Since 2006 and the explosion of UGC on sites like YouTube, content uploaded by users has become invaluable for journalists.
A great example of the importance of UGC for main-stream media was the immediate aftermath of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport bombing earlier this year. Major news networks like Sky and BBC used the footage in their main programme coverage.
The Guardian’s Comment Is Free (CIF) offers a platform for journalists and guest posters to publish content and invite comment and discussion on particular issues.
However, the nature of the news and views site has meant it can be open to the possibility of libelous or defamatory comments being left. For example the comments made on Kieran Yates’s post which recommends a rap song with anti-semitic lyrics.
As journalists, we need to remember that the same legal rules apply to online content as with print and broadcast material. Here are some key things to consider regarding the internet and the law in the UK for those providing services based on UGC:
•copyright issues in relation to UGC and any legislative exemptions which may be available
•the ‘mere conduit’ and ‘hosting’ defences
•legal issues relating to offensive/defamatory/illegal content, minors and the likelihood of action by authorities.
For more information on UGC and the law check out this free eBook.
By Lucy Hewitt