Blogger ordered to pay millions in libel damages
notes that a jury has awarded 11.3 million dollars against a blogger
who committed libel against an innocent woman by posting that she
was a "crook," a "con artist" and a "fraud" on an internet message
“Scheff, who bills herself as an
educational consultant, "tried to do something to help other parents
and she wound up sort of being the object of hateful and vindictive
statements," Pollack said. Scheff and her company sometimes get paid
for their referrals.
The message of the verdict "is you just
can't go out there on these blogs and slander and defame people
without having any facts to substantiate what you are stating,"
In England, nasty remarks are crimes
if they are found to be "inflammatory", as this case where a man was
3 years in prison
for posting inflammatory remarks on a web site:
"Judge Henry Globe QC, the
recorder of Liverpool, told Martin: "The intention of the
website was innocent, honourable and well motivated.
"You accessed that website and you abused its use. You posted
highly abusive, insulting and racist messages on the site."
notes that the victims of blogger-bashing are
fighting back, and sympathetic juries are awarding large sums
against blog libelers:
""BLOGGERS beware" is the warning circulating cyberspace
since Oldham lecturer Tracy Williams was ordered to pay £10,000
in damages to a man she'd libelled on an internet message
The courts are now becoming aware that publishing in a blog is no
different that publishing in traditional media and that a long line
of legal precedents make authors responsible for their own words:
"She says: "People who use blogs and message boards are
publishing statements in a public forum and the same rules apply
as they would if these statements were published in a newspaper.
"If a statement is likely to provoke hatred, ridicule or
contempt, and the blogger is not able to prove that it is either
true or a fair comment based on fact, then a libel has been
In the USA, presenting a person in a false light can have extreme
damages, as this case where The Pensacola News Journal was ordered
to pay a $18.28 million jury verdict for actual harm to a
businessman by casting him in a "false light."
Florida also has
a Bill to make libel a felony:
"Sen. Gary Siplin introduced a bill recently that would
increase the penalty for criminal libel from a misdemeanor to a
felony, punishable by one to five years in prison and a $5,000
fine. The Orlando Democrat's bill (SB 2742) would also add
broadcasters to the existing law against deliberate false
Siplin's bill, which has no House companion and has not yet been
referred to a Senate committee, would also make it a felony for
anyone to knowingly submit lies to a newspaper or broadcaster
I have more notes on these important blogger libel issues here:
I also highly recommend the book
Stalkers: Protect yourself from Internet Criminals & Psychopaths,
$19.95 by Rampant TechPress.