August 26, 2005

If every company sued everybody who talked about them on the web...

lawyers wouldn't have time to go after me for unpaid medical bills!

Check out Dave Taylor's post about a lawsuit by a company that claims a pack of "john does" released trade secrets in the comments of the now-defendant's blog.

Aaron Walls, the now-defendant, has a good run-down here, of what did/didn't go on, though he may have to remove the post based on legal advice, so Dave says read it now.

These things always raise those issues we all like to talk about when they're raised. Like how responsible are we for what others say on our sites. What does it mean for comments if it ends up costing Aaron $10K for what was left on his. What if we don't make any money doing this stuff and, well, were say on vacation when the Does descended. What's it mean for content and who "owns" what when multiple people are conversing on one site. Where does my fence line end and my neighbor's begin. And how the hell would I know they're trade secrets. Are we sure they are?

Seems to me that (guess they were a little late on the domain name acquisition front) should be trying to find out who John Does 1-10 are and not sicking the dogs on Aaron.

On the business side, the case offers some fodder for thought, as Dave Taylor says:

What I find most telling about this lawsuit is that it's aimed directly at a blog and a blogger, not related to what the blogger is writing about, but about what others are adding in his comments. By leaving those comments intact while deleting comment spam, obscenities, pre-teen p0rn drivel, etc., Aaron has indeed walked into a surprise firestorm of legal troubles. However this case may turn out, I see it as a wakeup call to business bloggers who haven't yet thought through their own comment and comment moderation strategies. In a nutshell: what liability are you exposing yourself to by not strictly moderating the content of your entire blog, not just your own articles?

A mighty question indeed.