ARRSE and The Law - Experts Please

#1
For some reason I woke up this morning at 5am with concerns about ARRSE and the law. In short, are our umbrellas good enough? I would therefore appreciate well informed input in to how we stand regarding legal action based on site content.

Our 'umbrella', if we have one at all, comes mainly from:

Site policy: http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=5375.html

Privacy policy / membership agreement (link on the bottom of each page although very small and accepted on application for membership): http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/privacy_policy.html

Use of a small army of dedicated moderators who do a very good and normally fast job of spotting potential problems. Note that some forums do not have dedicated moderators.

Our status as a means of communication, perhaps comparable to live TV in that we only have editorial control after posting if someone breaks the rules above.

Educated opinions very welcome!
 
#2
OK I'm not a lawyer but the first thing that springs to mind is:

Where's is the Site's disclaimer?

You know the sort of thing:
"ARRSE is not responsible for anything posted by anyone. All Messages posted are the views of the poster Blah blah blah blah..."

You’ve sort of close to it with the User agreement and the site policy.
 
#3
I now work in broadcasting and as GM of the company am responsible for all arrse covering procedures. Here are a couple of tips:

1. Have you considered taking out defamation insurance. It is well worth getting a quote. If nothing else you can find out from the Insurance Company what steps they suggest to limit your risk.

2. A disclaimer clause at a prominent point of the site is usefull.

3. Make all members aware that should ARRSE be sued for something a private member posted ARRSE reserve the right to sue that individual, in turn. By the way this is how a defamation insurance policy works. It will only protect ARRSE not the individual members and where they lose a case they will take litigation against the individual to recover their costs.

4. Keep a history of examples where ARRSE have disciplined members. This will not protect you from litigation however at any subsequent hearing it goes to show a genuine attempt at moderation and may limit penalties.

5. The main thing is to carry out regular risk assessments. I occassionally ask an outsider to review our broadcast as internally we are too ready to accept lapses of judgement as being innocent.

6. When a lapse occurrs have a well written retraction ready to paste up in an obvious part of the site as well the thread the defamation occurred. It is worth getting a lawyer who specialises in defamation to word it so that it denounces nasty comments without accepting liability that they were nasty in the first place.

7. Transfer all your assetts in wifeys name. Appear skint at all times.

8. Work on finding a pro bono lawyer. Several years ago had a defamation claim where although we were found guilty we were only fined $1. The problem was the legal costs led to broadcast announcer losing his house.

Good luck.
 
#4
Not an educated opinion I'm afraid, just a best guess. I believe that a short period of drawing EVERYONE's attention to the site rules again would buy enough time to gain genuine learned opinion. Might I suggest an automatic addition to every signature block something similar to the one I have added here to mine, for say, a full calendar month? Or would it be possible for it to add automatically to every poster with, say, less than 100 posts - thereby ensuring that it continues to "pop up" routinely?

Good CO said:
Use of a small army of dedicated moderators who do a very good and normally fast job of spotting potential problems. Note that some forums do not have dedicated moderators.
This also must bcontinue to be the strongest defence possible. PTP in particular takes some stick from a vociferous minority of out-and-out libertarians but the MODs of ARRSE do an absolutely fantastic job in my opinion and long may they continue to do so.
 
#8
IMHO Probably the best you can ever do is have a well thought out TOS, including a policing and enforcement policy, a jurisdiction and dispute policy, and an effective system for reporting violations or abuse.

It goes a long way to either reducing the risk/effect of a claim. Heaven forbid a claim is ever filed a judge (and jury) will be more likely sympathetic to the forum operator who took prompt well reasoned action. This is where having a well written and clearly published policy in place that anticipates problems, can save you a measure of grief.


Edited because quite clearly it is Monday morning and I still can't spell.
 
#11
Thanks for the feedback and some excellent points made. Birdie_Numnums you've been particularly helpful and I'll certainly be putting some of those suggestions in to practice ASAP. More thoughts welcome, particularly from anyone with internet legal experience.
 
#12
Reading through the T&C's, I can't find anything regarding private photos being posted with out permission. Not regarding things taken off the net but member to member. If I'm mistaken, apologies, but with out permission its illegal right?
 
#13
Anya,

Did you look at this? www.patent.gov.uk/copy...nition.htm


"original artistic works, e.g. paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, works of architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps, logos;"

“So the above works are protected by copyright, regardless of the medium in which they exist and this includes the internet. You should also note that copyright does not protect ideas. It protects the way the idea is expressed in a piece of work, but it does not protect the idea itself.”


Hope this is of some help.
 
#14
Thats fine, thanks for the help. I was reading this thread and it got me thinking about private photos. I have come across sites where people are outting others and putting pictures of them up. Didn't know if that was a case or not. But you have helped.


Cheers
xxxx
 
#15
Good CO, yes you should be worried, and here is why.

In a nutshell, in UK law, you can sue for defamation rising from online comments made on bulletin boards.

Murray’s decision to raise an action stems from libellous statements made on the website by one of his ex-pupils, Jonathan Spencer. The successful action against his former student was groundbreaking, as it was the first time in the UK anyone had won damages in a defamation case against the author of comments posted on the internet.
note your potential responsibilities:

Precedents for the case were established in 1996 in the case of Laurence Godfrey versus Demon Internet Limited. Under the 1996 Defamation Act, an ISP must satisfy two conditions to avoid liability for any published defamatory material. Firstly, it must take reasonable steps to prevent the publication of any offending material and secondly, if it is notified of such a publication, it must be removed immediately.

Dr Laurence Godfrey contacted the ISP, Demon, requesting defamatory material posted on their website, Usenet Newsgroups, be removed. Although Demon did remove the postings, they only did so a fortnight after the request was made. This delay weighed heavily in Dr Godfrey’s favour. Demon could not rely on the defence of innocent dissemination as they had been alerted to the issue in question two weeks previously. They agreed to pay Godfrey £15,000 plus his court fees and issued an apology.
I'm sure that ARRSE users would be willing to donate to help out with costs for a consultation with a lawyer with experience in this area. Far better than asking them to shell out 15g's in compensation
 
#16
Anya1982 said:
Thats fine, thanks for the help. I was reading this thread and it got me thinking about private photos. I have come across sites where people are outting others and putting pictures of them up. Didn't know if that was a case or not. But you have helped.


Cheers
xxxx

Hi Ayna,

It really is a grey area within the law.

There is so much cut, copy and paste going on, it is hard to keep track of. I’m sure however, come the day (if it hasen’t happened already), there will be a day of reckoning.

Take care out there :wink:
 
#17
Once again, thanks for the input.

The Demon case was quite interesting and was based on the fact that Demon had failed to remove something after being asked to do so. I'm happy rnough there as we always act on complaints. It's interesting to see from Hand10's other post that the courts seem to have applied common sense in the area, which is reassuring - being absolutely responsable for everything posted on ARRSE from the moment it is posted would be cause for worry indeed.

Regarding a lawyer, I will make some changes to the information available about complaints and so forth on the site then may ask one to check through it. Leg work by me first though I think.
 

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