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Legal warning: defamation - Aviso legal: defamación

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:32 am    Post subject: Legal warning: defamation - Aviso legal: defamación Reply with quote

It's important to realize that even seemingly anonymous postings on the internet (such as in our forum) can lead to civil lawsuits and criminal prosecution.

You aren't really anonymous. Websites have been forced by courts to reveal the identity of writers.

Problems can begin with an online complaint about a restaurant, contractor, store, former boss, or public official.

Even if a complain is be true and it would be both honorable and in the public interest to write this complaint, you might be stepping into serious financial and legal problems. If the person or organization is offended and believes the complaint to be false and malicious, they could sue. If you eventually prove them wrong, you'll still have to spend time and money.

The kinds of messages that could become serious problems include:
  • threats of death or other harm
  • claims which damage someone's reputation (see Defamation below)
  • accusations of criminal, dishonest or immoral behavior
  • allegations of conduct that deliberately causes injury to others
  • claims that a product or service is of poor quality
  • smear campaigns

"A defamatory statement is a statement that is factual in character about an identifiable entity or living individual that, if believed, would influence the reader’s or hearer’s opinion of the entity or individual, either by reflecting badly on the person’s character, or by harming the person’s reputation or diminishing the esteem, respect, or good will that he, she or it enjoys in a relevant community."

I'm not saying that you can't write these things, but we need to be aware of possible consequences.

You can find more information here:

I've pasted the article that got me to thinking about this at the bottom.


Es importante darte cuenta de que los mensajes en el Internet (por ejemplo, en nuestro foro), incluso aparentemente los anónimos, puede dar lugar a demandas civiles y acciones penales.

No estás realmente anónimo. Algunos tribunales han obligado a algunas páginas web que revelen la identidad de los miembros.

Los problemas pueden comenzar con una queja en línea sobre un restaurante, un contratista, almacenar, ex jefe, o funcionario público.

Incluso si la queja es cierta y que sería a la vez honorable y de interés público para escribir esta queja, podría ser iniciando serios problemas financieros y legales. Si la persona u organización se siente ofendido y considera la denuncia como falsa y maliciosa, podrían demandar. Si finalmente demuestras que el ofendido está equivocado, todavía tendrás que gastar tiempo y dinero.

Los tipos de mensajes que podrían convertirse en problemas serios incluyen:
  • amenazas de muerte o daños
  • afirmaciones que dañan la reputación de alguien (ver a continuación Difamación)
  • Acusaciones de conducta criminal, deshonesta o inmoral
  • denuncias de conductas que deliberadamente causan un perjuicio a los demás
  • afirmaciones que un producto o servicio es de mala calidad
  • campañas difamatorias

"Una declaración difamatoria es una declaración que es de carácter de datos concretos o hechos sobre una entidad determinada o un individuo vivo que, si se cree, influiría la opinión del lector o del oyente sobre la entidad o individuo, ya sea por refleja mal en el carácter de la persona, o por perjudicar al reputación de la persona, o por la disminución de la estima, el respeto, o la buena voluntad de que él o ella le goza en una comunidad pertinente".

No estoy diciendo que no se puede escribir estas cosas, pero tenemos que ser conscientes de las consecuencias posibles.

Puede encontrar más información aquí:

He pegado el artículo que me puse a pensar acerca de esto aquí.

David Savage wrote:

Blogger beware: Postings Draw Suits
David G. Savage
Tribune Washington Bureau

Online anonymity can vanish in litigation over Internet remarks
The Internet has allowed tens of millions of Americans to be published writers. But it also has led to a surge in lawsuits from those who say they were hurt, defamed or threatened by what they read, according to groups that track media lawsuits.

“It was probably inevitable, but we have seen a steady growth in litigation over content on the Internet,” said Sandra Baron, executive director of the Media Law Resource Center in New York.

While bloggers may have a free-speech right to say what they want online, courts have found that they are not protected from being sued for their comments, even if they are posted anonymously.

Some postings have even led to criminal charges. Hal Turner, a right-wing blogger from New Jersey, faces up to 10 years in prison for posting a comment that three Chicago judges “deserve to be killed” for having rejected a Second Amendment challenge to the city’s handgun ban in 2009.

Turner, who also ran his own Web-based radio show, thought this “was political trash talk,” his lawyer said. But earlier this month a jury in Brooklyn convicted him of threatening the lives of the judges on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In western Pennsylvania, a judge recently ruled that a community Web site must identify Internet addresses of people who posted comments calling a township official a “jerk” who put money from the taxpayers in “his pocket.” The official also owned a used-car dealership, and one commenter called his cars “junk.” He sued for defamation, saying the comments were false and damaged his reputation.

In April, a North Carolina county official won a similar ruling after some anonymous bloggers called him a slumlord.

“Most people have no idea of the liability they face when they publish something online,” said Eric Goldman, who teaches Internet law at Santa Clara University in California. “A whole new generation can publish now, but they don’t understand the legal dangers they could face. People are
shocked to learn they can be sued for posting something that says, ‘My dentist stinks.’ ” Under federal law, Web sites generally are not liable for comments posted by outsiders. They can, however, be forced to reveal the poster’s identity if the post includes false facts.

Calling someone a “jerk” and a “buffoon” may be safe from a lawsuit because it states an opinion. Saying he wrongly “pocketed” public money could lead to a defamation claim because it states a fact.

The Supreme Court has said that the First Amendment’s protection for the freedom of speech includes the right to publish anonymous pamphlets. But recently, judges have been saying that online speakers do not always have a right to remain anonymous.

Last month the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Nevada judge’s order requiring the disclosure of the identity of three people accused of conducting an
“Internet smear campaign via anonymous postings” against Quixtar, a brand used by direct-sales giant Amway.

“The right to speak, whether anonymously or otherwise, is not unlimited,” wrote Judge M. Margaret McKeown.

Quixtar had sued, contending the postings were damaging to its business. The judge who first ordered the disclosure said the Internet has “great potential for irresponsible, malicious and harmful communication.” Media law experts say suits over Internet postings are hard to track because many arise from local disputes. They rarely result in large verdicts or lengthy appeals.

Goldman, the Santa Clara professor, describes these cases as the “thin-skinned plaintiff versus the griper.” They begin with someone who goes online to complain, perhaps about a restaurant, a contractor, a store, a former boss or a public official.

Sometimes one person’s complaint prompts others to vent.
“There’s a false sense of safety on the Internet,” said Kimberley Isbell, a lawyer for the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard. “If you think you can be anonymous, you may not exercise the same judgment” before posting, she said.

Not surprisingly, the target of the online complaints may think he or she has no choice but to take legal action if the comments are false and malicious.

“These can be life-changing lawsuits.

They can go on for years and cost enormous amounts in legal fees,” Goldman said.

He is particularly concerned about what teenagers post online. “Teenagers do what you might expect. They say things they shouldn’t say. They do stupid things,” he said. “We don’t have a legal standard for defamation that excuses kids.” Media law experts say bloggers and e-mailers need to think twice before sending a message.

“The first thing people need to realize (is) they can be held accountable for what they say online,” Baron said. “Before you speak ill of anyone online, you should think hard before pressing the ‘send’ button.”
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