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Court Says 'No' to Apple, Upholds Confidentiality Laws for Web Journalists

     

tedster

3:11 pm on May 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



A California appeals court ruled Friday that online reporters are protected by the same confidentiality laws that protect traditional journalists, striking a blow to efforts by Apple Computer to identify people who leaked confidential company data...

Friday's ruling is also significant because it addresses whether private e-mail is protected from subpoenas. "The court correctly found that under federal law, civil litigants can't subpoena your stored e-mail from your service," said Kevin Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

NY Times [nytimes.com]

walkman

3:24 pm on May 28, 2006 (gmt 0)



I somewhat agree with this ruling, but then everyone has a blog and it can open a can of worms. What's to stop someone from smearing another and claim "confidential" sources? Lawsuits take ages, are a pain, and most can't fund one.

Legit media, at least has some checks and balances between editors etc., but a blogger does not. But then as the judges said "We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news," so ...

[edited by: tedster at 4:51 am (utc) on May 29, 2006]

hyperkik

3:52 pm on May 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



These particular publishers did themselves the favor of not asking the court to try to define the protections available to a blogger, by insisting that they were traditional publishers who simply published in an electronic format instead of a print format. The media for a while described them as bloggers, but from everything I have read that's not a label they have ever used for themselves.

rohitj

8:38 pm on May 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



walkman, there isn't really anything to stop them--however, smart people who seek to be correctly informed take weight on the publication from which they are getting their information. This is one of the inherent problems with blogs and one of the reasons why there will always be a demand for publications who have an established reputation and set procedures for getting their information -- i.e. the wall street journal, nytimes, etc.,

Lobo

10:40 pm on May 28, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Surely the point here is to allow people to share knowledge of corporate corruption without fear of retribution.. In essence ..

Of course confidentiality must be protected in this case..

If the information is wrong or wrong and defamatory then apple can take the journalists to court, they are not saying that, what they want is to be able to bully the people that leaked the info so that others don't do the same and that kind of protectionism must not be allowed to exist.

exposure

12:13 am on May 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



The courts made the right choice. This isn't really about journalists (online or traditional). Since there never has been an "official" press, there can't be an official web or blog press. There is no test you pass to get to be a journalist. Having a "free press" by definition disallows such a thing.

Then, just because it is less expensive to publish on the web shouldn't change anything - and didn't.

Bloggers beware -- this by no means makes it lawful to make stuff up or to libel anyone. Publishing false news can still be considered libelous and that can cost you plenty!

Syzygy

9:32 am on May 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



...the appeals court said online and offline journalists are equally protected under the First Amendment.

That seems reasonable...

The ruling states that Web sites are covered by California's shield law protecting the confidentiality of journalists' sources.

Any ol' website?

Apple had argued that [the] Web sites... were not engaged in legitimate news gathering but rather were misappropriating trade secrets and violating copyrights. But... the panel disagreed.

The consequences...

[a lawyer said] "This ruling will probably prove instructive to other online writers... it says that what makes a journalist is not the format but the function."

So, any type of comment - online - can be seen, possibly - in future, as "legitimate" journalism or reportage and thus receive the same legal protection as if it were made by an informed news source - in California?

Syzygy

ytswy

11:20 am on May 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



The ruling states that Web sites are covered by California's shield law protecting the confidentiality of journalists' sources.

Any ol' website?

No, although my reading of the judge would be that any website which can be justifiably claimed to publish news would come under it:

we can see no sustainable basis to distinguish petitioners from the reporters, editors, and publishers who provide news to the public through traditional print and broadcast media. It is established without contradiction that they gather, select, and prepare, for purposes of publication to a mass audience, information about current events of interest and concern to that audience.

Beagle

2:02 pm on May 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



So, any type of comment - online - can be seen, possibly - in future, as "legitimate" journalism or reportage and thus receive the same legal protection as if it were made by an informed news source - in California?

As exposure said, in the US at least there's never been a definition of "legitimate" journalism. Ever since our forefathers handed out tracts protesting British tax practices, Americans have had to weigh the source and decide what to believe and what not to. That's certainly still true in regard to print publications and broadcast news.

The "flip side" of the ruling is that people publishing news online are also subject to the same responsibilities and liabilities as those who publish on paper, and those who publish blogs are subject to the same ones as those who publish on "legitimate" news sites. That's also always been true but not accepted by a lot of online publishers.

Demaestro

10:45 pm on May 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Being a media person has nothing to do with credentials and that is the point.

Reporting isn't an industry that requires X amount of education or that has any qualification regualtions in place that need to be met before you are allowed to practice it. Anyone can pick up a pad and a pen and call themselves Scoop and go looking for a big story to break.

This isn't medicine or law, Apple is basically saying these people aren't qualified to be journalists and therefor arn't protected as such.

I agree with the ruling they should be protected. They should also shoulder the resonsibilty about making false claims and be accountable as are other news agents.

 

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