Publisher Liability

Increasingly, legislation is being introduced that attempts to make publishers, website owners, website operators, search engines, agencies and others in the marketing industry responsible for third-party or advertiser content published by them.

This shift of liability from the speaker to the publisher is contrary to longstanding legal precedent. For example, many attribute the growth of the internet to protections from such publisher liability through the Communications Decency Act, a law that protected internet providers and websites from liability for the actions and content of their users. The reason behind the law was to avoid a chilling effect on speech that would result if such protections were not adopted.

The same principles apply when attempts are made to require digital or print publishers to screen advertisements for undesirable content or regulatory compliance. This is especially true in an age of self-serve automated ad placement through ad networks. The responsibility for content should be that of the person providing the content and placing the ad who is in the best position to evaluate the veracity of any statements made and understand any regulatory requirements for the subject matter being promoted.