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CMPLAW-L  July 1997

CMPLAW-L July 1997

Subject:

Regulation of Chat Halls and Bulliten Boards

From:

Emily Christensen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Internet and Computer Law Association <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 28 Jul 1997 17:24:00 PDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (48 lines)

Here's a request for info re: legal consequences of chat hall/bulliten
board regulation.

I am currently involved with a group creating a chat hall (or) bulliten
board on the World Wide Web. As the "owner" (so to speak) of the site is
donating the space to create it, I am particularly concerned about the
legal aspect of the project. Hopefully someone will be able to help me
with this or direct me to informative resources.

Some background:

The reason we are creating this site is we all have one thing in common:
we love to argue, especially about politics (what we don't have in
common is our political convictions, which range from reactionary to
radical). We have found that there are great places to chat on the
internet about politics, however most sites for this purpose are flawed.
One type of hall is completely unregulated, which is great for
freewheeling discussion but also tends to foster libel and threats which
disrupt said discussion....the other type of hall is over-regulated,
which inhibts the free expression of ideas. We are looking for a happy
medium, a place where conservatives and liberals alike can jab at each
other at will without being threatened or libeled.

This is where I have concerns about legal issues. We are thinking of
designing the site so that people who engage in libelous or threatening
behavior can be blocked for using the site. We don't intend to censor
anything which is said--for example profanity or "insensitive"
comments--but we do want to have the option of blocking a user who has
engaged in libel or threats (one warning will be issued before the user
is blocked). I have questions about whether or not this will make us
liable for everything else that is posted in the site, or whether we
could be sued for censorship over blocking someone (or not blocking
someone, whatever the case may be).

This of course will be outlined in a user agreement which has to be
"signed" before the user can enter the hall.

I understand this is a relitively new area of the law, and as such I
have found very little information about it, even, ironically, on the
internet. I would really appreciate anything you all could add to the
subject.

Thanks in advance,

Emily Christensen

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