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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  1. identicon
    bewilderedbeast, 2 Aug 2007 @ 9:36am


    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?

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