Last night's meet up of Bay Area Blawgers (aka legal bloggers) was really interesting. Eric Goldman convened the group, and started off with clearly pronouncing that anything said was "on the record."
Some of the more interesting comments, paraphrased, were:
... I'm not as angry as I seem. Also, I often learn from comments, even those that seem snarky. Often, when you meet the person face-to-face, they're as nice as can be. Then their snarky comments on your blog seem to fade away...
... We got three cease and desist letters in one week. One asked us to remove an article that we hadn't written, and as it turned out, the reporter had made several errors. The letter told us to take it down and pay a certain sum of money. It also told us about another blogger who had complied, paid the money, taken the material down... We did cross out the original article (still showing it as readable), and added corrections. We didn't respond to the c & d, and that's the last we heard from them.
Minow comment ex post facto: This is a great example of how libel law needs to evolve. Now that it's so easy to make corrections, and in fact if there's a dispute over what is correct, the aggrieved party can easily mount her own platform to speak her own truth.
And, an action item was given: File notice with the Copyright Office to get a safe harbor if one of your commenters posts infringing material. A show of hands was surprising - maybe one or two of us had done this. I've gently exhorted libraries to do this in the past, but it's something for bloggers to consider as well - especially those with active comments. I just checked, more expensive that I'd thought - $80. The form is dead simple though.
Perhaps the most interesting discussion was at the end - do blawgs influence the law? A patent attorney said he didn't see any influence really. He reads blogs for fun, but when he needs legal authority, he goes to the federal circuit and patent office. Kim Kralowec, however, said that she (and by extension, her blog readers) has far greater access to unpublished decisions, which affects her practice. Eric Goldman talked about emerging areas of law that have lots of unpublished opinions, and with bloggers posting unpublished opinions, minute orders etc., the judges are more accountable since they can't slip under the wire as much.
Finally, an announcement was made that the San Francisco Bar Association is offering a session April 19th at lunch on Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts, Oh My! Unravel New Media’s Ethical Impact on Your Law Practice with 1.5 hours legal ethics MCLE!
Eric asked if we'd all like to reconvene in about six months. A definite yes!
Update: Eric's recap is here.