Bloggers Could Get The Same Protections As Journalists, As Long As They're In It For The Money

from the splitting-hairs dept

There have been a number of cases in which it's been argued that bloggers and other independent writers don't deserve the same legal protection as "real" journalists, with a notable example being Apple's lawsuits to force some sites to reveal their sources of some leaked product info. While Apple won the first round, an appeals court overturned the decision, saying that state shield laws (which protect journalists from such suits) are "intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news," regardless of whether the person doing the gathering and dissemination is called a journalist or something else. A Congressional committee has now approved a federal shield law that would protect anyone who gets "financial gain or livelihood" from their journalistic pursuits, regardless of affiliation. If the measure's approved and signed into law (which seems unlikely given the Bush administration's opposition to it), it would extend protection to bloggers, so long as they were trying to make money from their online efforts. Obviously that's a pretty wide standard, and one that most bloggers could easily live up to by getting some form of advertising, or at least attempting to get some, on their sites. Some legislators say it's far too broad, but a bigger question would seem to be why financial gain is the sole criteria. Certainly there are plenty of people who write blogs or create other online media in a professional or moneymaking capacity, but there are plenty of others who aren't in it for the money. Just because someone isn't looking to make money from their online work shouldn't automatically mean they don't deserve the protection of shield laws.

Filed Under: congress, first amendment, politics


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  • identicon
    Shohat, 1 Aug 2007 @ 10:23pm

    No reason to compare

    Blogging is not about content. Blogs just duplicate the content posted by major sites, the real content providers. (CNN, BBC,Guardian, CNet,Wired, etc...)

    For the rare case when blogger has some original news, it would be wiser to just sell it to the big content provider, and enjoy the journalist protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joshua, 1 Aug 2007 @ 10:56pm

    Newspapers are not about content. Newspapers just duplicate the content posted by major sites, the real content providers. (AP,Reuters)

    For the rare case when a newspaper has some original news, it would be wiser to just sell it to the AP, and enjoy the journalist protection.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Trerro, 1 Aug 2007 @ 10:58pm

    Shohat, while it's true that many blogs simply repeat news from other sources, or link to it and discuss it, that is not by any means true of all of them. It's hardly a 'rare case' for a story to appear on a blog first (or only), especially if it's something that the mainstream news is hesitant to pick up - especially since 90% of the mainstream news is Reuters + AP - if those 2 companies don't approve, it's probably not getting far.
    News blogging serves 2 purposes, and yes, one of the them is to just discuss already published news, but the other is indeed original news, and it's not at all rare to see it.

    Making 'financial gain' the reason for protection is pretty silly, but at least it's an easy standard to live up to. Running a blog and don't want to advertise or take donations? Slap a really tiny donate link that only appears in the corner of your 'about me' page, and you're good to go. :)

    It sucks that Bush would veto something that basically simply ensures freedom of the press, but to say the least, constitutional rights aren't something the Bush administration is a fan of (gitmo, shipping interrogations overseas, warantless wiretapping and net monitoring, etc, etc.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andy, 1 Aug 2007 @ 11:01pm

    money making precedent

    This could set a bad precedent for hobbyists working on open source projects. For example, unless you had that innovative idea in mind for financial gain, it can't be used as prior art if someone else has the same idea (er, appropriates, uh, steals it).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 1 Aug 2007 @ 11:36pm

    More muddled thinking

    Ok, let's say this becomes an accepted concept. I'm a professional journalist, and I blog. Except I don't get money for my blog. So where does that leave me? Do I have to prove the comments I make in my blog are to make money, or just writing for the hell of it? This seems remarkably like the Python 'is this the right room for an argument' sketch, where the one guy says,'I might be arguing in my spare time...'.
    Shohat's idea that Bloggers just rehash other sources is a generalisation that isn't supported by proper investigation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shohat, 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:50am

    Ahem

    Pardon, I was in trolling mood.

    Cheers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Enrico Suarve, 2 Aug 2007 @ 3:08am

    As always its about the money

    So what exactly happens with a paper that's losing money (not an uncommon circumstance these days)

    Do they lose their press rights?

    And since when did the bill of rights only protect people who are making money from their endeavours? Freedom of the press is one of the checks and balances included in the consitution for the purposes of oversight (in this case the publics oversight)

    At the time of its writing the press was the only real way of getting information into the public domain at large - I honestly beleive that if Jefferson and his boys were around today it would state something more along the lines of protecting 'peoples sources when the news is to be placed in the public domain'

    America takes yet another step towards the all encompassing alter of the dollar - kneel or be audited

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Wolfger, 2 Aug 2007 @ 4:18am

    Let me state for the record...

    Everything I type online is for the purpose of making money. Including this comment. Please contact me to arrange payment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JSF (profile), 2 Aug 2007 @ 6:46am

    What about journalists that don't get paid

    If financial gain is what makes you a journalist, what about all those folks that work on school newspapers and get no financial gain? They wouldn't be considered journalists, unless the fact that it looks good on a resume is considered a financial gain. ;-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Overcast, 2 Aug 2007 @ 6:48am

    Well - look at it this way.

    Buy a small amount of stock in the companies where you advertise or the companies who advertise on their site.

    Then - you do have a vested interest in that business.

    Plus, if nothing else you can say you are writing it 'For your Livelihood' - since communications is key in any business, you are simply honing your skills used for business. Educational... leading to increasing your livelihood.

    After a quick peek at it...

    (2) COVERED PERSON- The term `covered person' means a person engaged in journalism and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person.

    (3) DOCUMENT- The term `document' means writings, recordings, and photographs, as those terms are defined by Federal Rule of Evidence 1001 (28 U.S.C. App.).

    (4) FEDERAL ENTITY- The term `Federal entity' means an entity or employee of the judicial or executive branch or an administrative agency of the Federal Government with the power to issue a subpoena or issue other compulsory process.

    (5) JOURNALISM- The term `journalism' means the gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public.



    We can all be considered 'affiliates' in any event. Seems like it protects regardless of possible income.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Frog, 2 Aug 2007 @ 7:45am

    Repeat France * 1000

    Better watch out or it will be illegal for anyone to post anything on the net if you are not a professional journalist working for the state run propaganda machine. French can't even post videos / pictures of cops beating up on people. Bu$hC0 would love this to be reality...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bewilderedbeast, 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:36am

    *professionals*

    Everything I say can be held against me in a court of law and by my employer.

    The truth is, whether you are online making statements or on the street corner playing town-crier, our communications have direct and real financial impacts. A journalist who blogs for free is no less developing their professional craft than any blogger or any other unpaid writer. If the economic litmus test is financial impact, then it's a no-brainer: protection via shield laws will apply to all.

    I worry more about what they aren't telling us: is there something in the latest TSA bill they know will negate this? Are there further plans to quash even more civil liberties than have already be seriously restricted or just plain vanished? OR is this all just smoke and mirrors to get through another legislative session appearing to watch out for our interests while pocketing millions in lobbying perks?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Black and White, 2 Aug 2007 @ 12:04pm

    Frankly, no matter what means of communication is used, free speach should be covered so should responsability for libel and slander if the source is unfounded.

    All of our freedoms have a cost and limits when they infinge on the rights of others. you have thr freedom to say whatever you want but be aware that there may be a price to be paid if you are in the wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Steven Ashley, 2 Aug 2007 @ 7:14pm

    So what is the minimum

    So what is the minimum that will be required to be covered under the new provision.

    Do we actually need to take ads or can we just put a notice to tell advertisers how to contact us about advertising.

    What's it going to take?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Saber Taylor, 5 Aug 2007 @ 5:47pm

    + journalist protection - libel protection

    See also,
    "Bloggers -- You Might Have Already Had Libel Insurance,
    but you might have lost it by having ads or a tipjar" http://www.volokh.com/posts/1185312054.shtml

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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