they use your website in a TV broadcast about scams?
By Elena Petrova
you designed your website, you probably dreamt about
how wonderful it would be if one day a popular TV
program featured it, and you would become famous overnight,
and make lots of $$$.
practice shows that your dream for your website to
be featured on national TV can indeed come true, but
NOT exactly in the way you imagined!
couple of questions for you to answer:
Can your website be used, without your permission,
in a broadcast about scams?
Can your personal photo, without you knowing about
it, be displayed in a TV program about illegal activities?
you think No way!, think again
it already happens! (Real-life case study can be found
even more it may turn out to be absolutely
wouldnt think about it this way, would you?
You probably think that if such a thing happens to
you can sue the TV program and retire young and rich?
let me elaborate a little on the subject of defamation
and defamation law, how it works offline and online.
relationship between online and offline Media is very
young, and therefore, unregulated. In fact, online
publications are legally recognized as a public media
on its own. This means, a publication of a defamatory
statement on your website, forum or mailing list CAN
be prosecuted in the same fashion as a publication
in a newspaper.
now, since Internet is considered a public media,
any information that is published on your website
may be also considered as being in a *public domain*,
which means ANY information that is available online
may be used by another media publication in their
review of other publications.
use of this information will be legal.
does it mean for YOU?
means that a TV program or a newspaper can use a snapshot
of your website in their publication or broadcast.
They can use images of your website, and they are
legally allowed to do it!
TV program, for example, can show pages of your website
when talking about the industry trends or to illustrate
a topic of the broadcast.
what if the program is about SCAMS in your industry?
example, what if a TV program decided to highlight
fraud in delivering merchandise or services purchased
TV broadcast could show your website in the beginning
of the program, as one of many websites delivering
this type of merchandise or services, and then go
onto discussing fraud issues and interviews with victims
of online scams.
is apparent that displaying the pages of your website
in such a context could hurt your reputation, even
if the program did not name your website and only
used its web pages as background images.
a TV program is allowed to use the pages of your website
in a broadcast. Are they allowed to use the pages
of your website in the context of illegal activities?
is an uncertain issue.
we already said, the relationship between online and
offline media dont have specific regulations.
a media publication is allowed to use any factual
content related to a matter of public interest.
most illegal activities and their prevention ARE a
matter of public interest, the media publication has
the privileged defence of *public interest matter*,
should you voice your disagreement with the use of
your website and decide to sue the program for defamation.
in court that the TV program was defamatory for you
will not be easy. You will have to present hard evidence
that such a publication could hurt your reputation
as the owner of that business, and that there were
people who identified you as the owner of the business
shown in the program and that
the program indeed portrayed you in the way that some
people would *shun, avoid or ridicule* you because
of the way your business was portrayed. You must also
prove that such use of your website was unfair and
did not fall under the privilege of *fair comment*,
available to Media. You also may be
required, depending on the defamation laws in your
country or state, to present the evidences of monetary
loss due to the broadcast of the alleged defamation.
cases against large media corporations can cost hundreds
of thousands of dollars, because of the tactics that
those media corporations use to prevent the plaintiff
(the person who believes he was defamed) from getting
his case to the stage of court hearing.
plaintiff has to spend a fortune on lawyers (you do
not want a low cost lawyer defending your
defamation case against a large, experienced in legal
battles media corporation), before the case is ready
to proceed to the court and all requests of the defendant
are satisfied. Then another fortune is to be spent
on court hearings, which may also be sabotaged
of course, in legally permitted ways.
then, the outcome of your defamation case is unpredictable.
It will, firstly, depend on your lawyers.
Secondly, it will depend on your witnesses, who, by
the time your case goes to the court, which can be
a few years down the line, can forget most things
related to the defamation issue, and therefore appear
unreliable. And then the large media corporation still
has the privilege of *fair comment* and *public interest
the end of the day, if your defamation case is unsuccessful,
you will be required to pay the legal fees of the
defendant, which will double your legal bill, and
can easily reach payments of $200,000-300,000.
you can see that dealing with a large media corporation
in a legal way can be suicidal for a small online
what can you do to prevent using the contents of your
website in a way you disapprove?
mere copyright notice is not enough in this case.
need to employ your imagination and make sure you
spell in an unambiguous way that any use of your website
content can be contemplated only with your explicit
written permission. Add this statement to your Terms
Of Use Agreement (if you do not have one, write it
NOW!). Make sure there is a link to this
Agreement on every page of your website.
use of www.xyz.com website specifies that you agree
time you use www.xyz.com website you void to confirm
content available through www.xyz.com website is the
sole property of XYZ, Ltd, and is protected by copyright,
trademark and other intellectual property laws. Except
as otherwise explicitly agreed in writing, XYZ owned
content received through the XYZ website may be
downloaded, displayed, reformatted and printed for
your personal, non-commercial use only, through the
means of your home computer. You agree not to reproduce,
retransmit, distribute, sell, publish, broadcast or
circulate, or in any way disclose the information
received through the XYZ website to anyone, without
XYZ 's prior written consent. All information published
on XYZ website should be treated as private and confidential
and the publication of such information on XYZ website
does not specify that this information is in the public
domain. Any reproduction, retransmission, distribution,
publishing, broadcasting or circulating of the information
received through XYZ website, without explicit written
permission of XYZ, will be illegal and prosecuted
desired, a note that the information on the site should
NOT be considered as being in *public domain* can
may also help to create a special page named press
and place there your press release, which you would
like Media to use if they want to make a reference
to your website. Place the link Press
on your home page where it cannot be missed. Request
them to contact you prior to any use of your website
their publications. Put there all your contact details
including phone and fax and the name of the person
responsible for press enquires. Include on this page
the information that you disapprove using your website
contents and images, unless you gave your explicit
permission in writing, and that the
information on your website is NOT in the public domain.
of course may not help against unscrupulous reporters,
if they REALLY want to use YOUR SITE in a negative
context; but in case if the reporters just browsing
the Internet for a picture to use, they will rather
select a site that does not have this warning.
if they use your site despite the warning, you will
have a much better case and can complain to a broadcasting
authority that the program breached privacy or other
regulations specified in the rules for a broadcast
in your country.
has multiple privileges in defamation cases, and this
you cannot change. But as website owners we have our
own privileges, too!
Internet is a much less regulated field than any offline
business, where you seldom have a way to make every
to using your service. On the Internet, by the mere
use of your website, visitors may be bound by your
miss out on writing YOUR own rules of the game!
they download YOUR PHOTO
from the Internet and use in a TV program about SCAMS?
If you think "No way!", think again!
It already happens!!! Click
above article was sourced by Greg Tingle from MediaDefamation.org
of which Elena Petrova is the founder of.
exact URL of the original article is http://www.mediadefamation.org/articles/defamation.htm
articles by Greg Tingle:
man news media websites
Who Needs Protection? - 4th September 2003
stations lack of Internet vision - 30th July 2003
articles at Mediaman
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