Go to Top

Technology Lawyer: John Dozier Interview

Select either the audio immediately below or the text version of the technology lawyer interview located just below our introduction.

Flash audio interview with Mr. Dozier. Listen to Mr. Dozier, a top rated technology lawyer, discuss blogger legal liability on the morning news show of Silicon Valley’s KSRO Radio. Download Adobe Flash Player to listen to the interview.

Technology Lawyer: John W. Dozier Jr.

Text version of KSRO Radio Interview With John W Dozier Jr. follows.

Interviewer: KSRO newstime 7:18. If you’re an avid Blogger, you might want to look over your shoulder, or at least watch what you write. Now more than ever, bloggers are getting sued from everything from defamation to copyright infringement. Joining us on the KSRO Live Line is attorney John Dozier, Jr. Good morning, John.

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: Good morning.

Interviewer: And now, this is rather interesting. More and more people have blogs. you know, what should we be watching out for if we write a blog?

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: Well, I mean, you’ve got two issues. One is what you’re saying and second, is if you have an open-blog, of course, what other people are saying. And the courts are approaching both situations slightly differently. But the most important thing as a blogger would be to stick with the truth. If you stick with the fundamental truth, the objective truth, you’re not going to have many problems out there. If you get into a gray area, what your liability becomes is pretty significant. If you’re sitting here for instance, in Silicon Valley blogging, and a business disagrees with what you’re saying and they’re located in South Georgia, there’s a legal doctrine that can allow that company to file suit against you in South Georgia, and the debate about what is and isn’t true becomes an issue for, you know, a jury that’s perhaps biased toward that company. So, as far as what your own statements are, you stick with the truth, that’s the best rule.

Interviewer: Well, and a lot of blogs contain a lot of opinion. I mean, what if I write a blog that says, “Well, I think the Apple iPhone is crap.” Is that the difference between
opinion and defamation?

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: Yeah.

Interviewer: Is that the difference between opinion and defamation?

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: Yeah, great question. Absolutely, there’s a big difference. Opinion itself is protectable free speech. Here’s the…here’s the trick. Courts around the country disagree as to what is and isn’t opinion. So, when you’re faced with a situation in which you are publishing something, you can’t just rely on what the law is in your location or even within your state. Legal action can be brought wherever the effect of the defamation occurs. So, the law of that jurisdiction will likely apply and that jurisdiction may have a very expansive view as to what is the factual statement, and a very restrictive view as to what is opinion.

Interviewer: Wow. Now, if I run a blog where other people are allowed to post their opinions as well, am I responsible for all the opinions that are posted on that
blog?

Technology Lawyer  John Dozier, Jr.: It depends on what you’re doing with the blog. The best rule, starting out from a basic standpoint, the answer is no. You are merely a service provider. If, however, you start editing or controlling content in any significant way, then you morph over from being a service provider to a content provider, and you all of a sudden have traditional publisher liability for everything that is said on your site.

Interviewer: So, even if I just weed out the most abrasive of comments, that makes me now a content provider?

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: That’s correct. You cannot edit. That’s the irony of the law that was passed several years ago in the section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It
really precludes you from going through and using your judgment as to what
statements you don’t want on your site. So, it’s very difficult to manage risk because
you either have to allow everything to come on, without any influence from
yourself, or you…or you edit and don’t want to create controversy, but by doing that, you
lose your immunity, so it’s really a catch-22 situation.

Interviewer: Wow, now that is actually a rather important thing to know. Now, you know, the Internet started out kind of as the Wild West where everybody makes up their
own rules and there is no law, but now we are certainly bringing law to the
Internet. How is the judicial community viewing lawsuits on the Blogosphere?

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: Oh, it’s the judicial community in terms of the courts or the attorneys? The attorneys are very…you know, are taking one side or the other. You have the pro-business attorneys: our firm predominately represents businesses. We believe that businesses have the right to protect their reputation and that they have the right to protect their IP, it is kind of related. On the other side, you have the public interest groups and you know to some extent, companies like Google that are trying to restrict intellectual property rights, for instance, in copyright. And there’s a legitimate debate going on out there as to where things will…will end up. Of course, we don’t know. It’s still pretty early in the process of adjudicating a lot of these issues.

Interviewer: And lastly, how do you protect your reputation if you’ve got a company on the Blogosphere?

Technology Lawyer John Dozier, Jr.: Well, you have…there are so many tools to be used. If you are particularly concerned about reputation management, there are companies that are focused solely and exclusively on maintaining reputations on the web. You have SEO services that provide optimization of positive and can move negative posts off a prominent spot, and then you have the legal approach and some variations of other options within it. Typically a company that’s the subject of a blog attack is going to address the issue on a number of different fronts using a lot of these tools.

Interviewer: Wow, a rather dense and complex issue nowadays compared to how simple the Internet was just a few years ago. This is defamation and copyright lawyer John Dozier, and you’ve got an interesting website at www.cybertriallawyer.com. Thanks for your time today.

End of Interview

Technology Lawyer Free Consultation

If you are a business or professional, just go to our contact page and call us for a free consultation with Mr. Dozier, a top rated technology lawyer.

Leave a Reply