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Court Victory Gives Blogger Same Speech Protections As Traditional Press 137

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-traditional-journalism dept.
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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Court Victory Gives Blogger Same Speech Protections As Traditional Press

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2014 @10:15PM (#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.)

  • by crutchy (1949900) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:33AM (#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.

  • by sirwired (27582) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @09:10AM (#46004547)

    This victory is important, and handily demonstrates the impartiality of the circuit court judges involved, and Eugene Volkoh's intestinal fortitude. Why? Chrystal Cox is, to be frank, a horrible person. A nutjob. A known extortionist. The trial that will now take place will be a waste of everyone's time and money (she's going to lose), and it's unlikely the plaintiff's will be able to recover they now-extensive legal costs and the damages they are almost certainly due.

    Example: She decided to go on a vendetta against Marc Rendazza (who, ironically, is a well-known civil-liberties attorney)... First, she asked Marc Rendazza to pay for her "reputation management services." When he hold her to take a hike, she got revenge by posting all sorts of utterly made-up horrible things about his 3-year-old daughter.

    Make no mistake, when this does go to trial, she's going to lose, and she's going to lose hard. All she won here was an acknowledgement that despite being a horrible person, and despite the fact she's being sued for doing the exact same sort of thing she's done in the past, the defamation has to be proven in a court instead being assumed because she isn't a professional.

    Now that the 1st-amendment issues have been settled, will Volkoh now drop her like a hot potato?

    On one hand, I can see what the court is getting at here, but in terms of practical effect, it could be ugly. As if we needed more reasons to not trust anything we read on the internet.

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