Last month, I completed a course on Poynter: News University, entitled “Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Publishers.” In the course, I learned a lot about the lay of the land when it comes to blogging, and what is considered legal and illegal. Much of the information had to do with defamation, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement. Defamation is “injury to reputation caused by the publication of falsehoods,” and there are two different kinds: Libel (written) and slander (spoken). I also learned that publishing information about someone, albeit accurate information, can be considered illegal depending on whether or not the information is private or public. I also gained insights on copyright infringement and what lengths certain publishers go to in order to have their work protected. More importantly, I learned how all of these laws affect me as a writer and blogger.
A particularly interesting portion of this course to me was the section on defamation. Particularly, the statement that in a defamation case the plaintiff can be “libel-proof,” in other words, he or she can “have a reputation so tarnished that it [can’t] be brought any lower, even by the publication of false statements of fact.” It made me think about what kind of situations one would have to find themself in in order to reach this point. A point at which anyone on this earth could say whatever they want about you without bringing your reputation down at all. This is definitely not an aspiration of any public figure, but to me it seems like an interesting “accomplishment,” in the sense that it is nearly impossible to achieve.
After completing this course, I think I would like to know more about how to protect myself from not following media law for any reason. Obviously, there are certain things that we all know to avoid, but then there are others that don’t come so clearly. I would like more information on this in order to protect myself from ever accidentally breaking the law.