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Legal experts said bloggers are increasingly the targets of such litigation, which are testing the bounds of free speech.
Lyndal Harrington, who is accused of helping to spread falsehoods that Virgie Arthur married her stepbrother and abused Smith as a child, spent four nights in jail after she failed to comply with a court order to turn over her computer.
Lawsuits against bloggers in the United States have been doubling every year since 2004 with 15 million dollars in judgments so far against them, according to Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association.
"A lot of bloggers think of themselves as individuals or maybe writers but in the courts, they are considered a publisher," Cox said.
His organization has created an on-line course with Harvard Law School, City of New York School of Journalism and News University at the Poynter Institute at Northwestern University to educate bloggers about their legal rights and responsibilities.
"A lot of these cases could have been avoided if things had been worded just a little differently or if they had double sourced their information," Cox said.
The majority of cases against bloggers are for defamation but they are also frequently sued for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.
"There's this Wild West mentality where people think they can do anything on the Web and not be held liable," said Harvard professor Wayne Bayard.
While state laws vary on what constitutes defamation and who qualifies as a journalist and thus who can protect sources, Bayard said, judges have consistently applied the same standards to blogs as they would any other medium of expression.
"Defamation is defamation no matter whether it is written on paper or on a blog," he said.