Brattleboro, Vt. - When Christopher Grotke answered a late-night knock on the door, he did not expect to find the deputy sheriff on his doorstep serving notice that he was being sued. Nor was he prepared for the charge: libel.
Someone had posted a comment on his citizen-journalism Web site, iBrattleboro.com, stating that a woman in Brattleboro, Vt., was having an extramarital affair. The accused woman then sued Grotke and his Web site co-founder for failing to edit or delete the comment.
The blogging community increasingly is subject to lawsuits and threats of legal action running the gamut from subpoenas to cease-and-desist notices.
Since blogging became popular in about 2004, there have been 159 civil and criminal court actions involving bloggers, according to the nonprofit Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) in New York. Seven cases have resulted in verdicts against bloggers, with cumulative penalties totaling $18.5 million. Many more legal actions never result in trial.
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