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Legal matters

This week’s readings were focused around the legalities behind blogging and citizen journalism. I’m very glad that Dispatches from Blogistan covered this topic. I thought that it was only logical for Stefanac to add a chapter in her book about copyright, libel and the like. It seemed the responsible thing for her to do since her book is all about starting your own blog, tips on how to make it successful and so forth. She couldn’t very well just set her readers out into the world without at least an inkling of what types of repercussions may be in store for them based on what they might write. It’s like teaching your kid how to use safety scissors, then setting them loose into the world with a pair of heavy duty shears without telling them they shouldn’t run with them. It’s plain bad parenting.

I thought that Stefanac’s chapter was a good starting point for bloggers who are serious about becoming citizen journalists. Her chapter, along with the two chapters in We the Media, helped reassure me a bit about the woes this class has put me through about my chosen major. It was nice to read about some things that I’d already learned about that the “average” person wouldn’t necessarily know about.

I think that my Mass Media Law professor Don Pember would be proud to see that out of all the classes I’ve taken in relation to my chosen profession, his is the one that has yet to be undermined by the explosion of blogging and citizen journalism (knock on wood).

As I’ve pondered this, I couldn’t help but wonder about the bloggers and citizen journalists who are out there and probably not aware of copyright laws and don’t know the difference between libel and slander. Their situation is a pretty unique one and I’m interested to find out what’s going to happen in the future as more and more people begin to take it upon themselves to report the world as they see it.

Questions:

1. How can bloggers and citizen journalists avoid copyright and libel suits?

2. How are some ways in which bloggers and citizen journalists can become more aware about the legal issues circling around blogging?

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