Rights of the Established Media?
So, if a newspaper or even The Register was paying her even a trivial sum then they could have bestowed immunity to her? Thats not right, the law stinks.
An Oregon court has denied a blogger protection under that state’s “shield laws” because she isn’t employed by a media organization – a distinction which has cost her $2.5 million in a lost defamation suit. Blogger Crystal Cox was accused of defaming Obsidian Finance Group in blog posts critical of the company’s founder Kevin …
It's deaf, dumb and blind. It also has the frequent ability to contradict itself. In ol’ OZ we have self-referencing sub sections and machinery sections that basically enter you into an infinite loop. Yep, the laws’ a fuckin’ ass. But what do you expect from a bunch of friggin’ idiots who are typically in a drunken stupor or half asleep when they ratify these things into law
I think you miss the purpose of the shield law...
The law was designed to protect the journalist from being sued under defamation law as an effort to get to their inside source. If the journalist could not protect their confidential informant, then less people would be willing to speak out. Same too for the police's confidential informant.
What's at issue is how do you classify a blogger? Do all bloggers meet the requirements of being a journalist just because they post their blogs?
Suppose my real name was Seymour Butts and I post a blog under the title 'Kitty Liter Daily Journal'.
Now since I have a regular blog does that make me a journalist? Suppose I write rants about the Brit Royals getting randy in Buckingham Palace, citing an unnamed source. Clearly its not true, and when the Brit Royals sue me, can I hide behind my unnamed source?
And thats the point. Anyone can blog about anything. In the US they have limited protection under the first amendment. That doesn't make them a journalist.
Now had the blogger actually had an article picked up by a journal or some other publication, then she could have been protected as a freelance journalist.
Sorry you don't like the shield law.
"fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system"
if she printed out some of her blog posts and handed them out at random, then she would qualify?
or posted stuff on youtube? or had self published or POD'd a collection posts?
assuming that the articles *are* factual, and she ends up revealing her source, does that then entitle her to counter sue? or will that then open her up to another lawsuit for betraying (under court order) her source?
Presumably if her source is an employee, so the consequences of being a whistle blower are rather high...
sorry for lowering the tone, but her name sounds like a sex toy.
75% eh? I'd say that compares well to the Daily Mail (80%), Independent (82%), Mirror (90%) and Sun (102%)*
Twitter is mostly full of noise, it's true.But, so is the rest of the mainstream media, which these days seems to largely rely on what's trending on twitter when it isn't copy-pasting Reuters and AP straight from the wire. Given that they're acting largely as a relay of what the public are nattering about, why do we need them any more?
And given that newspaper circulation figures are nosediving, and television news figures are in similar decline, it seems evident to me that a great many people agree with my stance.
*Like you I am, of course, making all of that up...
The relevant Oregon media shield law lists various forms of media communication, including newspapers and TV, but makes no mention of the internet or online distribution. So independent bloggers are not considered journalists (n.b. laws in other states are different). Arguably this is a flaw in the law that should be fixed, and she could probably win on appeal with the help of a decent lawyer.
On the other hand, taking a look at some of these blogs, the quality falls rather short of what I'm accustomed to from investigatory journalists. Long on outrage and hysteria, rather short on clear and reasoned arguments, and desperate for attention. I've seen better writing in high school student newspapers. It would be much easier to call her a 'journalist' if the posts read like something out of the New York Times instead.
the verdict of the Oregon court would be overturned in a heart-beat because the law does not offer equal protection to all citizens.
I'm strongly against shield laws because they create privileged classes in society. Journalist should be held to the same standards as anybody else who says something in a public forum.
*from the common knowledge quote "only a fool represents himself in a court of law."
Damn you could have asked me for a dollar and said you work for a news organization. You could have got a friend to give you a dollar and they could say they employed you.
On the other hand, this is a BAD LAW which needs to be nullified. Too bad I wasn't on her jury pool.
Maybe she could wait a year or so, and the DOD will replace the DOJ and then she can be indefinitely detained, tortured and killed by this fascist system of bullshit.
Bottom line, U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez is an oath breaking domestic terrorist.
"On the other hand, this is a BAD LAW which needs to be nullified. Too bad I wasn't on her jury pool."
The way jury nullification works in the real world is that the jury cuts some slack for the home town boy and hangs the outsider:
the nerd, the dork and the geek, among others.
Oregon doesn't requre a unaminous verdict even in a murder trial. (11/12) If you want to play the lone hold-out, get a job in dinner theater,
The judge does not want to exclude any relevant evidence.
He does not want to hear that your only defense to --- any --- charge is a witness who cannot be brought into court.
To re-imagine the printing press as a "license to libel" can do enormous damge to the innocent. That is why shield laws are construed narrowly.
Remember, "paying attention to the a site's ebbs & flows" nazis are held to an even higher standard than double posting nazis ...
Seriously, ElReg, what's going on? Let us (TINU) know ... There are many here who are probably more than happy to provide hints & tips.
I probably missed the Elreg self-implicating article ... I'm good at that. ;-)
I think that's the problem - if she had been a journalist the nobody would have believed anything she wrote and so the comments would have done no harm.
But by not being associated with any of Murdoch's mighty organs - she automatically achieved a higher level of trust and so the comments had so much more potential to inflict damage,
The purpose of a shield law is to give journalists cover when the actions would otherwise be illegal. If you allow everyone to be decribed as a journalist on their own say so, then effectively you are making those actions legal for anyone who can talk fast enough.
So if its desirable that these actions should generally be illegal *and* its appropriate that journalists should have an exemption, then the lack of protection for amateur "journalists" follows logically.
If on the other hand you don't think what she did should be illegal at all, then that's an entirely different topic and absolutely nothing to do with the workings of the shield law.
There is no substantive difference between a blog and a " newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system."
This judge is barely up to speed with the 20th century, let alone the 21st
"the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system"
Pamplet? So, er, to get journalistic protection all she has to do is print out a couple of copies of each blog entry and give them to a few people, then?
What an idiotic ruling.
Did they all of a sudden pop into existence or was it one or two people starting a business?
Just because one was on paper and the other is electronic why does it matter?
Seems to me that this judge may have been getting extra benefits from this ruling!
Think about it: If every 'blogger' (easily extended to include anyone who posts anything online at all) counts as a journalist in the eyes of the law, then you might as well scrap defamation laws completely, since you could say anything you like about any person or organisation, and when they sue you for libel, you just argue that the piece was factually accurate and that you have a source who you're entitled to not reveal..
Because you can trivially set yourself up as a media company; pay a few bucks, fill in a form and you're done. Incidentally, a person familiar with the matter told "haroldo is a big gay bear media llc" that haroldo was, in fact, a big gay bear. Naturally, HIABGBM will not be revealing their source.
The reporter's shield and general freedom of speech that's so often trumpeted by the yanks only goes so far in protecting you from the consequences of your actions.
The usual challenge to "factually accurate" is to in fact prove that the "factually accurate" is factually inaccurate in some sense as part of the libel suit. But apparently Mr Bigwig COULDN'T prove that any of the things blogged about were materially wrong, and was therefore required to fall back on intimidation and "deep pockets" attacks.
This is going to get appealed so hard. The US constitution doesn't provide for "freedom of journalists linked to known media organisations". Freedom of the press isn't meant to create a special class of protected people, it means simply the freedom to print. The judge's definition of what constitutes a "journalist" or "media" is simply bullshit.
I can understand a company wanting to protect themselves against deliberate slander, but from what I have read, she was found guilty of defamation only because she refused to name her source, which is very common as protecting a source of information is very important. The fact that she isn't affiliated with any known media outlet shouldn't come into play.
If indeed she was lying and deliberately in order to cause the company harm, then yes, she should be fined.
The worry thing though that I get from the article is whether this is going to spread to other bloggers and how much should they be on their guards? Even if they report the truth, but the offended company/ corporation dislikes the article can they also take similar action against the blogger who has no official media affiliated?
Especially since a Federal judge so recently ruled that videoing police at work IS covered by 1st Amendment protections (the freedom of speech and press one), even if John Public is the one doing the recording. There just has to be a reasonable assumption it is in the public's interest to know.
Really, though the merits of THIS PARTICULAR decision are thin, if you dig up the post in question, you'd suppose the decision was made on the merits of Ms Cox being an idiot and she should be fined the $2.5 million for an undefined number of assaults on grammar and egregious Abuse of Capitalization. I cannot help but think that were I in the position of the judge and had I been thus forced to read and reread Cox's writing, I'd be disinclined to rule in her favor from the start. It's a good thing I'm not a judge, I suppose.
Without reading more of the decision it is hard to make sense of this all. However, suppose that I were to write on line that The Register's hacks eat bean sprouts, wear Mormon underwear, and use IBM 3270 green-screen terminals, and they were then to haul me into court for defamation. It would be up to me to prove that I have evidence to back up my statements. Saying "a little bird told me" might not impress the jury. Saying "an inside source told me, but I swore a mighty oath not to disclose his name, and I'm a journalist so I don't have to" is not significantly different.
Shield laws are not enacted to cover such cases, but to keep journalists from being held in contempt of court when they refuse to disclose sources' names.
I think. If she was able to prove an allegation true after the fact, say in a counter-suit, then the problem for the Plaintiff's Lawyers is that they abetted a fraud and the counter-suit against both them and the Plaintiff should have treble damages. However her source would not be engaged in fraud if they made a little side agreement to split the treble damages 50/50. So if she and her source could have their honor satisfied for $3.75m each, everybody would be happy.
A journalist can't run this scam, hence the protection.
I think the biggest problem is this statement "Cox had chosen to represent herself in this case". At face value it would appear that if an electronic publication has a wide enough reach for suing for defamation then it should have a pretty good argument that it should be big enough to qualify under the shield laws.
But the question is whether the shield laws should even be invoked. Cox should have proof - emails, documents etc. - that her source provided. Did she state both sides of the story and request a response to the allegations from the company involved (as any reputable journalist would do)?
Also the judges may have stuck by the letter of the law - do Oregon shield laws specifically list the types of media which are covered?
All these things seem to point to the fact that Cox needs a solicitor, rather than just making a mess herself.
This makes sense to me. In English law it is the publisher who is liable in a case of libel. That is to say if you wanted to sue for libel over a newspaper article you would sue the publisher of the paper, not the author of the piece. In those terms the Blogger is both author and publisher and therefore liable in their role as publisher.
There is no way being a blogger should give you any protection. After all you have no protection against a suit for slander if you say something slanderous as a private individual, so why should you get protection just because you do the same thing online?
Those who think this is somehow an issue under a right to free speech need to pull their heads out of their collective arse. You are indeed free to say, write or publish whatever you want, however with that right comes responsibility. As such you must face the legal consequences. Nobody should have the right to defame anybody without their facing the consequences.
And if you support the blogger in this case consider this: What would you do if a blogger accused you of being a paedo?
FWIW in UK law, anyone who handled the copy can be sued: the writer, the news editor, the sub-editor and the editor as well as the management. Usually, plaintiffs go after the money (the publisher) or the publisher is contractually obliged to defend its employees.
I've seen people name hacks, editors and publishers in defamation writs in order to scare the heck out of them.
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