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Friday, May 20, 2005

3 Easy Ways Not To Get Sued Becos Of Your Blog

The stats have cooled almost down to their normal numbers after being Miyagi-ed, but I've noticed an increase in the number of returning visitors. [ie, people who read my blog more than once] Since I haven't made any new friends lately, I assume the returning ones are returning because they like my writing or my art. Or the better blogs like mrbrown and Xiaxue haven't updated. :p

Welcome one, welcome all.

Though talking about blogs, there's been a fair talk about blogs in the news lately hor? First, that scholar gets into trouble for racist remarks, then the Acid Flask incident. [which frankly raises a few question marks in my mind.]

OOPS! Shouldn't have said that! What if A*Star decides to sue me??? :p

Anyway, after reporting rather late on the issue, and interviewing and misquoting a few famous bloggers, the rules are out on the local blogosphere:

Blogs are NOT private space, since their contents are posted on the Internet.

You CAN be sued, if you defame someone in your blog.

So how will you know whether you will get in trouble for what you write in your blog? Here are the following guidelines:

No defamatory or insulting statements

So if you're really pissed off at a colleague at work, for eg, you cannot write:

"XYZ is such a blardy b***h! Always teah teah [how the heck do you spell that word in English???] the guys! Buay tahan her!"

But you CAN write:

"I have observed certain instances where XYZ acts in a manner such that one can only draw the conclusion that she is using her feminine charms to gain unfair favours with the men in the office. I find this behaviour unbecoming on her part."

What's the diff? [Besides the more powerful England in the 2nd sentence?] The first sentence, you're making an outright insulting remark about the person. In the 2nd, you are describing an eyewitness account of XYZ's behaviour in the office, and expressing a personal opinion. :p

From this, we can also deduce that

No using the real names of people or companies

Face it, you never know who is going to google you and find your blog and read the above unflattering statement about herself. So use common sense here, and do not use your real name on the Internet, and do not name friends, colleagues, clients, bosses etc.

Eg, do not write:

"That shi Shi Jia Ming, Marketing director of Alias Pte Ltd always like to tell lies about people! Xian Hua always tell me like that one!"

Wrong, wrong, wrong. What if Jane Shi Jia Ming goes on an ego trip and decides to Google herself, and the first thing she sees is your blog? Instead, write:

"It has been noticed that SJM, who works in the marketing dept at A***s Pte Ltd, usually tells untruths about her colleagues."

Again, your opinion on Jia Ming's honesty is collaborated by other people, who shall remain unknown, or even fictional.

Observe the Xiaxue Doctrine
But face it,most of us non-legal eagles won't know exactly what is potentially defamatory. [The worst among us would think defaming is a way of making a celebrity less famous] Thus, for the ordinary people, From the Singapore Angle has kindly come up with the Xiaxue doctrine.

The Xiaxue doctrine was inspired from a quote from Xiaxue in ST:

"I know the people whom I criticise are not going to come after me and sue me. I don't write about companies and they are the ones that will sue."

Therefore, the Xiaxue doctrine:

Only write about people whom you know do not have the time, money or energy to sue you for what you've written.

So following the Xiaxue Doctrine, you must make sure your blog doesn't criticise:

1) The Lee clan, including Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong. [Don't make fun of LKY's wife either. Don't forget she was also trained as a lawyer]

2) Anyone in government. [excluding, possibly, opposition parties]

3) A*Star and any other government agency. [So now, my future employers have to be known as Mr Moe. (^^!)]

4) Any government-linked or related company. This includes Singtel, Temasek Holdings [remember who runs Temasek Holdings and look at no. 1], and so on.

So as a guideline:

1) Write everything in cheem English
2) Always claim you or someone saw the act being done
3) Always use fake names
4) Stay away from anyone in government

Hope this helps! If not, you can always google up some lawyers.......


kein said...

Or you can simply migrate off SG and before starting the flame :)

I'm one of the returning readers after the initial peek @ anyway ;p Cheers.

Aki Tan said...

Won't work, Acid Flask got sued while he was in the US. :p There's no way you can run from the long reaches of the govt... save setting up base in a space station perhaps... :p

kein said...

Re-read my words closely.. migrate la! ;p grins. Can't do anything if you're not an SG citizen can they?

acwt said...

I'm new *waves*
sue...never knew we can be sue for blogging... some bloody democary of internet... there goes all my studies down the drain....

Aki Tan said...

kein: You never know... As I said, the singaporean govt has some pretty long arms, and has sued other non-singaporeans for alleged defamation... And anyway, it's not something I would want to test out... :p

Anonymous said...

haha nice article.. you have been well-schooled in the arts of defamation :)

i just finished an exam on it actually so if anyone needs unprofessional pro bono help you can look me up.

Anonymous said...

Nice read, but don't you think you will get sued by inferring Nepotism by the Lee Clan with Rule no. 4?

Anonymous said...

I doubt so... The relevant personnel mentioned forth in this non-existent post have filed suits in third party countries: Immunity cannot be ensured if you are not going to back up your words.

Aki Tan said...

Er........ Let's just not let anyone of the above know that this post exists on this blog, ya? A lot easier that way... :p