Archived Post from 2008-03-25: Self-libel in fiction, a problem that doesn’t seem to have ever been litigated

“This is another test post” based on an old blog (“Technology-law Confluence”) from the old domain “billboushka.com” which will be deprecated (content moved to new location) in March 2019. I am putting it up on this free WordPress site on my WordPress account to archive it, but also today in order to practice using the new Gutenberg editor with imported text.”

Technology-Law Confluence: Legal perils when fiction resembles real life; is self-libel possible?

The case Bindrim v. Mitchell, in California, in 1979, establishes the idea that “real people” who are depicted in a novel (in this case, “Touching“, by Gwen Davis) purporting to be “fiction” can bring legal action (such as libel or invasion of privacy) if a reasonable person would know that the character in the novel really is supposed to “be” that person. A UMKC law school link is here.

Time Magazine has an old article from Mar. 17, 1980 “Writers’ Rights and Wrongs: A publishing house throws the book at one of its authors,” link here. This refers to the fact that typically authors have to indemnify publishers against loss, and today Internet self-publishers have to indemnify ISPs (as part of “terms of service”), even though, in practice, such contract provisions have generally been only very rarely enforced for obvious business reasons. (ISP’s have pursued people in spam-related cases.)

It is not necessarily true that this principle would hold in other states in which it has not been litigated.

There is another case in Vermont, Garrido v. Krasnansky, this a divorce proceeding, in which a judge has ordered on party to stop talking about a case online. The case is interesting because the online talk was a blog that purported to be “fiction.” I did not find a court opinion on line, but here is a blog entry from Info Law on the case, here.

Another problem known to have occurred but not litigated (in Virginia) is where an individual used a character based on himself in a fictitious setting on-line in an unfavorable way to make a “political point,” and a principal at a public school where the person worked tried to have the person removed. Eventually the person left for other reasons. It is not clear as a matter of law whether the “Bindrim” principle would apply to a likeness of the self, especially in a state other than California or Vermont.

It’s also interesting to wonder when rulings can be used from other states to make arguments to establish the same precedent in a new state. “Full Faith and Credit” applies to contracts (usually marriage, until now), but not for other legal doctrines.

It’s possible that an objection to “real life resembling” fiction may become stronger if some of the content is actually based on factual events, even if names (and perhaps places or times) are changed.

The “fact or fiction” issue also obviously ties into the new controversies about “online reputation defense.”

Originally posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008.

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Archived Post: 2008-7-25, Free content pros and cons

Monocacy Dam, C&O Canal, Potomac River, MD, 2018-12

This is a test post, where I have brought in an archived post from an old site, where I am trying to practice WordPress with the Gutenberg editor.

There’s a lot of talk out there about schemes to allow users to block Internet advertising. And there is a variety of proposals.

One is on “Internet Outsider” (all the way back to April 2007) is Henry Blodget’s “One Way for Microsoft to Kill Google”, (outdated link) is to put more emphasis on a “cost per impression” (CPM) basis as well as “cost per click” (CPC). The writer suggests that Microsoft create CPM network to compete with Google’s Adsense.

But another writer suggests something even more sinister and nefarious: simply build an adblocker into the next service pack for Windows Vista and make it apply to all ads and all browsers (especially IE and Firefox). Would that blow away the entire free content industry? Would newspapers stop offering their content free in online editions? Would not only Blogger disappear but a lot of shared web hosting go away? What happens to social networking sites? It’s a scary thought, because the plain truth is that the whole boom in self-promotion is predicated on a two-way street, the idea that ordinary users are willing to see and react with ads. I found this suggestion on a WordPress blog called “Reluctant blogger”, also (apparently) posted “way back” in April 2007. It’s easy to imagine legal complications if Microsoft attempted this.

In fact IE7Pro a separate ad-on, offers an ad blocker.

There is also a product called “Adblock” as part of “Rick’s Easylist” (outdated link) started by an entrepreneur in update New York who simply calls himself “Rick”.

What I don’t know is how much traction these products are getting. But when I started my own personal publishing back in 1996, I paid little or no attention to advertising. I started with a book and then used the websites to supplement the book to draw and interest readers to my political arguments.

It’s not clear whether these blockers affect ads that play before free videos, or even those, common on newspaper sites and imdb, that overlay the content and must be closed to see the content. Those are more disruptive to viewers, but may be necessary to support the free content.

Am I cutting my own throat by pointing this out? No, because readers will find out anyway. We might as well started a spirited debate about it.

Also, notice, on this particular blog, there are no ads. At least right now. That could change later.

Original post: Friday, July 25, 2008

Archived Post 20100620 Internet Kill Switch

Lieberman proposes “kill Internet switch” law for president as PCNAA act; earlier drafts had existed in 2009

There were two drafts in 2009 that would effectively give the president an “Internet kill switch”.
The first draft is Cyberadvisor 1 here.

“To establish, within the Executive Office of the President, the Office of
the National Cybersecurity Advisor.”
The second is the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, here.

“To ensure the continued free flow of commerce within the United States and with its global trading partners through secure cyber communications, to provide for the continued development and exploitation of the Internet and intranet communications for such purposes, to provide for the development of a cadre of information technology specialists to improve and maintain effective cyber security defenses against disruption, and for other purposes.
.
Webpronews analysis is here.

A much more recent development is
“Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA” proposed by Joe Lieberman, S 3480, Opencongress link.

A Govtracker article is here.

The bill can be found here on Govtrack, link , introduced June 10, 2010 by Senator Joseph Lieberman.

It’s name is “A bill to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and other laws to enhance the security and resiliency of the cyber and communications infrastructure of the United States.”

The full text is here.

See also April 15, 2009 entry on this blog.

(This is a test post with 5.0.1)

Archived Post 20130819 Section 230

State attorneys general want to gut some of Section 230

I will start moving some “technology law” posts, most of them made between 2007-2010, a few later, to this free-standing blog, since the ISP deleted the old WordPress blog when it moved “billboushka.com“.

In July, a number of state attorneys general floated a letter to Congress to make Section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act inapplicable to state laws.

The original proposal, from NAAG (National Association of Attorneys General) is here.

The CDT wrote a letter back, text here.

The ACLU has a robust discussion here.