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Court Victory Gives Blogger Same Speech Protections As Traditional Press

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the take-that-traditional-journalism dept.

The Courts 137

cold fjord writes "Reuters reports, 'A blogger is entitled to the same free speech protections as a traditional journalist and cannot be liable for defamation unless she acted negligently, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday. Crystal Cox lost a defamation trial in 2011 over a blog post she wrote accusing a bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of tax fraud. A lower court judge had found that Obsidian did not have to prove that Cox acted negligently because Cox failed to submit evidence of her status as a journalist. But in the ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Cox deserved a new trial, regardless of the fact that she is not a traditional reporter. "As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable."... Eugene Volokh, [a] Law professor who represented Cox, said Obsidian would now have to show that Cox had actual knowledge that her post was false when she published it. ... "In this day and age, with so much important stuff produced by people who are not professionals, it's harder than ever to decide who is a member of the institutional press."' Further details are available at Courthouse News Service."

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yes! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002039)

A great victory for the blogosphere

Re:yes! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002233)

How can anyone be entitled more free speech than others??? everyone is entitled the same free speech, journalist, blogger or bum.

Re:yes! (4, Interesting)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 7 months ago | (#46002275)

I totally agree with you.

I would argue the distinction has ALWAYS been unworkable its just that the internet has made it more obvious.

Although I am sure corporate media organisations will disagree...but fuck them.

And if this gets overturned or is not the case in other countries I would suggest that bloggers form a collective media organisation - Independent Media United. :)

As a side bonus they could use it as a blogging community, buy hosting in bulk or whatever....

Re:yes! (1, Interesting)

sycodon (149926) | about 7 months ago | (#46002501)

Obsidian would now have to show that Cox had actual knowledge that her post was false when she published it

Something about this just seems wrong. How may times have people had their lives ruined by false accusations in the Press only to have the accusations shown to be false. Richard Jewel [nytimes.com] is a good example. Seems to me that just being a notable person should not be a free pass for folks in the Press to ruin them, accidentally or otherwise.

Re:yes! (2)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 7 months ago | (#46002571)

Nevertheless, why would it be ok for an "official" journalist to do this?

For example Fox news in every second one of their stories....

You are arguing a different point here....

Re:yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002681)

I could wager a guess. An "official" journalist is being paid to write. If something they write is "bad", the risk losing not only their job but would most likely not be hired as a journalist again, effectively ending their career. They feel that sword hanging over their head would steer them toward doing things the "right" way.

Re:yes! (4, Interesting)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 7 months ago | (#46003225)

You are being very naive.

Who defines "bad" and "good"?

And why is i that a for profit corporate such as Fox News (to pick the most disgusting mainstream example I can think of) is given special privilege given their well documented bias and motivations....

As I said...naive....

Re:yes! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002749)

Now now, fox lies through their teeth, but so do the others..

Re:yes! (1)

MrBigInThePants (624986) | about 7 months ago | (#46003229)

I was just picking the most disgusting mainstream example I can think of off the top of my head.

Re:yes! - well - no (1)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#46003249)

Um, Fox corroborates their stories before they air them.

YOU might not like what they say, (and really it boils down to that, doesn't it), and YOU might find their sources suspicious, but
I suspect you had no problem believing CBS [washingtonpost.com] .

Re:yes! (2)

icebike (68054) | about 7 months ago | (#46003233)

Obsidian would now have to show that Cox had actual knowledge that her post was false when she published it

Something about this just seems wrong. How may times have people had their lives ruined by false accusations in the Press only to have the accusations shown to be false. Richard Jewel [nytimes.com] is a good example. Seems to me that just being a notable person should not be a free pass for folks in the Press to ruin them, accidentally or otherwise.

True, Obsidian would normally under these circumstances, have to show negligence, either that the information
was false or that she had no information at all, and was merely slandering Obsidian.

However, Cox (apparently) tried to hide behind journalism privilege, without providing evidence in court,
perhaps trying to protect her sources, or perhaps because she really never had any verifiable
information. Its not clear from TFA.

But had she substantiated her claims, that's when journalistic protections should kick in.
And had that she provided proof, it would have worked for a private citizen as well, although
the private citizen might not get to protect sources.

The problem here is that Cox did not have entirely clean hands. From TFA:

Cox has a history of making allegations of fraud and other illegal activities "and seeking payoffs in exchange for retraction.

So once again, we are in a situation where this might be the Law of the 9Th, but it may well not fly elsewhere.

Re:yes! (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 7 months ago | (#46003429)

I would argue the distinction has ALWAYS been unworkable its just that the internet has made it more obvious.

That's exactly it. The Supreme Court said

âoeWith the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media ⦠the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.â

Guess where they said it? Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. Yes that Citizens United. How that decision became popularized as "corporations are evil because the system is corrupt" I can't figure. Protection of First Amendment freedoms is good, full stop.

Re:yes! (4, Interesting)

penix1 (722987) | about 7 months ago | (#46003475)

Yes that Citizens United. How that decision became popularized as "corporations are evil because the system is corrupt" I can't figure. Protection of First Amendment freedoms is good, full stop.

What makes it evil is it equated money with speech as well as said corporations are entitled to the same rights as people in a much stronger stance than any other decision. By allowing anonymous donations to political campaigns, there is no saying where the money actually came from be it local or from a foreign nation seeking to upset our political arena.

Re:yes! (2)

lgw (121541) | about 7 months ago | (#46003959)

But that's just it - the finding was that if a person has freedom of speech and of the press, then a group of people have the same freedoms, whether incorporated or otherwise. In the modern world, any attempt to get your ideas heard in the national conversation requires money, unless you are a professional journalist with a soapbox provided for you. If we are to believe that freedom of speech and of the press are not something restricted to professional journalists (as I strongly believe), then you cannot restrict the money needed to power speech without restricting speech.

It's very clear that anonymous political speech is needed to insure free political speech. That's a somewhat separate discussion, but one that seems quite obvious to me: Anonymous Coward can be a total asshole, to be sure, but there are so many governments that kill or imprison those who speak out against them that we know that anonymous speech may at times be the only political speech.

You can trust me, I'm with the Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002295)

Press pass, please.

Old school ideas - professionals are more privileged.

Put AdSense on your blog (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46002317)

A professional is one who gets paid for his work. Put AdSense on your blog and you're a professional.

Re:yes! (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 7 months ago | (#46002521)

One word....Lawyers.

"A modern day lawyer (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 7 months ago | (#46002747)

Mean, mean pride
Punched real hard and he. . .still. . .cried"
Duh-DUH Duh-DUH

(Thanks, I'm here all week.)

Re:"A modern day lawyer (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 7 months ago | (#46003509)

Woah. Tom Sawyer is actually playing as I read this.

Re:yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002869)

Since I know this anonymous coward to be Richard AC Jewel, a child rapist and terrorist, his question is important to me. There is now no defamation, only free speech.

Re:yes! (2)

SydShamino (547793) | about 7 months ago | (#46002887)

It's not just free speech, but the meaning of freedom of the press, as that is called out as a separate "line item" if you will in the first amendment. What does that mean in a context distinct from speech? In the rare situation that circumstances make it impossible for everyone to be in a given location - for example, in a courtroom, on Air Force One, etc. - it makes sense to designate a "pool reporter" to take that spot in exchange for agreeing to share the information with everyone else. Often it's likely that the spot will be reserved for the pool reporter, because it ensures that a wide variety of media outlets have access to the information.

In that way, for example, some press might get preferential treatment over other press. On the other hand, if a large group of bloggers wanted to get together and make a pool for reporting on things like that, I suspect their pool reporter would also get similar preferential treatment.

Also, consider places like crime scenes where police used to* allow designated members of the media closer access than the "general public". While any given member of that public could tweet or publish an Instagram and suddenly be a journalist, the police officers may be willing to give a little more leniency to someone they know personally or by reputation as someone who won't get in their way. *I say "used to" because with rulings like these, maybe they won't do this any more, but also with the increased militarization and adversarial nature of police forces, they may be as equally likely to lash out at a "member of the press" as they seem regularly to at the general public.

Re:yes! (1)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 7 months ago | (#46003011)

Quite literally, freedom of the press meant the right to own and operate a printing press. There was also a separation in the treatment of libel and slander by printing press owners as opposed to speech. Which is why you still see distinctions in their treatment by law today. And for today, everyone pretty much has a printing press (as I, or at least Slashdot and their hosting company) at hand. Nearly everywhere you want to be (that's a joke).

Re:yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003727)

How can anyone be entitled more free speech than others??? everyone is entitled the same free speech, journalist, blogger or bum.

Free speech isn't a pass to say false things that harm people.

If I lie about you and it harms you, I can't just say I didn't know better and get away with it easy.
If a reporter says something false that harms you, you have to prove he knew it was a lie.

That extra protection is meant for professionals relaying the news.

Re:yes! (3, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#46002331)

A great victory for the blogosphere

Very much so. And I will also point out that Eugene Volokh [ucla.edu] is quite an interesting fellow with a great blog [volokh.com] . Lots of interesting commentary there. Legal Insurrection [legalinsurrection.com] is another great legal blog.

Volokh worked for 12 years as a computer programmer. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in math-computer science at age 15, and has written many articles on computer software. Volokh was born in the USSR; his family emigrated to the U.S. when he was seven years old.

Because child prodigy is no longer in Soviet Russia, free speech comes to you!

Re:yes! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 7 months ago | (#46002383)

Volokh Consipracy is awesome. There's plenty of kibitzing in the comments section (personal attacks and snide commentary that would get -1'd here) but they track (and participate in, as with OP) a lot of legal decisions with constitutional impact.

Ancient precedents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003625)

It's not a coincidence that anonymously-printed hand bills, distributed, in London, in the 1600s and 1700s, were often referred to as 'libels'; they challenged the status quo and those whom maintained dominance.

Clearly when the Founders sought to protect ownership of printing presses, they also sought to protect libelers, as one man's libel was another man's free speech and a third man's entertainment - they did not see fit to decide for those men, or their peers.

When I was reading a book on the CIA's cocaine smuggling, published by the Christic Institute, I was struck by how they preceded each controversial statement with the phrase, 'based on information and belief'. I have since discovered this is a formulaic legal expression with precedents whereby controversial facts may safely be introduced into the public debate, and I have used it religiously, with good effect.

Of course, this requires that one have some sort of information to base one's belief upon - but that's not a bad thing, we'll all agree.

Furthermore, the term 'journalist' hearkens back to a time when not everyone knew how to read, and fewer still were inclined to write, but, of those whom DID know how to write, they felt - as a sense of responsibility to those whom would come after them, in life - that they had a duty to record their experiences, so that others could learn from them, in books, that were often referred to as 'journals', hence, those whom kept journals were referred to, as 'journalists'.

And so we see there is no inconsistency between owning a press ... publishing one's opinions ... annoying those in power ... exercising one's freedom of speech ... adhering to the law ... and being held responsible for one's statements, when one does not.

The web hasn't changed anything; it's just lowered the cost of ownership, printing costs and distribution costs. That's ALL.

~childo

CAPTCHA: 'tested'

Somewhere Sen. Feinstein throws her laptop. (5, Insightful)

Noishkel (3464121) | about 7 months ago | (#46002041)

Better luck pissing on inalienable rights next time. Why not try banning the second amendment again. That'll make you feel better.

Re:Somewhere Sen. Feinstein throws her laptop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002115)

She threw it while yelling "Drones, Drones, Drones!"

Re:Somewhere Sen. Feinstein throws her laptop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002203)

It would be nice to see Feinstein face some inalienable responsibilities? Where are those?

Re:Somewhere Sen. Feinstein throws her laptop. (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 7 months ago | (#46002243)

Better luck pissing on inalienable rights next time. Why not try banning the second amendment again. That'll make you feel better.

I like your wording better than the headline. She did indeed have that right all the time and the court forced the rest of the government to recognize that fact.

Re:Somewhere Sen. Feinstein throws her laptop. (5, Interesting)

Noishkel (3464121) | about 7 months ago | (#46002547)

I like your wording better than the headline. She did indeed have that right all the time and the court forced the rest of the government to recognize that fact.

Well I made that quip because Feinstein purposed an amendment a while back that would strip certain journalistic protections under the first amendment UNLESS you worked for an established news organization. Which would give the federal government an avenue to attack anyone they didn't like the message of.

Gives? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002071)

I think you mean "restores"? After they tried to take it away? [eff.org]

Re:Gives? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003125)

I prefer the word "recognizes". This is not only more accurate from a more philosophical perspective, but it also places the point on the fact that court cannot give or restore anything--that stems from the power vested by the people into the legislature (and times executive). It is the job of a court to interpret and recognize the law for the sake of justice. And, of course, at times it is the place of courts to recognize when the law is unjust and corrupt and those who work against the legislature and/or executive should be recognized not as criminals but patriots and heroes.

Btw, the very fact that the legislature is so heavily vested by the people as the basis of its power and yet so horrible disapproved by those same people tells you something very starkly true. That if the legislature of the US were a parliament, then a vote of no confidence would have been declared long ago. Clearly the system as established is warped precisely by the fact that people will so consistently vote for their own Congressman yet so harshly vote against Congress as a whole.

So, it's little wonder that people so heavily speak in terms of the courts "restoring" or "giving" and the legislature so openly complains about courts "legislating from the benches". If Congress had any moment of self-reflection or really consideration for the good of the nation and its people, it would realize why the courts only seeks justice in the courts (and at times, the executive) and can find none in the legislature. But, then, I really don't think there's really any thought beyond the bickering and infighting (not as anything resembling a whole, anyways). Congress is a rugby match and all the players care about is staying in the game.

'professional journalists' mostly paid liars now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002073)

so their speech is far from free but usually in the 'ordinary citizen' range

Not hard at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002091)

" it's harder than ever to decide who is a member of the institutional press."

Everyone is a member of the institutional press.

Simple.

Re:Not hard at all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002225)

That's easy to say. It's also totally fucking stupid. There are certain privileges only given to the press, eg. the right to protect their sources. Conflating "blogger" with "journalist" will not give those rights to everyone; it will take them away from the few people who actually should have them. There's a reason the press is mentioned separately in the first amendment.

Re:Not hard at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002485)

There are certain privileges only given to the press, eg. the right to protect their sources. Conflating "blogger" with "journalist" will not give those rights to everyone

Make up your mind - is it a privilege or a right?

The government can grant privileges; it can't grant rights. It can only protect specific rights.

Re:Not hard at all (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46002773)

The government can grant privileges; it can't grant rights. It can only protect specific rights.

Well, that is the way it is supposed to work in a free country. The people are the sovereign and they hold all the rights, the government is the subject and outside a few specific roles, they are to be bystanders in our prosperity. The people are presumed to be able to do anything unless there is a law barring the action. The US constitution even makes this clear in the 9th and 10th amendments

Somehow, in modern times, we have shifted from that concept to one which seems to specifically requires permission from the government in so many ways. This is probably because of the over regulation and the use of regulation as law to avoid a public debate in congress over the so called new law (regulation with the force of law). Along with that regulation comes licensing and so on and exists at almost every level in government to some degree. If you start a business in some areas and do not obtain proper permits or licenses, you can be fined or even jailed. I remember a story about a kid's lemonade stand being shut down [lmgtfy.com] a while back because they lacked the appropriate health department permits or licensing and it doesn't seem to be an isolated incident.

So I can see how some people might start thinking the government grants you rights. It's just a shame that it is possible for that to happen.

Re:Not hard at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002609)

And why shouldn't everyone have the right to protect their sources? It's not like the government, or anyone else, can make you say something against your will, including but not limited to, the name of some source of information.

Re:Not hard at all (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#46002969)

It's not like the government, or anyone else, can make you say something against your will

try telling that to the inmates of gitmo and bagram

Anyone could be a blogger... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002151)

And so a blogger could make accusations(false ones, in particular), with few consequences. A traditional journalist would be less likely to make false accusations in their line of work, because they could lose their job, and their employer could be taken to court.

There is a difference between a personal blog, and an official publication. Does a blogger follow the same code of conduct/ethics that a traditional journalist must follow? No. Apples and oranges. So for a blogger to be entitled to the same free speech protection as a traditional journalist is wrong.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002193)

So for a blogger to be entitled to the same free speech protection as a traditional journalist is wrong.

I fixed your little diatribe up for you so it more accurately represents your position :

"So I AS A SHORTSIGHTED FASCIST IDIOT THINK THAT for a blogger to be entitled to the same free speech protection as a traditional journalist is wrong."

You can crawl back under your rock now, there are still a few months left before it's time for cockroaches to come out again.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002281)

For a blogger to be entitled to the same free speech protection as a traditional journalist, then they must follow the same code of conduct/ethics as a traditional journalist.

Until then, what the blogger writes is unregulated. Personal unregulated commentary are not the same as regulated publication, and therefore the same rules can't be applied to both.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (3, Funny)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 months ago | (#46002647)

the same code of conduct/ethics as a traditional journalist.

You mean none?

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46002801)

I'm confused here. The first amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; among other things not pertinent to this discussion. But in nowhere that I can find does no law seem to imply "only if you agree to act in a certain way". Can you please point out to us where this might be? From what I can tell, no law means it would bar even the establishment of criteria in order to qualify as "the press" in the first place as it would limit who can be the press. and this is still ignoring the free speech portion of the same article that intends to limit the powers of government.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1, Informative)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#46003025)

defamation laws don't inhibit your right to free speech... you are free to commit libel just as long as you are willing to face the consequences if saying something wrongfully defamatory.
just as you are free to bear arms, but if you shoot someone in anything but self defence you face a murder trial.
every action has consequnces.
rights don't come without responsibilities. the bill of rights covers your rights... various other laws cover your responsibilities.
the bill of rights is itself merely a law. "inalienable" merely means those rights can't be transferred by force or contract, not that they absolve you of any responsibilities.
only idiot americans think they can say and do whatever they want without any repercussions.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46003167)

The problem is not consequences, it is the establishments of sanctioned verses none sanctioned. Or to put it bluntly, separate laws governing speech depending on if you are associated with a specific organization or not and having stricter penalties when any association is not legally recognized.

It doesn't matter if it is the New York Times, or Joe Simpleton who printed 500 flyers at Kinko's, or in this case, a blogger with viewers, when the laws are different, then not only is the first amendment in violation, but the equal protection clause is too. The press is not just a News Corp, it is a term that literally means printing press and several of the founders used them personally in order to sway public opinion their way. The concept of the press in the constitution is simply to disseminate information which is why it is implicitly linked to free speech by a comma and not separated by a semi colon.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#46003423)

Regardless of the case in TFA, anyone from Joe Simpleton to the NY Times can be charged with libel. The defference comes down to capacity to mount a defense.

Existing case law is often contradictory and requires interpretation on a case-by-case basis. The outcome of the case in TFA will no doubt be used in future cases, but it won't necessarily dictate the outcome of future cases.

The law seems a bit messy due to defamation being usually under state jurisdiction, which can be overturned by the federal courts but convictions have and do stick, particularly if a statement is considered defamatory "per se".

Statements are only determined to be sanctioned or not after they have already been made (is isn't always possible to know if someone is going to be libeled by something you intend to say, particularly in the age of the internet where even the most innocuous comments can go viral), so this could in itself be considered a form of prior restraint; if you want to say something that could possibly be construed as defamatory, perhaps you should refrain from saying it in case it is ultimately found to be.
This isn't necessarily restraint on the right to free speech, but is possibly somewhat related to your right to due process per the Fifth Amendment ("No person shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"). There's also consumer and corporate law, such as prevention of false advertising, not to mention national security interests, etc.

All interesting stuff :-)

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46003499)

Regardless of the case in TFA, anyone from Joe Simpleton to the NY Times can be charged with libel. The defference comes down to capacity to mount a defense.

If the first amendment means anything, the only difference in capacity to mount a defense that can be is the difference between your financial means and mine and the people we employ for the defense. Any difference in standards for implementation of a law or it's application is in violation of the entire free speech concept (let alone equal protection under the law and the 5th as you mentioned).

If the burden is knowingly false, then it should be the same for a news paper reporter, Joe Simpleton, you, me, your neighbor and everyone else in the country. When the burden shifts to a greater or lesser level because of someone's failure to be legally associated with some organization or profession, we have problems. If an evening news reporter can say X did Y while doing Z and be protected from libel, then you or I shall have the same opportunities to do the same with the same levels of protection. This portion of the case was about different standards being applied- one that would be involved if a person using their freedom of speech was associated with a news organization and one where they were not.

Now, once the case is reheard with the same rights and privileges for everyone, Crystal Cox may lose again. It completely appears that her statements may be false. The difference is that now everyone is on the same playing field and your right to say something is not less then my right due to some association or employment.

It is also worth noting that while I agree with the rest of what you said, laws such as false advertising are considered laws against fraud or defrauding the public not regulations on speech. I know that seems like an excuse, but I believe it is a distinction of importance. As for national security interests, I believe New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) took care of that with the publishing of the pentagon papers.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003295)

defamation laws don't inhibit your right to free speech... you are free to commit libel just as long as you are willing to face the consequences if saying something wrongfully defamatory.

This kind of doublethink reminds me of Irwin Schiff talking about income tax being voluntary... he asked the IRS and was told, "it's voluntary like stopping for a red light - the light turns red, and you voluntarily put your foot on the brake!"

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 7 months ago | (#46003051)

then they must follow the same code of conduct/ethics as a traditional journalist.

So instead of sticking to the facts and citing reliable sources I should just write sensational fear mongering claims.

Re: Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

Damarkus13 (1000963) | about 7 months ago | (#46003341)

ROFLMAO!

You do realize that rags like The National Enquirer and The Sun are "traditional" journalists.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003867)

The press at the time of the Revolutioanary War was a lot closer to todays blogger then it was to todays corporate owned media.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (3, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 7 months ago | (#46002255)

Fuck you! People should only get full rights if they have the threat of losing their job weighed against them? Go back to your fucking cave.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002335)

But you see, a blogger doesn't have a 'job' to lose(meaning, blogging is not their occupation), so what do they care if they write false accusations?

A journalist would be more professional - if they make an accusation, they'd have their research to back it up. Their accusation could be verified by other journalists, or from multiple sources.

The journalist would(by and large) have to follow a code of conduct/ethics, whereas a personal blogger is unregulated. The situations are not the same, so how can the law apply equally for both cases?

You really are clueless (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002431)

Pie in the sky is the most expensive kind. Journalists don't follow a code of ethics or conduct, and even if they did there is no reason that they should somehow be granted greater First Amendment protection than the common man. Nothing you said is relevant because the Constitution requires equal protection under the law for everyone. Singling out journalists as having the right to protect their sources is equal to differentiating "everyone else" as not having that right. Freedom of speech includes freedom FROM speaking, and the Fifth Amendment reinforces that in any potentially self-incriminating interaction (which, in case you don't realize, is every interaction that exists due to overcriminalization in the United States.)

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002435)

In 2008 one of your "respected journalist" wrote a story about McCain sleeping with a campaign worker, he completely made it up to smear McCain. Didn't lose his job.

Lets go up a little. In 2012 Harry Reid, Senate Majority leader, told the country that one of his frineds at the IRS told him Romney hadn't paid taxes in over 10 years. A month later Romney released tax records showing Reid a liar. Reid still has his job.

So I'm failing to see being a journalist, or even a Senator, being held responsible for lying and knowinly making up stories.

Citation needed (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46002449)

But you see, a blogger doesn't have a 'job' to lose(meaning, blogging is not their occupation)

It is if the blogger has ads on his site.

A journalist would be more professional - if they make an accusation, they'd have their research to back it up.

So does someone become a "journalist" merely by properly citing sources [wikipedia.org] ? If so, the biggest difference between a journalist and a Wikipedia editor is that unlike a Wikipedia editor [wikipedia.org] , a journalist is allowed to make an original synthesis of information from published sources.

The journalist would(by and large) have to follow a code of conduct/ethics, whereas a personal blogger is unregulated.

By whom is a journalist regulated?

The situations are not the same, so how can the law apply equally for both cases?

Because the law allows for a blogger who cites his sources and who makes and follows a reasonable code of ethics.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (3, Interesting)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 7 months ago | (#46003093)

But you see, a blogger doesn't have a 'job' to lose(meaning, blogging is not their occupation), so what do they care if they write false accusations?

I pride myself on the quality of my blog, and have the sources documentation and research to back up everything I write about. I also provide contact details so that I can retract any inaccuracies if they do appear, which fortunately has only ever happened once. I also have no editors to sabotage the final print before publishing meaning the end product is always what I intended. The same cannot be said for journalists.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 7 months ago | (#46003105)

But you see, a blogger doesn't have a 'job' to lose(meaning, blogging is not their occupation), so what do they care if they write false accusations?

"I pride myself on the quality of my blog, and have the sources documentation and research to back up everything I write about. I also provide contact details so that I can retract any inaccuracies if they do appear, which fortunately has only ever happened once. I also have no editors to sabotage the final print before publishing meaning the end product is always what I intended. The same cannot be said for journalists."

I botched the quote tags.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 7 months ago | (#46002259)

The Constitution makes no distinction between a "traditional journalist" and anybody else. When the Constitution refers to "freedom of the press", it is not talking about news media, or journalists. It is literally talking about printing presses. Just because journalists have told us that it applies to them and only to them does not mean that was what the Framers were referring to.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002479)

when presses are outlawed, only outlaws will have presses

or something like that

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 months ago | (#46002655)

Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.

In modern times, pretty much anyone can own one.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#46002775)

Well there you go, it's right there in the constitution: If you own a printing press, or work directly for someone who does, you are a journalist. Otherwise get stuffed.

Heh.

Considering the valuable and recurring role that pseudonymous pamphleteering played in the formation of the US , I find it hard to believe that anyone can claim the "The Press" is a formal institution with special protections.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003075)

...or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press

Sounds like it prevents Congress from limiting speech, OR the press. At no point is it the press only and maybe others.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about 7 months ago | (#46003145)

Well there you go, it's right there in the constitution: If you own a printing press, or work directly for someone who does, you are a journalist. Otherwise get stuffed.

Actually, yeah, I'm cool with that. We have a printer at the office, so I would count as a journalist, and given that low barrier to entry (owning, or working for a business that owns, a printing device), pretty much everyone counts as a journalist already or could quickly become one. And remember, a cheap inkjet is a faster and better printer than the best press money could buy back in 1776.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#46003235)

True, true; however, that printer isn't actually a printing *press* is it? And as it says right in the name its the *press* part that gets you protections. Perhaps having an antique printing press mothballed in your basement might qualify you, but not some piddly little printer that just anyone can get their hands on.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46003311)

lol.. The press concept was specifically because it was a way, the best way I might add, to disseminate your "freedom of speech". The entire concept of the press in the constitution is about being able to put ideas and opinions out into the world in order to influence your surroundings and government. This is why there is only a comma separating the freedom of speech, or of the press instead of semicolons which is used in the same amendment in order to separate different concepts like religion.

Justice Black wrote in his concurring opinion for 403 U.S. 713 New York Times Co. v. United States (1971) in which Justice Douglas joined

"The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments, and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable."

In this he echos the sentiment that the press is simply a way to disseminate or publish their information/sentiments. The only distinction between speech and the press that should be allowed is the distinction between the medium the speech was composed with and how many people saw it. No other legal distinction should be there and a media group verses ordinary person/citizen completely ignores the history, intend, and plain language of the Constitution.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003023)

Exactly! Finally, someone who really gets it. The First Amendment protections for the press should only apply to application of ink to paper by a pressurized plate! Take that, radio and tele-vision "journalists," and all you other new-fangled poseurs.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (5, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 months ago | (#46002263)

code of conduct/ethics...traditional journalist

Have you been sleeping for a few decades?

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#46003071)

go easy on him... he obviously watches CNN ;-)

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003349)

or any other western m.s.m. outlet... (i'm looking at you BBC)

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002529)

Wow. Sworn at, called a fascist, and accused of being clueless.

I guess 'free speech advocates' aren't really that keen on free speech, unless it is aligned with their own views.

This highlights the glaring difference between personal commentary and regulated publication, and this is why the same set of laws can't be applied equally to both cases. I rest my case. :)

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002719)

Your right talk about being insulted for your views is protected by the first amendment.

Your right not to be contradicted in public is not protected speech.

We all have the right to disagree with you, and call you a moron. You have the right not to be harrassed by us; but you do not have the right to stop us saying: "AC is a moron because he thinks Journalists are magic sauce" (assuming that we had no reason to think otherwise).

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002793)

Proving, once again, you don't understand free speech.

People have the right to say things. People do not have the right to not be offended. I'm not sure what drove you to the conclusion that because someone thinks you're an idiot is somehow infringing on your right to say something stupid. You are the only one here suggesting taking anyone's rights away.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | about 7 months ago | (#46002679)

A traditional journalist would be less likely to make false accusations in their line of work, because they could lose their job, and their employer could be taken to court.

A traditional journalist is also less likely to pursue politically sensitive stories for the same reasons. When was the last time you remember the White House press corps really hammering the President on a sticky issue?

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002699)

If a blogger makes false accusations, the one being harmed by the act are still perfectly capable of a libel suit. This is about whether or not a person has the rights to say something or not, as is guaranteed by the first amendment.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about 7 months ago | (#46003091)

the constitution ensures your right to bear arms, but it doesn't give you the right to shoot someone.
the constitution ensures your right to free speech, it doesn't give you the right to libel someone.

it's not rocket science.

Re:Anyone could be a blogger... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 7 months ago | (#46002753)

>And so a blogger could make accusations(false ones, in particular), with few consequences

Certainly. And it's a self-minimizing problem - A random person walking past you on the street could scream out random false accusations, and you'd have a hard time silencing them legally, but not many people are going to listen to them. A blogger might be able to yell his accusations in a medium where more people will hear him, but the size of that audience will be largely based on the historical value and/or provocativeness of their blog, something they jeopardize any time they make claims that are false and/or boring.

Bottom line, so long as "professionals" like Rush Limbaugh can hide behind journalist protections I don't see any reason that even the most casual bloggers should be short-changed.

A judge with common sense?! (1)

danbuter (2019760) | about 7 months ago | (#46002199)

I find it hard to believe that there is a judge in the USA who has the common sense to actually let this happen.

What about EULA's and copyright issues? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 7 months ago | (#46002249)

What about EULA's and copyright issues?

As one that ban bad press about X item / person / corporation?

Notably however (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002299)

Obsidian Finance Group has never had to prove to anyone, even the IRS, that they did not, in fact, commit tax fraud.

How does this apply to students? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 months ago | (#46002451)

There have been numerous accounts of secondary school students censored or reprimanded as well as public university students who have felt the heavy hand of administration for having their say online.

ahhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002463)

The horror!

Easy Distinction to Make (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 7 months ago | (#46002511)

"In this day and age, with so much important stuff produced by people who are not professionals, it's harder than ever to decide who is a member of the institutional press."

It's easy to distinguish those who are members of the institutional press; they never ask challenging questions of the wealthy and powerful, reliably support one of the overly simplistic two-party positions on all wedge issues, and don't publish stories like the Snowden trove until the non-traditional press has left them no other choice. These are the very reasons that the non-traditional press needs as much or more protection than the mundane, risk-averse mainstream media.

Re:Easy Distinction to Make (3, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 7 months ago | (#46002861)

These are the very reasons that the non-traditional press needs as much or more protection than the mundane, risk-averse mainstream media.

I absolutely agree with you. However, I'm not sure that this particular blogger is the best representative of the "non-traditional press." From TFA:

Cox's blogging activities have attracted their share of controversy. According to the court's opinion, Cox has a history of making allegations of fraud and other illegal activities "and seeking payoffs in exchange for retraction."

Further, if you start doing any basic internet searches, you'll find all sorts of sordid claims about this blogger. If stuff on this link [popehat.com] is true, for example -- this blogger is the kind of person who registers the domain names of not only enemies, but the children of her enemies, and then posts horrible stuff about them (apparently sometimes made up), and then sends letters asking for money if they want it taken down.

I have no idea if all of this is true, but it's clear from a number of stories -- both on blogs [wordpress.com] and in the "institutional press" that you accuse of not asking the hard questions, like the NY Times [nytimes.com] -- that the blogger at the center of this case is not just a "non-traditional press" representative or journalist. This appears to be someone who deliberately posts offensive material about people in order to extort money.

So, is this really a victory for the "non-traditional press," or an invitation for a new kind of "shake-down" scheme where the mob comes after your business and acts for "protection" money? (I haven't been following this story, so I don't know the answer to this, but this is the kind of stuff I've found with a few quick searches, so it appears more complex than a simple "freedom of the press" victory.)

Re:Easy Distinction to Make (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003019)

Call me crazy, but I consider that LESS reprehensible than what the mainstream media does every single day.

Re:Easy Distinction to Make (1)

mysticalreaper (93971) | about 7 months ago | (#46003081)

I think the court's opinon was this:
- the blogger made statements which were factually incorrect
- the blogger, in his blog postings, while making his point, frequently employed hyperbole
- a reasonable reader would conclude that this author is exaggerating for rhetorical effect, not claiming actual facts
- therefore, the defamation suit is without merit, and the rantings of this blogger are protected free speech
- You also, can say that the members of Duck Dynasty are liars committing fraud, even on a blog that many read, and have confidence the US courts will protect your right to say it. Provided you don't sound like anyone who's making factual statements.

Re:Easy Distinction to Make (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 7 months ago | (#46003347)

- a reasonable reader would conclude that this author is exaggerating for rhetorical effect, not claiming actual facts
- therefore, the defamation suit is without merit, and the rantings of this blogger are protected free speech
- You also, can say that the members of Duck Dynasty are liars committing fraud, even on a blog that many read, and have confidence the US courts will protect your right to say it. Provided you don't sound like anyone who's making factual statements.

I haven't read the court decision (yet), but if what you say is true, the story here and its portrayal in the media is a complete and utter distortion.

If the judge only ruled in favor of the blogger because she came across as a lunatic or that no reasonable person would believe her, then this is not at all a victory for "journalists," whether of the traditional kind or bloggers -- it's merely a victory for trolls and other people who say random crap that no one believes. I fail to see what that would have to do with "journalism" or freedom of the press at all.

'underground' role reversal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002615)

whosonever cannot feel the stirrings of (r)evolution please raise your mouse? both of you just keep reading thanks for being candid.

TFA makes this sound more like bad lawyering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002649)

TFA makes it sound more like the blogger is a habitual extortion artist. The firm that was accused of tax fraud should have gone specifically for defamation and attacked the character of her journalism. It sounds like their lawyers might have been able to bring forth a number of other people who were defamed and paid her off to make the stories go away. Instead they hinged their case too much on the "not a professional, and thus not entitled" argument.

Same Protections as the Press (1, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | about 7 months ago | (#46002651)

isn't saying much these days.

People in the free press are meeting with "accidents" and the "misfortune" if your article covers bankers, their cronies mischief in the NSA.

-Hack

Re:Same Protections as the Press (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002823)

The difference between the USA and every other oppressive regime in history is, this time those "accidents" really are accidents, honest.

/. in running for occupy world adjunct site? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002671)

that's going to hurt? 12hundredth most visited site in the wwworld. congratulatons rob they did it without you (just kidding). never a better time to consider ourselves in relation to momkind instead of some fictional characters from books

Freedom of Conscience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46002795)

Freedom of the Press... Freedom of Conscience... In Tony Blair's New World, you will note that the sheeple are encouraged to think THEY understand the fundamentals of such concepts, so their fundamental MISUNDERSTANDING can be used as a pseudo-democratic process gradually removing such Rights from us all.

Take Freedom of Conscience. Come Census Day in the USA or UK, the owners of Slashdot ALWAYS promote stories that inherently imply that you have no Freedom of Conscience, and 90%+ of the comments on such stories FAIL to recognise that in English speaking nations of the West, the hard won freedom of Conscience means that our governments CANNOT define valid religions, nor force us to answer questions about our current spiritual positions.

Freedom of the Press is just the same type of issue. In the USA, the Constitution PREVENTS the government from defining who is and who is not a 'journalist'. When this filthy lower court judge illegally ruled against the blogger, it did so NOT in pursuit of US Law, but in pursuit of how current monsters would have such Laws if they had their wish. Filth in lower courts do this all the time. In the Southern States, such abuse is regularly used to tilt justice away from the poor or 'black' people.

Again, for the hard of thinking, there is ZERO uncertainty about the concept that EVERY American, regardless of current status, is entitled to undertake so-called journalistic activity, with equal protection under Law. The same is currently true in the UK, but Tony Blair's people are moving heaven and Earth to change this situation. Blair's trick is to state to the English sheeple that REAL journalists must be massively insured, in case they write something 'offensive' that requires an enormous payout to the 'victim'. However, Blair's plans have been held-back because the major British newspapers have so far refused to join Blair's 'official' State-recognised newspaper publisher body. Blair intends to make such registration a legal requirement when the Labour party replaces the Coalition after the next election.

Already in Britain, bloggers go to prison for forms of editorial comment that British newspapers indulge in all the time. Blair's 'terrorist' Laws make the expression of almost any form of anti-war (or pro-resistance) opinion illegal.

America is somewhat better in this regard, but attacks against Freedom of Speech have exploded since 9/11. Americans are regularly imprisoned for long periods, for instance, simply for providing access to commercial TV stations from the Middle East that Israel and its twin, Saudi Arabia, don't approve of. Obama's definition of 'terrorism', as he has stated over and over, is "anything that offends the zionists of Israel".

The sheeple often wonder why nations like the USA allow their powerful figures to be so mocked, but the elite of the USA understand that being touchy over such forms of commentary is the hallmark of the very worst forms of small-minded, tinpot, insecure, petty dictators. The elite of the USA aspire to be so much more SIGNIFICANT in their dominance of the people of the USA. When the little person has no power, let him have the safety valve of a good rant at his/her 'betters. "Sticks and Stones..." as they say.

Re:Freedom of Conscience (1)

thexfile (3221535) | about 7 months ago | (#46003737)

Blair: Quoth the Sheeple, "Nevermore."

Yay! (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 7 months ago | (#46003321)

The Ninth Circuit totally gets it right. Any other ruling would be massively un-American.

If you limit First Amendment rights to professional reporters, then what you are REALLY doing is limiting First Amendment rights to the people who employ those reporters.

http://mgmplampung.blogspot.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46003635)

come to my blog friends
http://mgmplampung.blogspot.com

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