Legal issues that concern online publishers

Andy Sellars from the Citizen Media Law Project gave a great short course on legal issues that concern online publishers.  A few highlights…

The Citizen Media Law Project and the Online Media Legal Network is a resource for online journalists and digital creators.

They provide training, resources, research and legal assistance for online journalists and digital creators.


  • Website code is copyright protected
  • Something is copyrighted as soon as a worked is fixed in a tangible medium of expression
  • Facts are not protected by copyright-no one owns facts

Fair Use
There are four factors that are used to determine fair use.

  1. Purpose, transformativeness and character of use*
  2. Nature of the underlying work
  3. Amount and substantially taken
  4. Effect on the market  for the original work*

*90% of cases get decided based on these two factor.

Context matters when it comes to transformativeness:

When a work is used in a news context and than is used again in a news context = NOT fair use
When a work is used in an atheistic context and is than used in a news context = that IS fair use

Fifth fair use factor = The judge in the case.  They can be an influence

Every state is different when it comes to defamation law-be aware of your states defamation laws

Context matters when determining defamation

Creative Commons is not a replacement for copyright protection
Remember your J-school training when it comes to copyright defamation and liability
Protect yourself

  • Incorporate your business
  • Insurance

Think Risk and Axis Pro are popular insurance providers for small media business’.

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