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9.6 Liability as an internet service provider 


The extent to which an institution as an internet service provider (ISP) might be directly or vicariously liable for the actions of its users is discussed more specifically in each of the other headings under the legal issues section and viewed in the context of specific examples such as copyright infringement, posting of offensive material etc. A good overview of the issues has been provided by Jisc. To summarise here, the institution is:

  • directly responsible for its own published content;
  • vicariously responsible for content published by employees in the course of their employment;
  • directly responsible in cases where the institution exercises editorial control over published content;
  • potentially negligent where action, or inaction, causes harm to its users in a way that could have been reasonably foreseen e.g. neglecting a duty of care to staff and students.

In some cases the issues may be less clear cut e.g. where the institution is acting in more of an intermediary role or as a conduit to other social networks. In all cases the application of common sense and reasonable behaviour should help. If you have clear policies and guidelines and act promptly when notified of a problem, you will go a long way to mitigating risk.


 
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