, whether we talk about text, images, audio or video. The problem is that the vast majority of people do not have a clear understanding of the Copyright Law, which might result in illegal and costly mistakes.


Creative Commons licenses provide a flexible range of protections and freedoms for authors, artists, and educators.

Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. Creative Commons defines the spectrum of possibilities between full copyright — all rights reserved — and the public domain — no rights reserved.

cc spectrum

cc spectrum

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related posts found in this blog:
Content theft: The come and get it solution
Splog Off! Dealing with content theft
SplogSpot: Dealing with content thieves
Copyright: Fair Use Limitations
What is copyright?

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Content theft: The come and get it solution

Although I do not get paid to blog, I take my blogging very seriously. I invest time and energy into researching and writing my posts. I have a strong sense of ownership of my words and that means I’m “attached” to what I write. I know that it is my attachments and aversions that prevent me from becoming a more open minded and generous person.  And, I’m constantly working at breaking away from and letting go of the attachments and aversions that lead to the creation of negative emotions.

I have just read A Radical Solution to Blog Content Piracy and I’m mulling over what I read.  Below is an excerpt but please click through to read the whole post.

Two big blogs, maybe more, have adopted a radical approach to copyright. You are absolutely free to copy, paste, steal, modify, and otherwise manipulate whatever you find at the wildly popular Zen Habits and The Simple Dollar. The content on both blogs is public domain.

come & get it

come & get it

This decision by  two notable bloggers, who have decided to “give it all away”,  is one that is a 360 degree turn about from my current policy posted on my Copyright & Disclaimer page which states:

“All content in this blog created by the blog owner is the property of the blog owner and protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and cannot be stored on any retrieval system, reproduced, reposted, displayed, modified or transmitted in any form, electronic or otherwise without written permission of the copyright owner except as noted below.

A brief excerpt of content (up to 50 words) may be quoted as long as a link is provided back to the source page on this blog.”

Part of that consideration is that my policy reflects how I treat the writing of other bloggers. If I were to change my policy how would I view those who do maintain the position that I currently take?

Conclusion: I’m not ready to change my policy at this time but I do want to know what my readers think.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you get paid to blog?
  2. What is your current copyright policy?
  3. Would you consider introducing a come and get it policy?

Related posts found in this blog:
Splog Off! Dealing with content theft
SplogSpot: Dealing with content thieves
Copyright: Fair Use Limitations
What to do about copyright
What is copyright?

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SplogSpot: Dealing with content thieves

The only time a complete post can be legally re-published is when prior written permission has been received from the copyright holder. In other words, the same rules that apply to the world of print also apply in cyberspace. Perhaps the most annoying thing about being a blogger is having to deal with the parasites who steal copyrighted material and post it on splogs that they pimp out for advertising income.

I previously published Splog Off! Dealing with content theft that lays out the steps to take to lodge a DMCA complaint but now there’s something new.

What is SplogSpot?
SplogSpot is service that keeps track of spam blogs or Splogs. The splogspot spam database can be queried by anyone using the SplogSpot API. This will help blog related services, directories etc keep their sites clean.

How does it work?
SplogSpot has automated software that can detect spam blogs. SplogSpot also accepts manual splog submissions, that are first reviewed and then added to the database.

How to participate?
When ever you come across a Splog (spam blog), you can report it to SplogSpot.

How it helps?
Maintaining a database of spam blogs will help us to avoid splogs whenever possible. Also, on request, the splogspot spam database will be made available to any good willed person or project :) And the most important of all, you can use the SplogSpot API to determine the genuinty of a blog, when handling blogs in your custom built application or anything like that. SplogSpot also provides a full dump of the Splog database (weekly).

Several posts that I would like to recommend:
Five Media Hosts for Media Offloading
Are Creative Commons Licenses Confusing?
Protecting Content by Using Static Pages
Limitations of Fair Use

How to Become a Better Blogger 3: Ethics and Links

women_blogger1 The Better Blogger focuses on what his or her readers needs to know and avoids saying more about the subject than they have to. It’s important to provide background but where less important information can be left out that’s the better way to go.

Brevity is an important goal in online writing. Longer posts can be intimidating. Many visitors will only scan long posts at best. The theory is that online readers have relatively short attention spans. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general I think it is good advice to think small. Keep it simple and clear. And when it comes to editing: when it doubt, cut it out. — Robert Stevenson in An Exercise in Brevity

Guidelines for Ethical Blogging

Over the years four basic guidelines for ethical blogging have been recognized.

(1) Be well informed about your subject

Blogging is, by definition, a self-directed process. There are usually no deadlines, other than those you assign yourself and  no one telling you what to do. You are on your own and free to write off the top of your head about  matters that are well known to you.

However,  it’s also important to recognize that bloggers have an obligation to themselves and to their readers to explore and research topics as fully as possible prior to writing and publishing.

  • Investigate the background;
  • Get the whole story;
  • Learn about both sides of the issue;
  • Seek out competing points of view;
  • Read what the experts have to say;
  • Get the facts straight.

As a professional writer and blogger, it’s important to keep a stash of resources and links to save time. Every blogger has their own unique list of resources and sources they call upon. These are just a few of mine. — Lorelle Van Fossen in Blogging Resources and Sources to Help you Blog

(2) Be honest

Beware of  the temptation to distort truth for your own purposes. Responsible bloggers comprehend  copyright and fair use limitations and what to do about copyright. They do not falsify facts, do not present a few facts as the whole story, do not present tentative findings as firm conclusions.  They do not plagarize and or present the ideas of others as their own.


(3) Use sound evidence

You need evidence to explain and support your ideas. When using evidence, be sure not to take quotations out of context, not to juggle numbers or statistics, and not to present unusual cases as representative examples. Use sources of information that are objective and qualified and link to them appropriately.

Links to your sources are important for at least four reasons: Verifiability, Acknowledgment, Examples, Context. 

1. Verifiability. Links to your sources allow me to verify whether or not your story is true. For this to work, though, they should point to hard news sources, not just another blog.

2. Acknowledgment. Sources permit you to acknowledge where you got your ideas and information from in the first place. These can include not only hard news sources, but also any blog or other source that sparked you to think about the topic. If the information is not generally known, though, include additional sources to satisfy the verifiability requirement. I sometimes handle acknowledgments with a hat tip.

3. Examples. Sources can help provide you with the kinds of examples you need to support your arguments. Since the internet is a hypertext environment, sources can also help you to pack more information into a post without providing loads of background details.

4. Context. Sources help locate your ideas within their broader context. By providing links to that context, you help your reader to understand how your ideas relate to other opinions and discussions on the internet, and on your own blog. In the process you provide additional value to your reader, giving her one more reason to return.

Mark Stoneman in Do You Link to Your Sources?

Take the time to examine and carefully select anchor text when you link. Search engines are designed to provide highly relevant search results and this is where properly selected anchor text comes into play. Anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in search engine algorithms, because the linked text is usually relevant to the landing page. Use appropriate key words (search terms) as anchor text.

Anchor text can be used in:

  • Links on your home or main page – *important spot*
  • External links – links from other sites
  • Internal links – links on your pages
  • Navigation maps


(4) Employ valid reasoning

Avoid such fallacies as making hasty generalizations, asserting causal connections where none exist, using invalid analogies, and pandering to passion or prejudice.

A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply “arguments” which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true. — Dr. Michael C. Labossiere in Fallacies

Photo credits
Related posts found in this blog:
How to Become a Better Blogger 1 Introduction
How to Become a Better Blogger 2: Online Privacy
Deep link posts: Bring your readers back again and again

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Bloggers Unite for Human Rights: Free Tibet

bloggersunitebadgeThe reporter, Jamyang Kyi, 42, an announcer at the state-run television station in Qinghai, a western province bordering Tibet, was escorted from her office on April 1 by plainclothes police officers in the city of Xining, according to colleagues and friends. The authorities also confiscated her computer and a list of contacts, they said.

Xining lies in an area with ethnic Tibetan populations and has seen anti-China protests and unrest since demonstrations broke out March 10 in Lhasa on the 49th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

Jamyang Kyi is well-known as a performer of pop and traditional songs and for her blog. She is a respected intellectual and blogger who has written about women’s rights and the trafficking of girls. She has travelled extensively, including a 2006 trip to the United States to perform and lecture.

Continue reading

WordPress: Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

bloggersunitebadgeBlogCatalog.com partners with Amnesty International for Bloggers Unite For Human Rights
BlogCatalog.com, the fastest-growing social network for bloggers on the Internet, is partnering with Amnesty International, a worldwide movement that campaigns for internationally recognized human rights, to expand a global social awareness campaign for human rights by launching a major initiative on May 15.

Bloggers Unite For Human Rights, which asks bloggers from all over the world to post about human rights on the same day, May 15. Collectively, the posts will reach millions of people all over the world at the same time, even in those countries where freedom of expression is regularly suppressed.

Amnesty International is thrilled to be a part of Bloggers Unite for Human Rights,” said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Bloggers Unite for Human Rights is a great way to harness the power of the Internet to fight injustice and make the world a better place.

I have previously posted about how to become involved in the campaign. On May 15th 2008, join us and blog about Human Rights. There are dozens and dozens of human rights issues that you can write about and many can be found in my previous post.

globe-in-handBlogging is HUGE
Technorati tracks nearly 70 million blogs on a daily basis and 120, 000 blogs are being created every day. Wikipedia recently reached a milestone of 10 million entries, surpassing the 42,000 of its online competitor, Encarta. All this writing and posting online is not only about creative expression it’s also about money, for example in 2006, the total revenue for the top 50,000 blogs was US$500 million (RM1.59 billion).

China with 42 million bloggers has the largest blogging community in the world, recently surpassing the United States as the country with the most Internet users. According to BDA the United States hosts 216 million internet users but, China had more than 220 million people on the internet as of February 2008 and that number soared to 233 million in March.

The India Internet usage study reported in 2006 that more than 25 per cent of India’s 38 million internet users are active bloggers.

Continue reading

Splog Off! Dealing with content theft

Splogs, are artificially created weblog sites which the author uses to promote affiliated websites or to increase the search engine rankings of associated sites. The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed.

splogoffimageSpam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either inauthentic text or merely stolen from other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites (*bad neighborhood checker).

Lorelle has covered the process for taking action when your blog content is stolen by a blog scraping splogger in her post. The walk through for a DMCA complaint has been provided below as well as some blogging tips.

DMCA Complaint Process

Updated reference: March 3, 2010 DMCA Takedown 101

The next time you see that someone has been stealing your content, try to follow these steps:

(1) Determine if they have taken an entire post or if it’s an excerpt that then links back to you.

(2) If it is an excerpt with a link, don’t worry about it and ignore it, even if the excerpt contains inaccuracies. It would probably be considered “fair use”, and you would be wasting your time trying to stop it. Think of it as advertising for your blog.

(3) If it is an entire post, find out the contact information for the site by using this  whois link

  • In the section entitled “Find Out Who Owns a Domain Name”, enter the domain name
  • Click “Search WHOIS”
  • The contact information should appear under “Registrant”
  • If there is no contact information, scroll further down the page to the IP address, and click on it
  • A new window will open, and information about the host of the IP address will be listed

(4) Send a DMCA notice to the domain registrant and the host. A sample follows, just replace the bracketed information with the correct corresponding info.



To Whom It May Concern:

I believe my original work, found here [URL OF YOUR POST] has been infringed upon by this website [URL OF THE SCRAPER’S POST].

The entirety of my webpage referenced above has been reproduced in violation of the Copyright Berne Convention, [INCLUDE THIS NEXT PART ONLY IF TRUE] and a clear notice of Copyright Protection is included in the sidebar of each of my webpages.

Please get in touch with me at your earliest convenience at [YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS] to inform me of any actions you have taken on this matter.

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the infringing web pages is not authorized by my registered copyright and by the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner of an exclusive right that is infringed.


Blogging tips:
(1) Report the splog to Google adsense
The motivation behind these content thefts can be summarized in one word – greed. No one blogging for money wants to be placed in bad standing with Google. And some bloggers discovered that making the DMCA complaint and also reporting the site to Google adsense has been extremely effective.

After making the DMCA complaint if one simply clicks the crap out of every Google adsense ad on the splogger site this will bring the site to Google’s attention. Next if one locates and clicks the report button on any Google adsense ad and then provides all the same copy and paste DMCA complaint information (see above) to Google they will act. Following up the DMCA complaint with the complaint to Google adsense appears to be the best way of making it difficult for the the splogger to start up on the same site again or, to start another splog site.

(2) Set blog feeds to summary and reduce the number of posts you make available
Many bloggers report that their posts are stolen withing seconds of being published. It’s blog feeds that make your posts “easy pickings” for content thieves. Bloggers have the choice of providing setting the number of posts to make available on feeds. They also have the choice of setting feeds posts to summary rather than “full”. In addition, hey can choose which text will be displayed in the excerpt.

Lastly, they can insert the following : “If you are not reading this at (enter your URL here), then you are reading stolen content. The owner of the site you are on has stolen this article and is making money by you reading it. If this article interests you, please go to (enter your url as a live link) to read it on its original site and do not return to this one. Thank you.”

(3) Plugins for self-hosting wordpress bloggers
previously published a post on this subject that you can consult. If you are a self-hosting blogger you will find the links in the post to three useful plugins that you can install in that post.

(4) For clarity post a copyright notice
Copyright notices are not required for works to be protected by copyright. Although posting a copyright notice is not required, having one posted will clarify your position with regard to exercising copyright if you do make a DMCA complaint. If you click this link to my previous post you will find information of three different kinds of copyright notices that you can use. Some bloggers seem to be unclear about Creative Commons copyright licenses so do be cautious when it comes to selecting the correct one for your purposes.

N.B. This is my disclaimer and copyright notice.

Happy blogging!

Several posts that I would like to recommend:
Five Media Hosts for Media Offloading
Are Creative Commons Licenses Confusing?
MyFreeCopyright: Free Copyright Verification
Protecting Content by Using Static Pages
Limitations of Fair Use

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Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Bloggers Unite

Bloggers Unite is an initiative designed to harness the power of the blogosphere to make the world a better place. By challenging bloggers to blog about a particular social cause on a single day, a single voice can be joined with thousands of others to help make a real positive difference; from raising awareness for cancer, to an effort to better education systems or support 3rd world countries.

bcunitesmbuttonMay marks the first anniversary of Bloggers Unite and BlogCatalog members are launching an awareness campaign chosen by . On May 15, we will unite for human rights and make a statement that all people are born with basic rights and freedoms – life, liberty, and justice!
Continue reading

Copyright: Fair Use Limitations

Jonathan Bailey of the Blog Herald writes:

“When it comes to matters of copyright, many bloggers are simply asking for trouble and don’t realize that they are doing so. They take images and put them in their entries without a thought to where they got them, they take articles, in whole or large part, without a thought to who wrote wrote it and tell themselves that their copying of the content is protected by fair use. … This causes many bloggers, especially new ones, to put themselves in risk that they never would have otherwise.
Read the full article at this link.

See also: How much is that doggie on the sofa?

Related posts:
What to do about copyright
What is Copyright?

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Northern Voices Blogging Conference

In 2005, the organizers of Canada’s first weblogging conference put on an event that was inexpensive, informal, and accessible to techies and newbies alike. From those humble beginnings Northern Voice has been transformed into… well, actually it’s still cheap, friendly and open to all.Northern Voice is a two-day, non-profit personal blogging and social media conference that’s being held at the Forestry Sciences Centre, 2424 Main Mall, UBC main campus, Vancouver, Canada on February 22-23, 2008. This is the 4th annual incarnation of this event, see the 2005, 2006 and 2007 websites for previous information.


    Northern Voices 2008 Keynote Speaker,
    Matt Mullenweg of WordPress

    NV08 in a nutshell:
    • 21Feb (Thu) – Opening party in the evening at the Waldorf
    • 22Feb (Fri) – MooseCamp, an “unconference” including Internet BootCamp for beginners. You are encouraged to lead or participate in spontaneous sessions and go to the sessions that make sense for you
    • 23Feb (Sat) – “Traditional” conference covering all aspects of social media including blogging, videoblogging, etc.
    • Topics, speakers and discussion leaders
    • You can read more and register

    Hat tip to raincoaster

    Libel: Blogging Rights and Wrongs

    Updated July 6, 2009

    Legal Rights and Responsibilities

    While freedom of speech is our right, it’s essential that we recognize that with rights come responsibilities. Our freedom of speech is limited by the law in accord with the responsibilities that we have towards one another as determined by American case law and as required by American legislation.

    Both the common law and legislation protect every person from harm to their reputation arising from false and derogatory remarks being made about their person (defamation). And, both slander (verbal form) and libel (printed form) are included in the definition of defamation.

    Pseudonyms offer no safety

    Bloggers please be aware that writing on your own blog, on any other blog and on any online forum (or anywhere else) under a pseudonym does not offer you or the web site administrator any protection from a lawsuit for libel.

    Example 1: Blog Catalog

    Blog Catalog is an American corporation and all of their members, regardless of their country of residence, are subject to American law when it comes to posting anywhere on the site in threads in  groups, in messages in  shoutboxes, and in the General Discussion forum and Political Issues forum threads.

    I think it’s important for all of us BC members to be aware of what constitutes trolling and harassment, as well as, what the community guidelines for forum posting and the BC Terms of Service state.

    My reasoning is that if members of any online community ignore or condone the forum behavior of individual bad actors or cliques when it is in breach of community guidelines for forum posting and Terms of Service, it will slowly become acceptable, and more commonplace, simply because it’s being tolerated.

    Also, if Moderators are not made aware of the breaches of guidelines and the TOS by members reporting them, and if they are not willing to act swiftly to put an end to them, then the individual bad actors or cliques can create ill will that will have a lasting negative affect in the online community.


    Communities Online trolling and Harassment

    Blog Catalog Terms of Service (See: 8 Content/Activity Prohibited “harasses or advocates harassment of another person;”)

    Example 2: WordPress.com

    Automattic Inc. is an American corporation and all of those blogging at wordpress.com, regardless of their country of residence, are subject to American law when it comes to posting to our own blogs and others, commenting on our own blogs and others, and posting questions and answers to the wordpress.com forum and/or to the wordpress.org forum.

    See: 2. Responsibility of Contributors

    5. Responsibility of Website Visitors

    Defamation, liability: WordPress.com is an internet service provider. We are based in the US, as are all of our servers. As such we are covered by section 230(c) of the US Communications Decency Act which states that internet service providers are not held liable for content (such as allegedly defamatory, offensive, inaccurate, or harassing content) that is posted on the sites they host for their users. We host millions of web sites for our users and are not able to control or police the hundreds of thousands of blog posts our users create every day. However, if you have a complaint about one of our blogs, please follow our complaints procedure.


    Although evidence of repetition to others is required to prove slander, such proof is not required in libel, the damage is presumed as it is published: thus, ‘whatever a man publishes, he publishes at his peril’.

    While it’s true that we are all entitled to make ‘fair comment on any issue of public interest’, the legal rule of thumb is:  ‘fair comment’ must reflect an honestly held opinion based upon proven fact and must not be motivated by malice’.

    Accordingly, any author may only go as far as to presume and publish motives on the part of a person whose actions he or she is criticizing, provided that the motives presumed are based on proven fact and are reasonable, given the circumstances and that the issue is an issue of public interest.

    Reach for your wallet

    Freedom, truth and justice are there for those who live up to their responsibilities.

    If you are  sued for defamation, it can cost you a lot of money and years of your life to prove you were not guilty. Even if you are successful, the lion’s share of any legal award you may get from the court will go to pay for the legal expenses required to defend yourself in court. So be smart.

    Some take it or leave it advice for bloggers

    • Speak in the first person singular whenever possible. State “It’s my opinion that” or “I believe that” or “Correct me if I’m wrong but I think” and always take the cautious polite approach when complaining about anyone or anything.
    • Do not comment at all on issues that are of a personal nature. Limit your commentary to only issues of public interest.
    • If you are angered or hurt by what another blogger has posted then wait for a full 48 hours before you post. Then, prior to posting your reply, write a draft and check your wording out at least three times to be sure there is no malicious intent (determination to hurt another person) contained in it.
    • Never ever state that something is fact unless you can absolutely prove it to be true, far beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt.
    • Never ever rely on hearsay. If you weren’t there and you did not see or hear what happened then don’t put your own neck (and the site administrator’s neck) out on the chopping block.

    Some take it or leave it forum advice for TPTB

    • Hire the staff needed to moderate the people using your software.
    • Develop clearly-stated forum rules, including a zero tolerance policy for personal attacks.
    • Follow through by banning and blocking members who disobey the rules.


    US Constitution and its First Amendment

    NY Times vs. Sullivan

    Bloggers Beware: You’re About to Commit Libel

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an organization dedicated to protecting freedom of speech on the Internet.

    100 Essential Legal and Privacy Guides for Bloggers

    A list of FAQ & A’s about defamation maintained by the legal departments of Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, University of San Francisco among others.

    The Open Net Initiative (ONI) is a collaboration between the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, the Advanced Network Research Group at the Cambridge Security Programme, University of Cambridge, and the Oxford Internet Institute, at Oxford University which aims to investigate, expose, and analyze Internet filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion.

    Thanks for reading this blog post. I hope you found the information useful. I apologize for the preachy tone.

    What is copyright?

    Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Copyright law protects original works, such as websites, books, music, paintings, photos and video.

    An original work
    A work is “original” if it contains some elements you created and did not borrow from others. Typically, when you create an original work, you own the copyright. As the copyright owner, you can control how others use your work. For example, if you write a movie script, you have the right to, and can prevent others from, copying your script, sharing it with others (“distributing it”), making a movie or book from your script (a “derivative work”), or publicly performing your script as a play or movie. You also have the ability to sell or give away these rights. In other words, you could sell the right to make a movie based on your script to a movie studio.

    If you use someone else’s copyrighted materials without permission, that use generally violates the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, and is copyright infringement. So if you create a new work and include parts of other people’s works in it (such as an existing photo, lengthy quotes from a book or a loop from a song), you must own or have permission to use the elements you borrow. For example, if your script is based on an existing popular series, you should obtain permission to use the elements you borrow from the series.

    Copyright law is different from the law of personal property. If you buy a physical object, such as a movie on DVD, you own the physical object. You do not, however, obtain ownership of the “copyrights” (the rights to make copies, distribute, make derivatives and publicly perform or display) in the content of the movie. The fact that you have obtained physical possession of a DVD does not automatically grant you the right to copy or share it.

    If you make your own movie, it may include many copyrighted works in it. So, if you decide to make a movie based on your script, you must either create all elements of it on your own, or have permission to use the elements you borrow. Especially keep in mind that photos or artwork hanging on the walls of your sets and music on the soundtrack (even if you own the CD or MP3) may be copyrighted. You should not include copyrighted works such as these in your movie without authorization.

    A few other things to keep in mind are:

    Just because a work does not include a copyright notice (e.g., © 2007 Suchandsuch Corporation) does not mean the work is in the public domain. Copyright notices are generally not required for works to be protected by copyright.

    Just because a work is easily available on the internet or elsewhere does not mean you may use the work freely. Look for terms of use, such as Creative Commons , that explain how works you find on the Internet may be used.

    Isn’t it in the public domain?
    Just because a work is freely available, does not mean it is in the “ public domain .” Copyright is for a limited term; it does not last forever. In the copyright context, “public domain” means the copyright term has expired. Once a work is in the public domain, it may be freely used without permission from the copyright owner.

    Determining the term of copyright can be complex, particularly because copyright laws vary from country to country. Also, even if the copyright on a work has expired, you should be careful about how you use a public domain work. For example, a book may be in the public domain, but it might not be okay to scan the book cover to cover and post it on the internet. This is because the particular version of the book may contain new material subject to copyright that is not in the public domain, such as cover art or footnotes.

    What about fair use?
    In limited situations, you can use copyrighted works without permission from the copyright holder. It can be difficult to figure out whether use of copyrighted works without permission is legal, though, because the laws in this area are often vague and vary from country to country.

    The copyright law in the United States has a doctrine called “ fair use ”. Fair use provides a defense to copyright infringement in some circumstances. For example, fair use allows documentary filmmakers to use very short clips of copyrighted movies, music and news footage without permission from the copyright owner. Fair use is a difficult concept because determining whether something is a fair use involves weighing four factors. Unfortunately, weighing the fair use factors rarely results in a clear-cut answer.

    Rather than applying a fair use test, many other countries have specific exceptions to copyright infringement. The number and type of exceptions vary by country, but they frequently allow copyrighted materials to be used without permission from the copyright holder for activities such as nonprofit research, teaching, news reporting, or private study.

    If you incorrectly decide that something is a fair use or falls into an exception to copyright infringement, you could be held criminally and civilly liable and have to pay damages. So talk to a lawyer if you have questions regarding fair uses of copyrighted works.

    What happens if you upload copyrighted materials to a website without permission?
    By law, web hosts are required to take down videos, music, photographs or other content you upload onto a website infringes someone else’s copyright. If you believe that the web host has mistakenly taken down content you uploaded that you own or have permission to upload, notify them of that. Finally, if you upload infringing content repeatedly, a web host will terminate your account and you could face criminal and civil penalties. So please, respect other people’s copyrights.

    Creative Commons
    U.S. Copyright Office Forms
    Canadian Intellectual Property Office
    Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) (PDF – 330KB)
    Plagarism versus copyright infringement

    See also: 10 big myths about copyright explained

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