Good News for Bloggers
A California appeals court has ruled that online reporters (ie. bloggers) are protected by the same rights to confidentiality that traditional mainstream media journalists rely on, putting the kibosh on efforts by Apple Computer to identify people leaking their confidential company data.
Apple argued that web sites posting about it were not legitimate news reporters and were misappropriating their trade secrets and violating copyrights. But the appellate panel disagreed, saying that both online and off-line journalists were indistinguishable and equally protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish ‘legitimate’ from ‘illegitimate’ news,” the opinion states. “Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment…. Beyond casting aspersions on the legitimacy of petitioners’ enterprise, Apple offers no cogent reason to conclude that they fall outside the shield law’s protection.
If upheld, the ruling could have a far- reaching impact in California courts on other writers who publish electronically, including bloggers who regularly post news and opinion online without the backing of a mainstream news operation.
This ruling will probably prove instructive to other online writers,” said Kurt Opsahl, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization, who argued the case in front of the appeals court last month. “It says that what makes a journalist is not the format but the function.
That’s great news for bloggers. At least we’re getting respect from the courts so read it and weep all you snooty MSM types. You can read more about the ruling at the International Herald Tribune.
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