March 12, 2012
Generally, that enormous reach and exposure is a good thing. At times however, it can lead to headaches. On a daily basis, we see examples of individuals and small organizations encountering legal problems as a result of their online content and activities.
Fraud, claims of intellectual property rights violations, defamation, and violations of privacy are only a few of the most common examples of the range of legal problems faced by small organizations and individuals as they make use of the Internet.
When they encounter these online legal difficulties, little guys frequently do not know where to turn for support, and they often lack the resources to defend themselves effectively.
Now there is a network of experts that can help.
Two organizations, Chilling Effects (www.chillingeffects.org) and the Online Media Legal Network (www.omln.org), provide free and low cost assistance for individuals and small organizations facing legal problems arising from their online activities.
Chilling Effects is a project developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several academic institutions.
It invites people who have encountered online legal problems to contact Chilling Effects to have those problems analyzed and explained by a community of law school faculty and law students.
Chilling Effects also serves as a gateway to the Online Media Legal Network, a community of lawyers who make their services available on a pro bono or reduced fee basis to help people to resolve their online legal issues.
Collectively, Chilling Effects and the Online Media Legal Network provide readily accessible and affordable information and expertise which can be tapped by small groups and individuals, enabling them to defend their online rights and interests more effectively than they could in the past.
Now for example, if you receive a cease and desist letter or other formal legal challenge as a result of your online activities, you can turn quickly and easily to Chilling Effects and the Online Media Legal network for prompt assistance.
No matter what sort of legal problem arises from your Internet presence, you have a place to turn for guidance.
By helping individual Internet users to understand and to protect their online interests, Chilling Effects and the Online Media Legal Network perform an essential service for the entire online community.
As they help to level the digital playing field, assisting small Internet users to respond to legal challenges presented by big companies, criminals, and governments, they offer a significant contribution to making the Internet a safer and more productive environment for small users.
Effective legal assistance to help individual members of the global Internet community to understand and defend their legal rights is essential to the creation of a dynamic and healthy online environment.