Wednesday, March 26, 2008

If You Post an OPINION in Your BLOG and No One Reads It, is it LIBEL?

The post-modern equivalent of this
classic philosophical riddle:

"If a tree falls in a forest
and no one is around to hear it,
does it make a sound?"



Brian's Blog has now gone beyond
mere gossip and salacious controversy;

it's now turning into a precedent for bloggers' parameters,
and a test case for the boundaries of FREE SPEECH on the web.



The issue now raises questions about what constitutes
LIBEL, INFORMATION DISSEMINATION,
PUBLIC ACCESS, TRUTH, OPINIONS,
ACCOUNTABILITY, and flat out CENSORSHIP

in this age of Information Technology.



It may lead to intricate analyses on what a "blog" really is:

is it a
PERSONAL JOURNAL for Public Viewing,
or is it a
PUBLIC DOCUMENT from a Personal Perspective?




I was in the mood to pick a fight with Abe Olandres,
the Philippines' Top Maven of Blogging,
when he posted this on Yugatech:

"Here’s what could get bloggers into trouble if they’re covering the issue.

> Publicly mentioning names of people being exposed in the blog.
> Posting pictures of the people being named by Brian Gorrell in his blog.
> Publishing the URL of the blog or linking to the blog.
> Quoting a libelous sentence on the blog
or re-publishing/summarizing allegations thereof."


Alright, I admit,
I wanted to "shoot the messenger"!

Sorry, Yuga!
I know you were being helpful, and actually
giving important advice to your fellow bloggers.

(Yuga's already been a defendant in an internet libel case
which has since been dropped by the plaintiff)




Still,
it galls me to note that merely publishing the URL,
or simply linking to a website can get me into trouble.

That's akin to saying that if I tell my friends about
a hard-hitting Mon Tulfo column,
I could also be sued for "libel".

That's tantamount to muzzling my ability to speak,
and in my book, that's CENSORSHIP, pure and simple.




I believe in self-regulation
and I'm advocate of responsible writing,

and I intrinsically believe that the greatest gain
we achieved through EDSA I was the return of Press Freedom.


Our Philippine Revolutions
have all arisen from the power of words,


from Rizal's Noli and Fili, to the
Malaya and We Forum mosquito press after Ninoy's killing,
to the millions of text messages during EDSA DOS,

the pure and simple act of writing
has been the catalyst of change for the Filipino.




In this Age of Information,
the traditional trimedia won't be the main means
of influencing opinion and creating action:

BLOGS,
with their added advantage of access and immediacy,
will be central to the next revolutions.

(no big surprise why China is sooo wary about the 'net)


And to find out that this new technology,
this free and unfettered medium of the everyman,

is now severely under fire from outdated libel laws
and under siege from insecure powers-that-be,

leads to a sobering realization of its POWER,
and an urgent impetus for us to protect it as
we would safeguard our very own FREEDOM.



4 Comments:

Blogger tibo_3rd said...

so, pano itong interview ni annalyn kay brian (http://www.annalyn.net/2008/03/18/brian-gorrell-the-official-mini-interview/), which she posted in her blogsite?

March 27, 2008 at 9:14 PM  
Anonymous toni said...

Great perspective, Spanx. I agree w/ self-regulation.

April 3, 2008 at 6:33 PM  
Anonymous TheBachelorGirl said...

True.

April 4, 2008 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Philippine Updates said...

Apparently, the libel laws sucks not only here. A couple of weeks ago, a blog in France was fined a few thousand francs for posting a link to an apparently libelous post. The court ruled that posting a link makes one responsible for disseminating its contents.

Bloggers should do something about this.

April 8, 2008 at 10:41 PM  

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