Should Bloggers Be Afforded The Same Rights Granted To Journalists?

from the lawsuits-galore... dept

Paul Alan Levy writes "Together with the ACLU of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Center for Freedom of Expression, we have intervened in a case pending in Buckingham County, Virginia in which a plaintiff in a defamation case retaliated against a blogger who covered his defamation suit in less than flattering terms by sending a highly invasive subpoena that demands production of the blogger's communications with his sources, IP numbers of all who posted on his web site or even READ the web site. There have been only a handful of cases in which courts have addressed whether bloggers should be treated as journalists for the purpose of considering the reporters' privilege. We are also arguing that, in addition to protecting the commenters on the blog for the reasons usually argued -- protecting their right of anonymous speech -- posters on a journalist's blog should be treated as "sources" whose disclosure violates the journalist's own rights."

We've been seeing a lot of these types of cases lately. It would be good to get some more definitive rulings that establish both the rights of those who blog, as well as those who comment anonymously.
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Filed Under: bloggers, journalists, lawsuits, sources


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  1. identicon
    Stephen Pate, 10 Mar 2009 @ 4:50am

    Bloggers, journalists and free speech

    Most of the protections are free speech. In Canada we updated the rules and put "freedom of expression" alongside "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication" The "other media" has been used to include social media. I was able to get a press pass for the legislature based on my experience, 1,400 articles printed and reference to "other media" despite my open attacks on the government of the day. No one wants to look like they don't support a free press, other than the press themselves.

    There are no distinctions in either Canada or the US that provide pejorative lesser rights to "bloggers". Free speech is what it is for all citizens. That being said, the law always has boundaries and libel is not covered. Bill Clinton wasted a ton of energy chasing the Drodge report which was a blog. Anyone can have their sources demanded. It takes lawyers and court time to prosecute and defend those claims. Except when you are running afoul of state secrets, most claims on your sources would be civil matters for the litigants to fight out themselves.

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