I’m writing this follow up to my previous post: "5 Common Misconceptions about Online Defamation," because I got such a great response from my readers. Again, I want to give proper attribution where it’s due. Check out this video for more information on online defamation.
1. "Safety in Numbers" – some believe they’re safe as long as their target is a public figure or someone who is being defamed by lots of other people. Not so. It will depend heavily on the particular circumstances.
2. "Aren’t I anonymous on the Internet?" – NO. This is probably the biggest misconception of them all. No one is truly anonymous on the internet. If you don’t believe me, check out http://ipid.shat.net/. Scary, isn’t it? The truth is, people can find you if they want to. They can employ a whole host of advanced techniques. Also, a lawyer can request a subpoena in certain circumstances to unmask your identity.
3. "I’m immune, right?" – Not necessarily. You’ve probably heard of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed by Congress in the 1990s. It was designed to protect freedom of expression on the Internet, and immunizes internet providers (in certain circumstances) from liability for their users’ content. Initially, this law was interpreted broadly. Now, courts are carving out exceptions to the law, and effectively narrowing its scope.
4. "Only U.S. law applies" – Wrong again. While the U.S. was the first to tackle internet law, it will not be the last. As more and more countries develop, they will no doubt attempt to put their own stamp on internet law. What will be especially interesting is how this applies in countries with vastly different cultures.
5. "Any lawyer will do" – You should know that most lawyers have no idea what they’re doing when it comes to the internet. Don’t assume that any defamation lawyer will do when you’re dealing with online defamation. You need a lawyer who understands how the internet works. You need a internet defamation attorney.