The emergence of blogging has sparked an exciting new era of Internet communications. Bloggers contribute to important First Amendment ideals by expanding the marketplace of ideas and performing the watchdog function normally associated with the Fourth Estate. A lot of good activity is taking place in the blogosphere.
However, the news isn’t all good. Existing legal doctrines don’t apply cleanly to blogging, raising the specter that socially beneficial and well-intentioned decisions by bloggers will produce unexpected and adverse legal consequences. Bloggers need to get smarter about these possible consequences, but judges can mitigate the harshest consequences by using their discretion to produce sensible and nonpunitive results.