Boston.com's Terms of Service

Contract Teardown

Boston.com is an advertising-supported, standalone news platform. With more than six million visitors per month, Boston.com’s site has a ton of user-generated content and comments. While online platforms want user-generated content, they do not want the liability that may come with it. Boston.com’s Terms of Service is the contract that addresses that issue. In this episode of Contract Teardown, contract attorney and legal industry commentator Colin Levy shows how to draft a contract for an internet media company so they can educate their users and avoid liability. And since user-generated content can create so many problems, attorney Levy reviews user expectation, enforceability of terms, and policing of user forums.

Questions in this episode

  1. Why use plain language versus legalese?
  2. How to deal with user-generated content?
  3. Who is responsible for damage from external links?
  4. When should you put the onus on the user?
  5. Why is well thought out drafting important?

K-Notes: Terms of Service from Boston.com Download Now

Terms of Service as Click-Through

Almost all websites have a Terms Of Service agreement that governs what users can and cannot do on the site.  Boston.com’s Terms of Service covers a platform that has “infotainment,” which is a mix of some news, some entertainment, and a “boatload of links” to other sites, attorney Levy explains.

Boston.com’s Terms of Service was last updated June 3, 2019 and is more than 2,500 words, or about seven pages. If it is like most terms of service on the internet, it is read by very few of the users. Users often agree to the terms of service agreement without realizing they have done so.

"It's important for users to recognize the fact that when they visit the website, or simply by using the website, they are agreeing to these terms." Colin Levy

The Boston.com Ecosystem

Starting with the Rules and Definitions, Attorney Levy explains that it is important for users to understand that these terms and conditions also apply to several other sites in the same Boston.com “ecosystem,” including BostonGlobe.com, LoveLetters.boston.com, or RealEstate.boston.com.

The terms also apply to users using Boston.com RSS feeds, or any other API or downloads from the platform. 

While the language in this section is relatively straightforward and designed for user readability, attorney Levy cautions contract drafters to include everything they need to in this section. For example, if your client owns several other websites and wants to cover them from the outset,  contract language should encompass all those other properties.

Legalese or Common Language in User Generated Content?

Section 3 states the terms of user-generated content and is a mix of legalese language and everyday language.

The first paragraph uses more formal legal language and states that you “shall not publish any libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, abusive, or otherwise illegal material.”  However, the next paragraph uses more common language stating, “Be courteous,” “Use respectful language,” and “The online community flourishes only when our Members feel welcome and safe.”

"If they really wanted to enforce this language, particularly around being abusive, 95% of these comments that exist on any site like this would be gone." Colin Levy

Simple language adds a human quality to the document. But, when users comment and disagree on their posts, they often feel the need to be more aggressive and critical.

Even though the terms state aggressive, defamatory, and abusive language is not allowed, attorney Levy guarantees there are instances where this is the case. Attorney Levy questions whether or how often Boston.com, or any other site with user generated content, enforces this provision.

Violent User Comments 

If your comments contain threats of violence, the Terms of Service state that Boston.com may investigate and may contact law enforcement.

Attorney Levy explains that if someone threatens to burn down a house at a specific address or beat someone to a pulp, those actions should spark more than just moderation of taking down the post and likely should cause an investigation.

But Boston.com has left themselves a lot of wiggle room as to how strictly they will enforce this. The terms say they “may” not “must” investigate or report the incident. And, there is no definition of precisely what a threat is.

There is a line between specificity and vagueness and sometimes being vague can help you and sometimes it can hurt you. -Colin Levy #ContractTeardown Click To Tweet

Attorney Levy explains there is a line in contract drafting between vagueness and specificity. Sometimes vagueness can hurt you, and sometimes it can help. Here, the vagueness helps Boston.com when it comes to enforcement.

Do You Really Have to Disclose a Conflict of Interest?

Continuing with vague language, the Terms of Service state you must disclose conflicts of interest, and you are not allowed to impersonate another user or a Boston.com staff member by choosing a similar screen name.

Attorney Levy believes that Boston.com does not want any employees to get on the site and start bashing other users. Nor do they want members of a political campaign impersonating another user to post negative comments against their opponents.

They want you to be transparent, sort of, says attorney Levy. He adds that this is not the best drafting language and believes Boston.com implicitly acknowledges that not everyone is reading this document.

Beware of the Links

Boston.com’s stories, articles, and content link to thousands of sites on the internet like advertisers, citations, and resources.

If linking to any of these sites causes you any problems, from malware to offensive language, Boston.com wants you to be aware that in Section 4 they are not responsible and are disclaiming all liability.

Attorney Levy also believes this section is awkwardly and poorly drafted by including the phrase “World Wide Web Internets sites” since “World Wide Web” and “Internet” are the same thing.

User Warrants and Indemnifies Boston.com

Section 5 has the user warrant that they will not “violate, plagiarize, or infringe upon the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, or other personal proprietary rights.”

But if the user does violate any of those terms, they agree to indemnify Boston.com from the result of those actions.

Attorney Levy states that he would be hard-pressed to name a specific example where something like this was enforced in a court of law. However, if the indemnification lawsuit ends up in court, Boston.com reserves the right to take over the suit at their discretion and their own expense.

Don’t Mix Warranties and Disclaimers

Attorney Levy believes that Boston.com  organized and drafted Section 5.2 of the Representation and Warranty Section poorly.

The first part states that Boston.com does not endorse the accuracy of any of the user content.


5.2

Boston.com does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other information displayed, uploaded, or distributed through the Services by any user, information provider or any other person or entity. You acknowledge that any reliance upon any such opinion, advice, statement, memorandum, or information shall be at your sole risk. THE SERVICES AND ALL DOWNLOADABLE SOFTWARE ARE DISTRIBUTED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF TITLE OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. YOU HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT USE OF THE SERVICES IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK.

 

But, the second half of 5.2 is a fairly standard disclaimer. Boston.com states in all caps that their services and software are “as is” without any warranties of any kind.

This contract drafting construction put a warranty and disclaimer in the same paragraph, and it would be more logical to have them separated.

Two Audiences for a Terms of Service

Attorney Levy agrees that internet news media platforms want user-generated content but they also need to limit their liability with careful and well-thought-out contract drafting.

As the contract drafter, you should make sure your client expresses an interest in what users post on the website. However, the platform needs to state that it cannot control everything, and it is the responsibility of the user to watch what they say. Put the onus on the user.

If the platform links to outside sites,  you should not take more responsibility than needed. The contract language should make clear that you are only responsible for what is on your sites. You are not responsible for what is on other sites or any damage from those links.

Even though you know that practically no one reads terms of service, attorney Levy cautions against the temptation to be lazy in the drafting of these documents. They will be read in court if a lawsuit comes up. Drafting not only for the users, but also for potential court situations is good forethought.

Online media companies are a huge and growing industry. These issues do come up and media companies get sued. A well-drafted Terms of Service agreement can help your online media clients if or when there is a lawsuit. Thoughtful contract drafting now can have huge dividends for your client in the future.

K-Notes: Terms of Service from Boston.com Download Now

Show Notes

THE CONTRACT: Boston.com’s Terms of Service

THE GUEST: Colin S. Levy has focused his career on practicing where business, technology, and the law meet. Being in that unique space means that he needs to be both entrepreneurial and collaborative, which he loves being. Colin is also a leading thinker in the areas of legal technology and legal innovation and operates a website devoted to both topics at www.colinslevy.com.

THE HOST: Mike Whelan is the author of Lawyer Forward: Finding Your Place in the Future of Law and host of the Lawyer Forward community. Learn more about his work for attorneys at www.lawyerforward.com.

If you are interested in being a guest on Contract Teardown, please email us at community@lawinsider.com.

Transcript

Colin Levy [00:00:00] If they really wanted to enforce this language, particularly around being abusive, 94, 95 percent of the comments that would exist on any site like this would be gone. 

Intro Voice [00:00:11] Welcome to the Contract Teardown Show from Law Insider, where legal experts tear down contracts from some of the most well-known companies and high profile executives around the world. 

Mike Whelan [00:00:24] In this episode, contracts attorney and legal industry commentator Colin Levy breaks down Boston.com’s terms of service. Colin talks through how a drafting attorney balances educating online users with avoiding liability. Colin addresses the expectations of users enforceability of terms and policing of forums. Stumbling blocks abound with user generated content. So let’s tear it down. 

Mike Whelan [00:00:50] Hey, everybody, welcome to the contract tear down show from Law Insider, I’m Mike Whelen. On the show we hang out with really smart people like my friend over here, Colin Levy, who tear down contracts. They tell us what they like, what they don’t like. How are you today, Colin? 

Colin Levy [00:01:07] I’m well, how are you? 

Mike Whelan [00:01:08] Pretty good. So, guys, today, the contract that we are talking through, the document that we’re talking through is this it’s the terms of service from Boston.com, a news website. And we’ll talk through sort of the structure of this, the big picture a little bit, but more getting into different clauses and the kind of language that is necessary and not necessary. So, Colin, tell me about this particular document, which is a lawyer going to see it? Why does it matter? Why do they care to get this thing right? 

Colin Levy [00:01:36] Sure. So most, if not all websites have a terms of use that essentially governs what users can and can’t do on the site. This particular set of terms of use that we’re going to go through today is for sites that offer usually a mix of kind of infotainment type stuff. So some news and entertainment stuff and a boatload of links, other sites. 

Mike Whelan [00:02:00] Got it. And your background a little bit. I know that you’re in-house and have been in-house. What’s what’s your background? What brings you to this particular site? Why why is your brain wrapped up in the terms of service document? 

Colin Levy [00:02:11] So I operate my own blog, I have visited Boston.com’s site, I frequently visit because it’s just sort of a fun news site for someone like me who’s around Boston. My background is in contracts and in commercial transactions. So documents like this one are ones that are familiar to me. And I think it’s important for users to recognize the fact that when they visit a website by simply using the website, they’re agreeing to these terms or terms like them. 

Mike Whelan [00:02:43] Right. So this thing is written for consumers, right? It’s on the website for consumers who are on there. It’s one of those things that we all agree to, but we don’t realize that we agreed to it because we’re just scrolling. So we’ll talk about some of that and how if you’re the drafter, if you’re the attorney in this case for Boston.com, how to keep Boston.com out of trouble and make sure that the users are also satisfied. Let’s start with the very beginning. Let’s start with one the general rules and definitions. And in this, Colin talks about if you’re choosing Boston.com or the different properties at Boston.com and any of the features, including but not limited to RSS, API software and other downloads, you’ll be agreeing to abide by all the terms and conditions of these terms and services. What about this language? Do you like what don’t you like? What raises your your cackles on this one? 

Colin Levy [00:03:31] So starting off, I think it’s important to note that these terms apply not just to this boston.com website, but to a whole bunch of other sites that you may or may not have been aware of that are part of the same ecosystem as listed here, Boston, Boston Globe, dot com love letters, dot Boston Common real estate up off the top. And sometimes those sites may not necessarily be described as separate sites, but they are nevertheless different sites as defined here. So that’s something to be aware. The other thing that I think is interesting here is that notes in the middle part of the paragraph that features of these sites, including not limited to RSS, API software or other downloads. Now, really what that’s talking about is if you have this as part of a aggregated news feed through RSS or through some other interface using an API, you have to abide by these terms as well. And not only do you have to abide by them, but also any users that visit that get content through perhaps your aggregator that contains these these false information, you also have to abide by these terms. So it’s kind of broad. It’s pretty typical, but it’s something for certainly users to be aware of. And for the I would say for the drafter, it’s important here to make sure that the language encompasses all that you want these terms to cover because it’s important and you want to make sure that those if you own a whole bunch of different properties, but you want them to all abide by the same set of terms. Important to note that at the outset. And I think one thing that I think is pretty that I can appreciate is drafter, that this language is pretty, pretty straightforward as far as contract drafting language can go. So evidently it is really kind of directed at readability for the user, although when we go to other sections, I’ll point out some things or make it less so well. 

Mike Whelan [00:05:46] And I was thinking about the real Brier patch with some kind of content driven website. A media Web site is people, right? It’s 20, 20. Everybody super wound up. We just have this election and everybody’s at home being angry about whatever. In three, they talk about user generated content and a bunch of rules for how users should behave themselves. It’s interesting because they do legalize, right. They talk about not uploading, you know, anything libelous, defamatory, which I guarantee you. Anyone commenting on the Internet has no idea what those words mean because they use it wrong all the time, but nothing obscene, pornographic, abusive. But then it gets into like really common man language use respectful language. Let’s talk about the community. What about this is do you think that the approach to legalize is better or do you prefer the language that’s talking to the average Joe? Should they both be in the same section? What do you think? 

Colin Levy [00:06:41] So that’s a really interesting question, I you know, I tend to be of someone who who appreciates using plain language, so sort of the can Ken Adam’s style of contraact crafting. So I think that the second paragraph here is is useful. I think it kind of has a human quality to it. And I think that that is something that is useful with regards to the first paragraph. I mean, you know, I think we all we all get it that when you are on a website and you’re in your lodge comment, you may not agree with something else. That said, I feel the need to want to be more aggressive or more critical of what is said. So, you know, yeah, they’re saying that you shouldn’t be defamatory, obscene, abusive. But I will guarantee and I don’t guarantee anything. There are definitely instances on sites like Boston and other areas where that is definitely the case, which is to say that though they do put this in and say you cannot do this as to whether they actually enforce that or not. Know the little bit of an open question, because I think there is a degree of moderation that’s involved. But at the same time, if they really wanted to enforce this language optically around being abusive ninety four ninety five percent of the comments that would exist on any site like this would be gone. 

Mike Whelan [00:08:11] Right. There’d be no more comments anymore. And they continue in that section to say debate, but don’t attack. And then, you know, talk about, again, the value of community and discussion. But then again, there’s you know, it says if your attack contains a threat of violence or may incite violence, we’re going to report you. And there was a case I heard about recently that the FBI is they did this right. There was a media site that a guy went on and he talked about death threats for the supporters of the candidate on the other side. And, you know, the FBI’s going after. They also point out that you can’t impersonate another user or boston.com staff member by using a similar screen name. And then this sentence, which I don’t even know what this means, you must disclose conflicts of interest. 

Colin Levy [00:08:56] So there’s a lot to be said here, I think, first of all, around the debating and don’t attack, I mean, good. OK, that’s a nice thing to say, but that’s not going to be the case. However, you know, certainly, especially in this type of superheated environment, violence threatens to incite violence, a direct threat to someone else that I’m going to burn down your house at this address and and beat to a pulp or whatever. Yeah, that will definitely I would definitely would spark not just moderation in terms of removing the comment, but from the investigation, because exposure, people’s information and or direct threat against someone that seems actionable is something that would want to be investigated. That being said, I think there’s a lot of leeway that they have put in here with regards to how strictly they’re going to enforce it. 

Mike Whelan [00:09:58] Well, and I wanted to ask you on that. I’m assuming that that kind of liability for threats exists, whether Boston.com wrote this thing or not. Right. So it’s maybe it’s more about notis than it is about creating some kind of right for them to go and do this thing. And and with that, I sort of feel like if if somebody were to to engage in this kind of behavior, does it create a responsibility on Boston.com to go report these things? Like maybe this language is a bit evasive because otherwise Boston.com is saying we got this will be the police of the Internet threats. 

Colin Levy [00:10:36] That’s exactly right. So there is sort of there is a line when you’re drafting any type of agreement between specificity and vagueness and sometimes being vague can help you and sometimes it can hurt you. In this case, it helps because they’re saying, you know, debate don’t attack if you’re attacked, contains a threat of violence, may incite violence. We may report it doesn’t say they will report it. It also doesn’t define exactly what that threat of violence may be or what exactly qualify as inciting violence. So it’s kind of leaving the door open saying, all right, well, we’re going to be looking at what you’re saying. We may do something about it, but we’re not putting any limits on us to do so. So they’re kind of getting themselves out of being directly liable for that type of behavior, but at the same time protect themselves by saying, yeah, we’re going to be doing our best, but our best may not always be good enough. And I would. And that’s a smart move on their part that that kind of protects them against unwarranted, I would say, degrees of liability on their part, but at the same time does alert users that there is a line. It just doesn’t define what that line is. 

Mike Whelan [00:11:48] Right. So don’t be a jerk, but don’t call us if somebody else was a jerk to you. That seems to be any idea what that last line is about, the conflicts of interest thing. I mean, do we really expect people in comments to be like, I hate this other candidate? But just as a side note, I voted for so-and-so in 20 and I really like puppies and this guy has dogs and you know what I mean? How how far do users have some affirmative. Nobody’s reading this thing anyway. You know, very few people are reading this anyway. What does that line about? You have any idea? 

Colin Levy [00:12:16] So that’s very interesting. I think I don’t honestly know what sort of the intent behind it, at least with regards to politics, but in general is as a as an informed, you know, user and a lawyer reading that law. And I think that if you’re trying to you know, perhaps if you’re an employee of both dot com and you’re going on their best fashion, your own company, or you are working directly for someone’s campaign and bashing the other candidate on a forum like this, they don’t want that to happen. And so I think that’s kind of what they’re trying to say here. But again, they’re then saying you must disclose conflicts of interest without actually saying what would happen if you don’t is basically saying, well, all right, we want you to be transparent, but only to a degree. 

Mike Whelan [00:13:09] Yeah, it feels a little bit like version 2.5 didn’t have that sentence and then somebody did something stupid. And so version two point six has it. And nobody can really. 

Colin Levy [00:13:20] That is exactly I think that’s exactly right. I mean, it’s not the best draft. At the same time, they also probably, you know, readily acknowledge implicitly that not everyone is going to be reading this. In fact, anybody who will probably read it today or probably you on. 

Mike Whelan [00:13:37] Hey, everybody, I’m Mike Whelen, I hope you’re enjoying this episode of the Contract Teardown Show real quick. I want to ask you to do me you really a quick favor. Look down below. You’ll see a discount code to join the law insider premium subscription. When you do that, you get access to more content like this. You’ll see webinars, daily tips on contract drafting, not to mention access to the world’s largest database of sample contracts and clauses. It will help you write better contracts faster if you want to do it. Right now, there’s a code below. So get there. Also, if you’re part of a larger team, if you’re in-house or in a law firm, just email us where it’s sales at lawinsider.com will make sure you get a deal as well. Come join us in the community. The code is below. Let’s get back to the show. 

Mike Whelan [00:14:22] But well, let’s go on and talk about something that you mentioned before, which is this access and availability of services. And it links the fact that this site is embedded in the World Wide Web. I mean, they literally say in four point one, the services contain links to other related worldwide Web Internet sites, which is like a sentence I haven’t heard since the 90s. Tell me about this section. What about this is Trigorin you on this one? 

Colin Levy [00:14:48] So, number one, I think it’s odd and interesting that they would directly, literally write out World Wide Web Internet sites because Internet and World Wide Web essentially are the same thing. So, I mean, redundancy has never been, you know, has never been knocked against by by lawyers. 

Mike Whelan [00:15:08] We used to get paid by the word redundancy is a win here. 

Colin Levy [00:15:13] It just seems just just awkwardly drafted and just odd. You know, the second part I would say that I think is important is, is basically they’re just essentially disclaiming all liability for any of the sites that are linked to through Boston. So, you know, it could be anything. And if that site somehow contains information that you find offensive or has malware on it, it hurts your computer or or anything between those two scenarios. They’re not responsible. You need to go after that other Web site. So which brings me back to kind of what the first part we went over at one point, one about them specifically listing their properties. So that comes into play here because they’re basically saying, ah, well, here the problem is we are going to be responsible for. But anything else we’re not going to be responsible for. 

Mike Whelan [00:16:10] So that provision was inclusive. This one’s exclusive. I wonder if this gives them the ability to you know, I’m thinking about if they do a report on some white supremacists, you know, dark inter webs corner. If they put a link into that, does that give them the ability to say, yeah, we don’t know who these people are? And, you know, then you start getting into is that responsible journalism? Is this ethical? But at least if I’m the contract drafter, it sounds like I want to give the employees the freedom to do whatever the heck they want to in terms of assuming liability. Let somebody sort that stuff out later if we want to get in trouble, if we end up getting in trouble. 

Colin Levy [00:16:50] Yes, so it’s kind of basically just saying, ah, well, you know, we got these other sites, you know, whatever they choose to do on those sites, that’s between you and that other sites problem. It’s not our problem. We’re linking to it, you know, for any number of reasons. But those reasons are irrelevant to the fact that we’re not responsible for what we’re looking to prevent. 

Mike Whelan [00:17:11] Well, let’s go to the representations and warranties. This is Section five and looking at five one, it’s giving the consumer this this duty that you are representing, warranting an covenanted that basically you don’t break any of the rules that we talked about before. You don’t, you know, plagiarize infringe upon the rights of a third party. And if you do that stuff, you’re indemnifying and holding harmless Boston.com and all the officers for all the information put out there. Talk to me about this. I’m wondering if this is effective in a situation where somebody has a comment section and they’re empowering people to go put all of this infringing material on there. Can they really with this, just let it go? I’m wondering how effective this indemnification is. 

Colin Levy [00:17:56] So that’s a really good question. I would be hard pressed to name a specific example where something like this was actually enforced in a court of law. However, I think that essentially what they’re going after is saying that you say all that you want, but don’t don’t specifically kind of name anything or use someone’s trademark or whatever in a way that would hurt their company or their brand name. And the likelihood of anyone doing that would be very low anyway, because these big companies, you’re a single person and these big companies have teams of lawyers that are specifically devoted to protecting their IP. So there’s that. The other thing that I think is is interesting to note here is this indemnification where basically they’re saying that should anyone sue us because of your violating of these terms, as asserted by a third party, you’re going to essentially protect us against that suit. However, if we don’t want or don’t like how you’re doing it, we will have will take over the defense in control of of any indemnification and our. You know, at our discretion. So that’s kind of interesting in the sense that they can do that. It’s not uncommon, but I think what’s important for the user to note that is them doing that could be potentially costly for you because you’re the one who has to pay for that cost, not that they can participate in it to their own and pay for it at their expense. But there’s still some degree of liability on your part. So it’s sort of interesting. I don’t think it’s this it’s fairly common for them to have that in here. But again, I don’t think it’s that it doesn’t get enforced that often. 

Mike Whelan [00:20:02] Hmm. And continuing in the representations and warranties, I’m looking at five to there’s a lot of capital letters in there, which is always helpful, but they’re basically saying we don’t endorse the accuracy or reliability of anything that a user posts on here. Again, repeating what they’ve said before, that we’re allowing people to have a forum. But this isn’t us. You know, they’re trying to to claim this platform benefit while not being a platform because they’re a media company. And then there’s all kinds of stuff in capital letters about it being as his basis. No warrantees, express or implied. Do you like this section? Do you think this works? 

Colin Levy [00:20:40] So they’re really doing two things here, and I don’t particularly love the way that they’ve done it here because they’re doing two things. They’re basically saying that we don’t represent a war, you know what they list there, but the same. And they’re also kind of disclaiming a whole bunch of things. And that’s why everything is capital letters, because legally you have to call out that kind of disclaimer. But I think it’s confusing in the sense that it’s under reps and warranties. But there’s no kind of language that this is actually a disclaimer. So it’s a little little bit confusing. If I were drafting it personally, what I would do is, you know, under five after five to where it begins with the capital letters, the I would actually make that a separate paragraph and say, you know, disclaimer. And here’s what we’re disclaiming. Basically, you’re using this as is and we’re not warranting anything other than what we have already said in this in this paragraph, which is basically nothing. So I think that’s that’s important to note here. They kind of match two sections together here, which is which is fine and not altogether necessarily uncommon. But at the same time, me being someone who tends to like things a little more organized and delineated, I think that it would be probably safer for readability and ease of following purposes to separate it out a little bit. 

Mike Whelan [00:22:11] Yeah, I’m sorry. Go ahead. 

Colin Levy [00:22:14] Oh, I was just going to go back to five to five. Want to just correct something that I had said, which is that under the indemnification, it’s actually kind of interesting that they note that actually the they’re right to assume the defense is at their own expense, meaning that if they don’t like the way that you’re defending it, they’ll step in and pay for it themselves, which is somewhat unusual, actually, because usually an indemnification, no matter what happens, the person who has indemnify is the one who has to pay. So here they’re saying, well, if we don’t like what you’re doing, we’re going to we’re going to take it over and we’ll pay for it, which again, points to the fact that it’s likely not that and use that often, because if this were if this were something that came up all the time, it would be very, very 

Mike Whelan [00:23:00] there’d be no Boston anymore. Yeah, well, and it’s straddling this really interesting issue in this moment where, you know, media companies are trying to figure out what kind of protections they have versus what they need to take responsibility for. And for that, you know, I’m kind of thinking of general principles. And I want to get your your feeling on this on the interweb, the World Wide Web, Internet, I think is what they called it. You know, there’s a lot of media production and it seems like the Holy Grail in Web 3.0 or whatever where at that you want a lot of that production to come from users. But there’s an issue with that, that users can be crazy and they’re not under your thumb. You don’t have control over them. So you’ve got this kind of weird relationship. If I’m drafting if I’m an attorney and I’m dealing with a modern media property or somebody operating on the Web with user generated content, what kind of principles can I draw from this example that we’ve given today? 

Colin Levy [00:24:03] So a couple of the principles I would outline would be, number one is ensure that you are. You know, expressing some interest in what is posted on a website and that you’ll be watching it, but at the same time you can’t control everyone. And so therefore, there’s some you know, the onus really is on the commentators to watch what they say. So that would be one principle. Another would be if you are looking into other sites to make sure that you’re not taking more liability responsibility than you should, meaning that if you’re looking to another site that in your terms, you’re saying, well, I’m responsible for what’s on my site, but on someone else’s site, that’s not my problem. Right. So that those would be a couple of principles. And then a third principle probably would be just, you know. Yeah, these terms aren’t really aren’t really read by anyone that often, and they’re certainly not a force that often in court. But just because that may be the case doesn’t mean that you should be lazy in how you draft them. 

Mike Whelan [00:25:13] Yeah, that might come up in a court case if it ever came up, and I’m thinking about the the kid recently who went through the lawsuits where they’re apparently suing every media company in the world for the reporting on him standing in front of the Native American man banging on the drum. You know, whether these lawsuits actually succeed or not is sort of not the question. If these media companies are wrapped up in these long term suits, you know, they’re paying out money either way, whether in defending or in. It’s such a nebulous area that that these documents can help protect. So I appreciate you going through it. Colin, if people want to reach out to you and maybe talk more about what you do and talk more about documents like this, what’s the best way to get in touch with you? 

Colin Levy [00:25:58] Sure. So two ways. One is on Twitter @clevy_law or ColinSLevy.com. 

Mike Whelan [00:26:05] Awesome. And everybody who’s watching. I appreciate you being here for the contract tear down show. You can find information on this and other videos that we’ve created at lawinsider.com/resources. If you want to be a contributor on the Teardown show, just reach out to us where at community@LawInsider.com. We’ll see you guys next time. Thanks again. Thanks.

Contributors

Colin Levy
Colin Levy
Attorney
Mike Whelan
Mike Whelan
CEO @Lawyer Forward

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