The First Amendment V Blogging.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Richard Weisser Realty

The First Amendment V Blogging by Richard Weisser“Congress shall make no law respecting … freedom of speech, or of the press”

Does the First Amendment of the Constitution apply to blogging?

While technically a blogger is a journalist and there are constitutional protections, these fundamental rights do not give a blogger blanket immunity from civil culpability.

Just because an individual has a “right” to do something does NOT alleviate responsibility for negligence or wrongdoing.

You can’t go to jail for libel. You had a right to say it. But you CAN be sued!

You can’t go to jail for a trademark violation. You had a right to say it. But you CAN be sued!

You can’t go to jail for plagiarism. You had a right to say it. But you CAN be sued!

You can’t go to jail for violating a commercial contract by publishing propriety content. You had a right to say it. But you CAN be subjected to previously agreed to contractual remedies or sanctions!

For example, in a real estate MLS cooperating members agree to a set of standards regarding the dissemination of propriety listing information. In many cases, listing brokers may not alter content that is republished via mutually agreed upon broker reciprocity provisions.

So while a broker has the RIGHT to publish these listings as their own and may choose to add photos and embellish property descriptions, the broker may be subject to MLS fines or sanctions for reciprocity violations.

It’s the fundamental difference between rights and rules!


Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of the author who is NOT an attorney, and is not intended as legal advice. It is offered only as a topic for conversation. Always seek the advice of an attorney for competent legal advice.


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Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

Richard Weisser Yes, the courts have ruled, but that doesn't stop the MSM from poo poo-ing the blog-o-sphere. The MSM doesn't have the control of blogging like they would like. That is why they are pressing for 'journalists' to be licensed.

I wonder if that would mean when they publish a fraudulent story they could lose their license to write. Wouldn't that be great!

Aug 13, 2014 01:25 AM #11
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Hmmmm, if we're now considered journalists, maybe I can get a free press pass admission to the local amusement park :) 

Aug 13, 2014 01:27 AM #12
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Excellent post.  As journalist one has to research and make sure that what one is writing is true.  I like Myrl's comment.  A

Aug 13, 2014 01:46 AM #13
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Richard, Very good post. Like anything just be cause you have a right to do something does not mean it will not come with consequences.

Aug 13, 2014 01:50 AM #14
Richard Weisser
Richard Weisser Realty - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional

Chris Miller ...

Yes, in advance is always preferable!

Brian Schulman ...

I guess if it is written and disseminated then it is more of a freedom of the press issue than speech!

Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl ...

Theoretically speech cannot be criminalized, but that concept has eroded over the years.


Aug 13, 2014 01:50 AM #15
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

You know Richard that "threat" of a law suit is why sometimes I change things up a bit to make my point, but so that the guilty may not be indentified from my words.  Last post I wrote was such a post.  You do have to be super careful.

Aug 13, 2014 02:06 AM #16
Dale Bledsoe
Crown Key Realty - Tracy, CA
Realtor in Tracy, California

Very good post. Your freedom ends when the rights of others are violated. Free speech does not justify or permit yelling fire in a crowed theater. Excellent post.

Aug 13, 2014 02:11 AM #17
David M. Dwares
Title Professionals Corp. - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Title guy with a broker license

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from abridging freedom of speech. 

A website can still choose to prohibit or remove a blog post it finds offensive or that violates its terms and rules.

Aug 13, 2014 04:58 AM #18
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the great post. I hope everyonewill read it and learn from it.

Aug 13, 2014 07:42 AM #19
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Obviously, we're not journalists. I'm just a person communicating my thoughts and opinions in written form. Hopefully, I'll never cross the line that would result in a lawsuit.

Aug 13, 2014 07:59 AM #20
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

I think blogging should be protected by the first amendment.

Aug 13, 2014 08:07 AM #21
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

Richard, you are right on, just because we have the right to free speech doesn't give us the right to break the law in our blogs, or slander people, just saying.

Aug 13, 2014 10:20 AM #22
Pamela Madore
The Pamela Madore Group - Amarillo, TX
Team Work Makes The Dream Work

So many rules.  I just want to have fun!  

Aug 13, 2014 11:48 AM #23
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

These are good guidelines for those who want to speak or public material.  One must be mindful of what they say.

Aug 13, 2014 12:21 PM #24
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Richard Weisser we live in the litigation world - so yes, we may not go to jail but can be sued!

Aug 13, 2014 03:20 PM #25
ReadySetLoan Condo Approval Team
ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC - South Windsor, CT
The FHA/VA Condo Project Approval Specialists

Hi Richard - these are great points that you made.  While writing these things may not land us in jail, we can still end up on the bad side of a legal battle.

Aug 13, 2014 08:26 PM #26
Vern Eaton
Askov, MN
Realtor 651-674-7449

Rights and rules are many times either mis-undestood or just plain ignored.

Aug 14, 2014 12:06 AM #27
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Some things cannot be regulated but instead give way to common sense. In the absence of common sense, rules take precedence are my thoughts. I bet there are rules in place right now that can convict anyone. The IRS knows them well

Aug 14, 2014 12:52 AM #28
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Richard, You have some great information here for us in the Rain,  Thanks for you input.

Aug 14, 2014 02:36 AM #29
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

In the liticious society that we live in I think you can be sued for walking across the street incorrectly. Just can't worry about stuff like that.

Aug 19, 2014 11:12 AM #30
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