Breitbart to Become a Free Speech Martyr for Journalists? Let’s Not Let Him.
Here is a fun tidbit. It appears that Andrew Breitbart on the biggovernment site has violated breitbart.com’s terms and conditions.
Now I am not a lawyer, but when I heard people talking about Sherrod suing Breitbart I wondered, "What are the rules that she could sue under?" I know that his lawyers will want to treat him like a journalist, because that gives him the same protections as the New York Times. Instead of putting him in the protected realm of a journalist maybe he could be sued under the TOS of his OWN site, which it appears that he violated (see below).
As someone who sometimes acts as a journalist (I even have a fedora with a press pass sticking out of it!) I understand the desire to avoid being sued for defamation. Libel and slander laws can be abused by the public, but in this case it is the "journalist" who is abusing his power without being responsible. Right wing "media" often get all the benefits of journalists, with none of the responsibilities. Fox even got a court ruling that they don’t have to tell the truth!
When was the last time that one of these "journalists" ran a correction, and stopped repeating the incorrect information? Saying you are sorry after the fact is good, but does it really mean anything if later you repeat the information as if you were never corrected?
Breitbart will want to rap the mantel of journalist around himself to avoid a judgment against him. He will employee the same high priced lawyers that his buddy Drudge did when he was sued by Sidney Blumenthal.
Instead of looking at the laws governing the defamation in the media we might want to look in other places to emphasize Breitbart is not a journalist. In fact, we don’t have to look any farther than the violation of his own TOS in this case.
This might just all be ironic,"He breaks his own rules!", but if he can’t live up to the standards of his own publications maybe he shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt by the media (I almost said "others in the media," which shows how I’ve already gotten that false idea in my brain that he is the media).
Here are some of the relevant sections from breitbart.com’s TOS. I’ve highlighted a few words to keep you awake as you skim. I know that legal boilplate turns people into zombies. If you want full on Zombifcation here is the whole document.
- Without limiting the foregoing, you agree not to post on or transmit through the Services any material which violates or infringes in any way upon the rights of others or which encourages conduct that would violate any law or give rise to civil or criminal liability under any law.
- You agree not to use the Services in any way that abuses, defames, stalks, annoys, threatens, harasses or violates the rights of privacy, publicity, intellectual property or other legal rights of others (now or hereafter recognized) or which encourages conduct which would violate any law or give rise to civil or criminal liability or post, publish, transmit, distribute, disseminate or upload any inappropriate, infringing, defamatory, profane, indecent, obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent or illegal/unlawful material or matters, including, without limitation, information, topics, names or other material.
- falsify or delete any author attributions, legal or other proper notices or proprietary designations or labels of the origin or source of software or other material contained in a file that is uploaded;
- restrict, inhibit, harass or attempt to prevent any other user from using and enjoying the Services;
- disclose personal information and/or collect information about others (especially personal information or information likely to lead to personal identification of another), including email addresses, without their prior consent; or
- violate any applicable domestic or international laws or regulations.
Zombie boilerplate is used by lawyers at powerful corporations to attack others. ABC Radio/Disney used it on me in order to shut down my blog when they didn’t like that I was posting horrific audio clips from talk radio hosts. Now I don’t suggest that we use this on Breitbart, the screams, "They are trying to silence me!" would be deafening, but if he is found guilty of violating some laws, as defined by the state of California, his own web hosting company should also be notified. I’m sure the conservatives agree with me that everyone should follow the laws and rules, especially the ones that they post on their own respective sites. Edgecast (which hosts biggovernment) makes it very clear that they have NOTHING to do with what anyone says on the site they host–as long as it is legal. But if someone does break the law they say:
Edgecast Illegal Use
- EdgeCast’s network and services can only be used for legal purposes. The transmission, storage, or distribution of content that is in violation of any applicable domestic or foreign law or regulation is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, the EdgeCast services may not be used to distribute, store, or transmit any virus, Trojan horse, worm, or any other content that may be harmful to the EdgeCast network, equipment, or other users. Customer may not use the EdgeCast Network or services to store or distribute content that is in any way fraudulent or misleading, for the purposes of deceptive advertising or for the purposing of promoting deceptive products or services.
Breitbart will be using any method he can to protect himself from any consequences to his actions. The right wing media have already started circling the wagons. Let’s try and remind the real media and people on our side that they don’t need to contort themselves to protect him. He may have violated a number of standard contracts and other agreements (with his advertisers?). I really do NOT want him to be a poster child for "free speech" and journalism, especially when he doesn’t act like one. He will attempt to be the victim here.
I would rather Breitbart be treated as a bully who has abused his own TOS or other applicable laws for non-journalists.