Libel, Defamation and You

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Libel, Defamation and You

Postby sp762 on Wed Jan 12, 2011 9:58 am

Hello all,

In the light of recent threats of legal action against this site, we've decided to provide some clarification on the thorny issue of libel and defamation, as well as who is responsible for what. This isn't about free speech or setting rules, it's about helping you to understand that, even on the internet, there might be consequences. We are providing this information to you on an unofficial basis to try and help. However, it is not a substitute for obtaining proper legal guidance.

When posting reviews of trainsimming content, be it free or payware, or even your own opinion on something related, you need to be very conscious of the laws against libel and defamation, plus how they apply to you. The law holds you personally responsible for what you say or post on the forum. If you post something defamatory or libellous - we can be compelled to hand over your real name and personal details to the courts.

Just so we are clear, when posting your views on another person's work (payware or otherwise) you need be very sure that:

a) The statement is true - this means you need to provide evidence that supports the statement.
b) The statement is reasonably asserted - this means that any person with the same evidence could draw a similar conclusion.
c) The statement will not cause actual loss to the author - this means that in the case of payware, your opinion should not lead people not to buy the product based solely on your opinion, or
d) The statement will not cause another person to think worse of the author - your views should not reflect on the character of the individual. (i.e. You shouldn;t say "Joe Bloggs is a bum.")

If you are going to point out a deficiency in a model or route, you need to provide enough evidence to prove that you are not talking out of your hat.

So if it's a station model that you think is wrong, provide a photo or two that are relevant and prove your point, so that people can reach an opinion on their own.

Even if your case is iron clad, and you are 1000% correct, you can still fall foul of parts (c) and (d). For this reason, you need to be very clear in your wording.

If you say that Joe Bloggs makes rubbish products and sells them to unsuspecting fools - then even if you can prove it to be true, you can still be sued for libel.

You need to be very clear when posting that your views are your opinion and not matters of fact.

So the comment "In my opinion, Joe Bloggs makes rubbish products and sells them to unsuspecting fools" is not libellous (but still likely to cause a fight.)

Don't forget that this is railway stuff, so even if every photo you have seen says that a Black Five was never paired with a SR King Arthur tender, the day you state it as an absolute fact is the day someone publishes a photo of that very thing. It's always better to err on the side of caution - for example "All the photos I have seen of a Black Five have never included a King Arthur tender" rather than "The Black Five never ran with a King Arthur tender."

So - just to restate the issues:

1. This site does not condone libel or any form of defamation.
2. We cannot and will not protect those who break the law.
3. Your posts are your responsibility - don not rely on the site to edit them or make them safe for public consumption.
4. if you are going to say something that someone else might consider defamatory, please make sure that:

a. You have all the facts, and include them in your post so that we can all see what you mean.
b. You couch your argument in a way that minimises your risk of personal legal action, clearly stating facts and asserting opinions.
c. You talk about the product, not the author.

5. Finally, if you really can't find anything nice to say, please consider saying nothing at all.

UKTS has always provided a place where people can state their opinions - and we have no intention of moving away from that position. We will defend the your right to freedom of speech - but if you choose to pursue that freedom carelessly, it's at your own risk.

You can find more detail on defamation, libel and our attitude to it here: viewtopic.php?f=168&t=67048

In closing - please don't bother trying to read between the lines of this statement. It's provided as a warning, a pointer to what could happen to you if you don't think before you post. There's no hidden agenda, really!

Comments and abuse, as usual, via PM please.

Kind Regards,

Mike
(on behalf of the moderation team and site owners.)
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sp762
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