Web 2.0 and User-Generated Content: Legal Challenges in the New Frontier
Dr. Carlisle George & Dr. Jackie Scerri
The advent of Web 2.0 has enabled a host of new services and possibilities on the Internet.
Among many new possibilities, users can easily upload online content that can be accessed, viewed and downloaded by other users around the globe. This has resulted in an explosive growth of User-Generated Content (UGC) which although creating exciting opportunities for users, presents many challenges, especially related to law and regulation.
This paper discusses Web 2.0, UGC and the legal /regulatory challenges that have arisen in this new ‘frontier’ characterised by having a liberating democratic ethos (on one hand) but also sometimes tainted with illegal activity and disregard for accepted norms. Citing various researched case studies and legal cases, the paper highlights possible ‘dangers’ where traditional legal rules may be inadequate to address certain types of online activity, and discusses many of the legal challenges which this new frontier brings. These challenges are widespread and relate to intellectual property, liability, defamation, pornography, hate speech, privacy, confidentiality and jurisdiction among others.
The paper also discusses the role of intermediaries (web hosts and service providers) and whether they can aid in effectively policing the new Web 2.0 frontier. Finally the paper attempts to discuss possible solutions for the way forward.