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Don Burleson Blog 








Time for DMCA reform

Web Tips by Donald Burleson

The web has become the wild west, with Internet publishers freely publishing damaging information about corporations and private citizens.  Under the guise of freedom of speech and the protection of the Digital Millennium Communications Act (DMCA), anonymous bloggers and chat room contributors freely publish lies and defame people.

The DMCA was designed to protect web hosting services and ISP's and not specific web publishers, bloggers or chat room participants.  In this article, a Judge Fadeley notes that offering DMCA protection to bloggers and web authors is a serious loophole in the DMCA, and that new legislation is required to make bloggers responsible for damage to people. 

"The courts must walk a fine line between a federal statute interpreted as creating immunity and the responsibility for the harm caused by libel.

Unfortunately, many innocent companies are being damaged by individuals out for profit or self-promotion. Even in instances where legitimate organizations have been seriously damaged by bloggers, it's difficult to counter unfounded attacks or to demand the actual sources, let alone seek the protections of the law."

More disturbing, studies suggest that the majority of corporate defamation is done by business rivals:

"Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty, but spewing lies, libel and invective," wrote Daniel Lyons in Forbes. Some 50 percent to 60 percent of blog attacks are now sponsored by business rivals"

This article goes on to note that the courts are recognizing blogs and chat rooms as legitimate publishing, and they should not be protected by the DMCA, simply because of their choice for publishing media:

"Journalists are held to account for what they say, whether or not they are quoting someone else. Unfortunately, the law has yet to create reasonable standards for the Internet and allows anyone to quote any source, with almost no liability for what they say.

The impact on innocent parties can be severe -- some companies have lost millions in stock value from an irate individual speaking anonymously as an expert on a blog soapbox, making statements intended to be read as fact, although they may be nothing more than the venom generated by a personal and perhaps unjustified grievance."

See my related notes on internet publishing:

I also highly recommend the book Web Stalkers: Protect yourself from Internet Criminals & Psychopaths, $19.95 by Rampant TechPress. 



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