Legal tips for bloggers: Audio advice from experts

From the BlogHer Conference '05 archive

  • Do you own the comments people leave on your blog?
  • Will Creative Commons work for your online novel?
  • What if you get a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer?

If you've ever wondered about your legal rights as a blogger--or even what you can get away with--help is at hand. Meet Wendy Seltzer, Special Projects Coordinator with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Lauren Gelman, Associate Director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. As a teaser to their BlogHer Con session July 30 with moderator Jennifer Collins, I recorded conversations with both attorneys about their recent work against legal attempts to silence bloggers.

If you click on their names below, you'll hear their answers to the long list of questions I asked them (see the extended post). You're next -- I invite you to add your questions below for their conversation on July 30. Seltzer helped write the EFF's new Legal Guide for Bloggers and Gelman wrote the bloggers' amicus brief in Apple v. Does -- they are, in other words, at the epicenter of ongoing legal efforts to protect First Amendment rights for U.S. bloggers...

Wendy_seltzer_1Wendy Seltzer (MP3)

Sample quote: "Being aware of your rights doesn't mean you won't face a lawyer letter but it means that you can know when you might want to stand up to that lawyer letter. When you might want to call EFF and see if some pro bono counsel will be willing to help you stand up to these threats and resist the chill if what you're doing is ultimately lawful."

    Lauren_gelman_3 Lauren Gelman (MP3)

    Sample quote: " I think anonymous sources are extremely important and it's going to be a big question that's going to evolve over the next year, even beyond this particular case, as to how they're going to be treated. Not just by mainstream pubs but also by the independent journalist who's taking advantage of blog technology to be able to publish to the same audience that all other sorts of mainstream publications have."

    Questions answered by Wendy Seltzer, in the order discussed:

    • What's the Electronic Frontier Foundation?
    • Can you tell us about the EFF's new Legal Guide to Blogging?
    • What are bloggers' rights with regard to user comments on blogs?
    • Can you help those of us who aren't attorneys distinguish between traditional copyright and Creative Commons?
    • Do you think the Creative Commons license will be forced to evolve in any way as business models online evolve?
    • Can you put Section 230 protections into laywoman's terms and describe why they're helpful to bloggers?
    • You have a great FAQ on how first amendment rights traditionally exercised by journalists apply to bloggers, too. Why?
    • Some bloggers are afraid of being Kottke'd. Do you have any advice to offer bloggers about any chilling effects they might be feeling as a result of high-profile litigation?
    • Why do you call these two examples of legal intimidation techniques "very silly"? (1) Microsoft telling Engadget that screenshots of an unreleased product represented a misappropriation of trade secrets and (2) A cease-and-desist order sent to Blogger Joi Ito, claiming that his criticism of their service represented defamation.
    • List of EFF litigation, reference sites and issues addressed

    Questions answered by Lauren Gelman, in the order discussed:

    • What do you do as Associate Director for Stanford's Center for Internet and Society?
    • What is Apple v. Does and why should bloggers care?
    • All writers are under attack--Can you tell us about the recent Santa Clara County ruling that leapfrogged the issue of Bloggers v. Journalists?
    • When will we have an answer in Apple v. Does that will help bloggers covering issues like technology and Homeland Security?
    • What kinds of things does the average blogger need to think about WRT anonymous sources, yes, but other things like copyright and guidelines?
    • What are your guideline for "fair use" of text, photographs, video and audio clips?
    • What is the role of advertising and the difference between a "teaser" to and a duplication of copyrighted content
    • Is there a time limit you recommend for audio and video clips?
    • Could you tell us more about your work with Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Security Authority's (TSA) Secure Flight Privacy/IT Working Group and the future of  personal privacy for travelers?
    • Is there any legislation pending right now that references the work you've done on this committee?