Tuesday, June 04, 2013

My policy on "guest content": would Section 230 apply?

I sometimes get inquiries from parties who would like to provide articles for my blogs.
Generally, the best way for me to provide third party content is to do what I do, provide a direct hyperlink to an article by the third party on another site.   

There might be unusual situations, where a party cannot have his or her own site because of a conflict of interest at work, confinement, or overseas origin in an authoritarian country, perhaps undergoing tumult. 
There would occur, then, logical questions as to whether Section 230 protections would apply to me, or any blogger in such a circumstance.  The most relevant link at Electronic Frontier Foundation appears to be “Section 230 Protections”, link here.  have given similar links from EFF on protections, but I don’t think I’ve given this specific one.
The paragraph “Does Section 230 apply to bloggers?” has a comment that might apply to this situation.  If the blogger “selected” content provided from someone else and published it, it it’s unclear as to whether this information was “provided to you” or co-authored by you. 
Another scenario would be a blog or site where a number of individuals collaborate to produce content.  I have not entered into such an agreement, although I don’t rule it out in the future.  In that case, it would seem pretty clear that each regular contributor is liable for his own torts. 
On the other hand, when a blogger merely monitors comments made by others, it appears that Section 230 applies. 
The Section 230 protections aren’t limited to defamation, but also some other torts like privacy false light, right of publicity,  unfair competition, and the like.
It should be noted that, theoretically at least, bloggers who link to defamatory content might share liability, as we’ve noted before, although it seems extremely unusual in practice for liability to occur just for hyperlinks (embeds could be an interesting problem).

 Websites still could be exposed to DMCA takedown situations if they post infringing content from another contributor.  This does seem unlikely to result just from links (even from copyright trolls) or monitored comments.  

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