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Am I responsible for user comments ?

User comments generated legal

     
9:39 am on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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One article of my website generated some comments about a company, some comments good, some comments bad.

The article contains nothing related to that company.

Now the company sent me an email saying I am responsible for the comments and I can be charged for slander and asked me to remove all references to the company.

I know and understand that I have to ask for a professional help but any of your opinions will be useful until then. What do you think ?

12:36 pm on Dec 4, 2009 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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There was a case here in the UK where a complaint against an ISP was upheld. See [en.wikipedia.org...] (I think Wiki links are OK?)
5:50 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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IMO unless you already had a clear site policy statement that said you exercised no control over the comments, they could have a case.
6:22 pm on Dec 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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In your terms and conditions you should have a part saying if you own rights to any comments to comments posted or if the user who posted the comments retains the rights.
12:08 am on Dec 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Your country is very relevant to this question. About 10 years ago my PC user group (we ran our own ISP in Australia) also had an expensive dealing with a certain British academic because someone made some negative comments about him on Usenet (not a website). He wanted the poster's contact details. We refused, and told him that we were not responsible for a subscriber's actions and the next thing we got was a UK lawsuit. A UK judgment can be enforced in Australia, so we had to get expensive legal advice to get out of that one.

You will be told sooner or later that once you edit UGC, your liability is magnified, because anything you didn't edit has your tacit approval. I'd err on the side of caution and avoid expense.

What is your country?

1:28 am on Dec 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I approach comments from this perspective: If the comment to an article or post is not relevant to the article or post it is deleted. Keeps that article/post on target. Makes those pages more accurate and likely to rank well.

You might also look into adding "example.com does not review or edit commentary submitted to this site." if you have no desire to manage/moderate comments. However, that will not relieve you of final responsibility for providing the forum and the need to address any requests such as DCMA (or other country versions), Liability, or Slander (most countries). AND, if ignored, might see your site shut down by the host should THEY recieve those requests.