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Online Publishers Can Face Criminal Charges, So Be Careful What You Write

Written by 9rules Blog on November 4, 2014

There’s such a thing as freedom of speech. You can publish anything you want online, right? You’re not bound to strict laws such as print media is.

You are correct about the first sentence, but there are some things you need to reassess when it comes to the last two statements above.

online publishers

There is such a thing as freedom of speech, but laws do apply to online publishers, and if you are not aware of them, you just might find yourself facing a lawsuit, or worse, criminal charges.

First things first. You have to know the laws in your country or state. If, for example, you are registered in California, then you have to familiarize yourself with the state laws. If you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of facing charges, the first thing to do then is to get in touch with a reputable Los Angeles criminal lawyer so that you are guided from the get-go.

That being said, how can you avoid charges because of what you publish online?

As an online publisher, the main things to take note of are as follows.

Piracy

Piracy is a common offense, which also covers copyright infringement, which online publishers are prone to. Copyright infringement applies to the use of any material without explicit agreement of the owner of the copyright. Material refers to images and photos, music, text, videos, and so on. You might think that you’re simply “borrowing” material and giving attribution, so you’re safe; but that’s not the case.

The best way to prevent copyright infringement is to use material under the Creative Commons license. Learn more about that here.

“Jokes”

With the popularity of social media, online publishers have also joined that bandwagon. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t be held liable for what you publish on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

In the UK, there have been cases where “jokes” about blowing up an airport has led to prosecution and conviction, although that was reversed after an appeal.

Imagine if you were to write something similar on your web site or blog – or any social media platform, you might get into legal trouble as well; so be careful with your “jokes”.

Privacy (of others)

Information Privacy on computer keyboard background

The California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) revolves around the idea that any online publication has to keep the personal information of their readers. Additionally, they have “to post a conspicuous privacy policy on its website stating exactly the information being collected and those individuals with whom it is being shared, and to comply with this policy”.

While the law’s name indicates the state of California, it also applies to the rest of the United States.

Cyberbullying resulting in real-life harm

Cyberbullying has resulted in real-life harm over the years. The most infamous case is that of the suicide of Megan Meier, who killed herself because of a relationship with a “false” person online. As a result of that, the Megan Meier foundation was established.

You may express your opinions, of course, but if it goes too far, you may find yourself in deeper waters than you expected.

The ball is in your court

What do you publish online? Are you aware of the consequences of being careless of what you say? Hopefully, this post has enlightened you about things to avoid in your blog or on social media.