Defamation Act 2013 – in force now, advice to website operators

I have been receiving a number of requests for guidance and training about the effects of the Defamation Act 2013.

The Act introduces a number of changes, but website operators are particularly interested in the impact it could have on them and the people who provide user-generated content for their sites – their community.

The Act, and in particular, its Section 5 defence changes the way in which websites respond to defamatory posts placed there by users. Whereas before a notice and takedown procedure, based on a European Union e-commerce directive, would evade liability on the part of the website, now in some circumstances, there is a requirement to give the claimant the details of who it was who posted the libellous material. However, if the poster is easily identifiable and contactable from details on the site, it may well be the operator need do nothing as the action lies between the claimant and the poster.

This shifts responsibility for defamatory posts from the host site onto the poster, which ought to reduce liability for websites. However, if a website operator wants to use the Section 5 defence and the poster details are not readily available, they need to comply with some tight deadlines, often just 48 hours, in responding to the claimant and giving them the details of who it was who posted the defamatory content.

So you may need to hand over details of your users – members of your community – to a libel claimant. This could change the nature of your relationship with your online community, many of who may be relatively unaware of the laws of libel and other legal risks they can incur.

Some websites are beefing up their registration procedures and T&Cs to take account of these changes, as well as offering guidance to their users on the main legal problems they may encounter. Others may want to stick to their original practice of takedown on notice. Deciding which procedure you want to adopt depends on the nature of your website and the conversations that it carries.

This is where I come in.

I have been writing guidelines for a number of organisations as well as providing training for moderators and community managers in the Defamation Act 2013 and other laws relevant to their role.

If you want more information about the services I provide in this area, contact me at davidbanksmedialaw@gmail.com

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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HERE’S your round-up of coverage I’ve spotted today.

After a quiet day, unanimity breaks out with everyone going for the line about David Blunkett and transcripts of intimate voicemails.

The Guardian

Daily Mail

Hacked Off

The Independent

The Drum

Press Association (here on MSN)

That’s it for now. As ever, drop me a line if your copy is missing from here and you would like a mention, or if you’ve spotted something you think worthy of inclusion.

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Media Law Intro/Refresher, London, January 16

This course will cover Libel, Contempt of Court, reporting restrictions, copyright, privacy, social media and ethics&regulation. It will run from 10am to 4.30pm at The Space Centre, Judd Street, King’s Cross. To make an inquiry or book a place on the course, email davidbanksmedialaw@gmail.com.

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Phonehacking Trial, Day 8

Here’s the round-up for today,

Daily Express

The Guardian

The Drum

Slow day I’m afraid, much legal discussion, so not much more than that.

Will update in the morning if there’s overnight copy filed.

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Phonehacking Trial, Day 7

AFTER near unanimity on the best ‘lines’ from the first few days of the trial, today seemed to mark the first day when papers chose different angles.

Always interesting when the press do this on any story as it gives you a little insight into how they think editorially and what they think will push their readers’ buttons.

Many of them spend a large amount of money and time finding out exactly what their readers think, do and consume and if a paper is well-targeted you can tell a lot about its readership from the angles it takes on stories and the stories it chooses for page leads, and the others it drops completely.

Anyway, here’s the coverage from today, enjoy.

Daily Mail

The Independent

The Guardian

Daily Mirror

Hacked Off

The Drum

Evening Standard

Press Association (here on MSN)

Peter Jukes has been doing a great job livetweeting the trial and is now crowdsourcing funds to help him keep at it until Christmas – a very worthy cause.

That’s it for now. As ever, if you spot something superlative, give me a shout.

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Phonehacking Trial, Day 6

Week Two of the trial and stories are still coming thick and fast.

It’s still the opening of the trial, which the judge has decided can be livetweeted and @PeterJukes is doing a particularly fine, comprehensive job. The line about codewords from the film ‘Where Eagles Dare’ proved irresistible in the early copy today.

Coverage today.

Guardian and the “Where Eagles Dare” line.

Daily Mail

The Independent

Daily Telegraph

The Drum

Hacked Off

Broadsword calling Danny Boy – signing off until I see some later takes this evening.

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