Thursday, December 07, 2006

Show Me the Money! Prepared to Move Beyond Hypothetical Legalistic Issues

Some people understand that to be able to blog what you think and believe is very much an important right. To be able to say something which the larger more mainstream media might not say is something which has many ramifications for both the blogger and the American corporate attorney as it relates to the subject of a blog being published.

As a blogger I am one of those individuals who recognize that blogging is a protected right of all who are guaranteed protection by the constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of the press. Yet, much of corporate America has not yet gotten up to speed on many issues related to this new medium of communication. Hopefully this article will help in setting the record straight. Many American corporations have failed at recognizing the importance of the blog as a medium of communication.

Clearly the mainstream media has always understood the rights which they enjoy. Bloggers understand that right as well. Unfortunately there are those who fail to recognize the fact that in the new media, the people’s media, based on the words of the founding fathers and made possible by the age of technocracy, that bloggers do indeed have such protected free speech rights as well as rights protecting the press.

This is though as previously stated a new field to all but the very most cutting edge corporate lawyer types, a select few of the suits if you will, who find themselves in an ever increasing bind to protect their companies business interests while at the same time serving and benefiting their corporate master.

What then is the legal department to do? As a legal professional it is clear that the law calls for you to walk very gently in this minefield of the blogosphere. To do otherwise might very well cause great financial harm to the very corporation for which you are charged with protecting. Indeed, any wrong moves could clearly prove to be costly to the corporation which attempts to harass or silence the blogger in any degree whatsoever.

Since in most cases the corporation doesn’t even know for a certainty the individuals identity, beyond a masking nom de plume, a carefully crafted pseudonym such as Snake Oil Sam, it might even prove risky business for any company to even consider broaching the subject by attempting to question any individual as to whether or not the person is indeed the individual behind the alias.

In the process of the publishing of an individuals personal thoughts about a public issue in the venue of the blog so that a larger audience, indeed a worldwide readership, might have opportunity to read that individuals thoughts what should the position of the corporate entity be in respect to the blogger?

Though perhaps concerned about the matter any lawyer worth his or her salt will understand that such individual has the right to publish such thoughts free of any form of harassment. But what if the situation was that the individual worked for the company who has such legal concern?

Apart from the law, reason will tell you that the situation does not change in any significant way in that circumstance. But since we are operating in a world which is not apart from law the fact remains that even an employee of a company has the right to blog at will.

Yes, no company may make and attempt to enforce any corporation rule or regulation which abridges the right of a free citizen from blogging about any subject which the blogger wishes to blog about.

Unless the blogger was doing the blogging on company time or by using company equipment I see little possibility that the corporation would have a legal leg upon which to stand.

But what if the blogger said things which were aimed at hurting the company? What for example if the blogger worked for the Rats Nest Ice Cream Company and stated in a blog that the aforementioned Rats Nest Ice Cream Company made an inferior product?

Well, first of all, if it is true then the company has nothing with which to make a defense. After all truth is truth, and someone in law once said that the truth is a great defense. Or on the same line of thought what if that employee said something about the companies’ competition? What if the blogger questioned the integrity of how the competition conducts their business?

Consider that it was only a question intended to get people to look more closely into the way that the competition conducts business and ultimately decide whether or not they wish to support such a company.

Perhaps in example, Rats Nest Ice Cream Company only let their delivery drivers use the ice cream truck to do the job of delivering Rats Nest ice cream. When on the other hand the competition allowed their drivers to take the ice cream truck home at night and use it for family business when not using it for the company business.

Then when it was time for the accountants to do the books at the end of the year that company wrote off all of the use of the ice cream truck as a business expense for tax purposes. Clearly the Rats Nest Ice Cream Company would be at a business disadvantage.

Perhaps that is not the case; perhaps there is a mechanism in place to account for the personal use of the ice cream truck taking into account factors reported to the Internal Revenue Service. But since the issue is raised is it not incumbent upon the purveyor of the other ice cream company to answer the inquiry so that the mind of the public and him who makes the inquiry should be put at ease?

Now to simply have stated that this is what might be going on might be a derisory way in which to approach the subject. But to state it in the form of a question or questions in a fictitious letter would clearly be intended to simply get people in positions of responsibility to look at the matter and fix what might possibly be wrong with a system of bookkeeping so that each company is playing on a level playing field.

In summation I would simply say that it is very important that corporate lawyers see and clearly grasp all of the issues which are involved in a person’s right as an American citizen to blog about any topic he chooses to blog about.

When Corporate Lawyers spend a full hour plus, dedicated to reading every single topic which an individual blogs about, then it is certain that they are at the very least concerned about the issue.

The most important thing which they need to keep foremost in mind is, as the title of this article states, “Show Me the Money! Prepared to Move Beyond Hypothetical Legalistic Issues.” And the crux of the matter is that of understanding the true reason for the existence of the corporate lawyer, to protect the money. How does one do that?

There are clearly several ways to accomplish that goal but the best way would be to accept the fact that the corporation has no accountability for the actions of others and simply remember that “freedom is the bottom line.”

Always keep in mind, practice and take to heart the credo that no corporation has the legal right to overstep the authority of a beautiful legal document, The Constitution of The United States of America.
Snake Oil Sam
Snake Oil Sam Internet Media Publishing © 2006

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