... or incur new "exemplary damages" for editorial content not subject to site owner control.
Apparently, users writing news material in Britain are liable under newest crime and courts bill presently in the House of Commons.
From the Guardian U.K.:
Bloggers could face high fines for libel under the new Leveson deal with exemplary damages imposed if they don't sign up to the new regulator, it was claimed on Tuesday.Not at risk are readers posting comments. Publishers of scientific journals, student publications and not-for-profit community newspapers would also be exempt.
Under the crime and courts bill in the Commons on Monday night, the definition of "relevant" bloggers or websites includes any that generate news material where there is an editorial structure giving someone control over publication.
The chief executive at the Index on Censorship, Kirsty Hughes delivered a comment of her own in which she said:
... it was a "sad day" for British democracy. "This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use," she said.Penalties imposed by courts in the form of exemplary damages could target anyone remaining outside the regulator. Besides court costs, those charges could be upward of thousands of pounds, which in all likelihood, would be enough to shut most sites down.
She said she feared thousands of websites could fall under the definition of a "relevant publisher" in clause 29.
Hughes said: "Bloggers could find themselves subject to exemplary damages, due to the fact that they were not part of a regulator that was not intended for them in the first place."
Not at all familiar with British law, but I'm pretty sure Kos could incur damages or be shut down just over what I'm writing right now if Daily Kos was based in Britain.
Some site owners are in open rebellion over this. A writer for the Guido Fawkes Political Blog doesn't fall into the category of bloggers subject to the law. Of course, he believes this because his servers are all based in the U.S.
"I don't see I should join a regulator. This country has had a free press for the last 300 years, that has been irreverent and rude as my website is and holding public officials to account. We as a matter of principle will be opposing any regulator especially one set up and accountable to politicians we write about every day," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.Even the editor-in-chief at the Huffington Post, Carla Buzasi told the BBC:
I can't imagine any politician has had this discussion because they have rushed this through so quickly.Indeed.
"It does worry me to a certain extent. Someone said this is a carrot and stick approach. There doesn't seem to be too much of a carrot here."
British newspapers and blog operators vigorously oppose the bill, saying it could violate the European Convention on human rights, which regularly promotes the principles of free speech. During the debate over this bill in the House of Lords campaigners said that even local newspapers could be subject to penalties
The applicable "Leveson regulations" in the "crimes and courts bill" were fiercely debated last Monday night, with the culture secretary, Maria Miller, claiming that the publisher would need to meet three criteria because of :
• whether the publication is publishing news-related material in the course of a business
• whether their material is written by a range of authors
• whether that material is subject to editorial control
Miller said the "one-man band or a single blogger" would not be affected by the legislation because of the definition of "relevant publisher" in relation to exemplary damages.
Some bloggers aren't worried. Sunny Hundal, the editor of the Liberal Conspiracy Blog commented on the matter:
"There's a danger we miss the wood for the trees, as bloggers can already face big fines for libel. I'm fairly confident the eventual body will differentiate between Guardian.co.uk and independent bloggers. Trying to regulate the latter, even Leveson admitted in his final report, would be a step too far.Nevertheless, I can't see any move like this can bode well for democracy... in any country. Let's hope this law stays on the other side of the pond.
"The key will be to differentiate between huge operations such as Huffington Post and voluntary blogs like Liberal Conspiracy. We should be vigilant but I don't see a cause for panic yet."
Here's some more takes on the law: