“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.