Friday, October 03, 2014

Could hyperlinks and comments present bloggers with a child pornography risk?

Do webmasters or bloggers have to become concerned about legal liability for incidental distribution of child pornography?
It would seem that it is possible.  If a blogger or web author gave a direct link to a site that he knew contained images or videos of child pornography (or at least to a specific URL) that would sound like it could be “distribution”.  (Not for indirect links from the site though, which the blogger would have no control over.)   If a blogger moderates comments and approves a comment containing child pornography, that would sound like legal distribution.
The latter sounds pretty unlikely in practice.  Most bloggers use services to eliminate spam comments, which would probably catch these.  And relatively few comments actually have embedded images or videos, although this is possible.   The main risk might come from a very long comment that slipped through the filters and that the blog owner didn’t read, and that actually contained an illegal image.
Where a more serious practical problem can occur would be with anti-social or destructive comments, like though encountering joining terror groups or even instructing into how to make crude weapons.  Although none of this would have fallen within the scope of COPA as originally defined, it certainly sounds “harmful to minors” in a practical sense.
All of this sounds like it could be of concern to forum moderators, though. 

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