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IMC Legal

There is a imc-legal list with closed archives on which legal issues facing Indymedia centres can be discussed. This is a place where the experiences from that list can be made public in order that lessons can be learnt from past experiences.


This is somewhere where frequently asked legal questions can be listed. Please don't hesitate to add questions even if you don't know the answers!

Death Threats

Somemetimes death theats are posted to Indymedia web sites... What should local IMCs do when this happens? (It would be great if someone could write an answer here for this smile

Posting of Personal Details

This issue of what to do when personal details like home address and phone numbers are posted to IMC sites is one that comes up often and perhaps there could be some guidelines here about this...?

Some IMCs like Galiza require that all content posted to the site complies with the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL) whereas many others reference the Open Content License (OCL). The Open Content web site has now been shut (but past versions are available via the wayback machine) and it's creator recommends that people use a Creative Commons license instead. Italy IMC uses this note: "\xA9opyright :: Independent Media Center. All content is under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0". None of the above are FreeSoftware licences.

The FreeDistro page has more notes and thoughts on the issues of copyright and the reuse of content on Indymedia and there is also a ImcUkCopyleft page.

There was a discussion about the licence for this wiki on imc-docs in August and September 2005.

Another discussion started in December 2005 on imc-tech and continued in January 2006.

Libel and Defamation

It's not so much that I have answers to this, as much as I just thought libel is an issue we should start adding material on.

The DC IMC recently hosted a workshop on libel that was informative and helpful.

If we're lucky, an Indymedia Center website would get some safe harbor protections that would limit the liability for publishing libelous material. However, there isn't enough case law to answer one way or the other if we could assume this protection. Further, even if we fell under that protection, we still would be required to remove libelous material if notified about it.

If outside DMCA protection, when you publish material you're liable for it, even if your group didn't author it. For example, if your IMC publishes a newspaper and prints a letter to the editor w/libel, you absolutely could face a potential lawsuit and damages.

There is wider lattitude for material covering public officials, media figures, etc.

The workshop was recorded, and I'll add the link to it once the audio group finishes it and posts it online. Hopefully others will add to this section.

btw: libel laws very from nation to nation. libel and slander are both forms of defamation. libel=written, slander=spoken.

Here is a reasonably good guide to defamation under UK law. There was some discussion in Oct. 03 about this on on the lists, too, which was linked to the wiki page.

FBI Server Seizure

The main reference document on this is the global FBI page there is also the AhimsaOverview and related wiki pages.

AhimsaUkLegal is a page that has UK legal info on it.

Case Collection

Cases of repression against imc's and imc activists are collected here: . This will be a page linked from the global page once it is ready, and will probably replace the FBI server seizure page. Volunteers for this are needed!

External Resources

  • EFF - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was created to defend our rights to think, speak, and share our ideas, thoughts, and needs using new technologies, such as the Internet and the World Wide Web.

  • Chiling Effects Clearinghouse - Do you know your online rights? Have you received a letter asking you to remove information from a Web site or to stop engaging in an activity? Are you concerned about liability for information that someone else posted to your online forum? If so, this site is for you.

Revision History

  • -- ChrisC - 15 Nov 2003 - Page created
  • -- John W - 27 Feb 2004 - Started adding a bit under libel
  • -- Jack C - 1 Apr 2004 - Minor correction
  • -- GarconDuMonde - 12 Apr 2004 - uk libel links
  • -- AnNa - 21 Aug 2005 - added case collection
  • -- SerpicO - 20 Oct 2006 added Language Toolbar
Topic revision: r15 - 20 Oct 2006, SerpicO
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