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Monday 12 May 2008

French legal shocker

This is bizarre. Richard Best reports that in an Out-Law podcast they carried the news that a French court has decided you're liable for libelous RSS feeds you carry.

The Court didn't agree that sites had no control over what was automatically updated, they didn't accept no 'editorial control'.

Richard says:
Under New Zealand law [which is based on English law], there is not necessarily a ubiquitous answer to the question of whether populating one’s website with third party content - via an incoming and automatically-updating RSS feed - that breaches someone else’s rights, will render the website owner liable to that “someone else”. It is likely to depend on the nature of the offending content, the cause(s) of action to which publication may give rise and the possible defences to those causes of action. So, for example, causes of action could include defamation, breach of copyright, invasion of privacy or breach of confidence. Also potentially relevant in some cases will be whether the website owner added the RSS feed to its site itself, or allowed site users to add an RSS feed (as is now possible with some web services).

He doesn't see the decision as a bad thing, more about the web 'growing up', and suggests that aggregators/website owners "seek warranties and/or indemnities from the feed providers" — I just can't see this happening until there's a US case.

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