The Internet is the most powerful tool for reaching millions, and therefore, every online article, photo, video, blog or just a comment are matters of possible legal liability.
How to avoid multi-million dollar verdicts or any kind of penalties that you have to pay for?
There are different kinds of legal risks for online posting, but majority of them are just small risks. However, by applying just several rules in what and how to post online you can become more cautions online news producer and publisher.
- Gathering information and not only publishing is a matter of legal liability. Therefore, pay attention on where you gather information and different public vs. private property accesses. Never just assume that you may enter legally to all of the public buildings and that a public display of press pass will get you anywhere! Plan ahead and ask for permission! Bear in mind that each state has some different laws and jurisdiction.
- Video making is not permitted everywhere! Even if you are allowed to carry your smart phone with camera, that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to make a video. Permission to access the venue is not the same as permission to shoot a video! Avoid using concealed cameras and microphones! Additionally, be very careful with special equipment for capturing people at private property, because you might get a good photo but you might also be sued.
- Gather information from documents and sources that are publicly available. For publishing information that has not been previously revealed to the public, ask for permission. Red flag for using and publishing any kind of intellectual property without permission, including other people’s creative work, trademarks or business information.
- Don’t publish false information! Publishing false statements that harms somebody’s reputation is huge legal NO, NO! Defamation and false light are very serious misdemeanors. Don’t think only about what you write about somebody but also about photos you post. Think carefully not to misrepresent a person by posting his or her photo to illustrate the story which is not directly connected with the image itself.
- Getting permission is the golden rule to play safe the online game of writing and posting. The best is if you get a consent or permission in writing! Getting permission is important for accessing both, private properties and some public properties. Also, you might need a permission to take a photo or video even if you have been already permitted to enter the property. Getting permission is crucial for publishing private material that has not yet been published or posted to public.
There are more or less similar rules about legal liability for what you post online all around the world. It is useful to be informed about “DOs” and “DON’Ts” before posting. And bear in mind that in the U.S. “CDA 220” rule protects the bloggers from liability for third-parties posts on their blogs or websites! Keep in mind these rules and enjoy being present online!