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Court: bloggers have first amendment protections

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posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 12:07 AM
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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the court-appointed trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.

Court: bloggers have first amendment protections

This is definitely one I think comes to be of interest to us all and in ways that touch on a wide variety of what comes up for topics around here, as it just so happens.

It's a lengthy but quite important article so I'd recommend all who write across the nets take a moment to look it over.

I'd say it's that important.




posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 01:49 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Thanks for posting that, Wrabbit. It is important, and really, an unexpected step in the right direction.



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 03:14 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


S&F
Some one has to have missed the memo.
They actually got it right for a change!



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 06:22 AM
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reply to post by darkbake
 


Indeed! I was both surprised and quite happy to see this. Other lower court decisions around the country have been mixed and downright worrisome for where protection for properly credentialed journalists drawing paychecks from a corporation start and where it ends for an individual doing similar things for motivations other than money. Some decisions in recent times have seemed to indicate that without a pay stub, so to speak, there IS no protection whatsoever.

It is nice to see not all in the Judicial system feel that way...and higher up the ladder of importance, too.

After all, history is filled with points where regular people sharing important information led to changes in the course of things, to one degree or another. We only hear about the few who rose above all and made a big mark. Plenty more have always been around in much smaller and less important ways, to make for those few. Some today are called bloggers in the electronic age, eh?



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 06:42 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


It is a ridiculous concept that you have to earn a paycheck from one of the government sanctioned mouth pieces to be considered a journalist or be covered by freedom of the press. Don't know what moron thought that one up lol.



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 06:46 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Good to hear, thanks for the thread. It's nice to see that the First Amendment still means something in the U.S., even as other nations, including England, have yet to adopt it.



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 06:51 AM
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It is a step in the right direction and all, but it isn't enough. Going by what the article says, it only protects against defamation law suits. It still doesn't do squat to protect bloggers from other things.



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 06:58 AM
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reply to post by tebyen
 


True on the limited scope of the decision for this case. The thing is, the legal system is built on relational precedent. The higher the court, the more important and easily applied the precedent can be, IMO. I think this may come to be very meaningful in other ways as other cases may come up with similar core issues.



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 08:28 AM
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judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote. "We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages."


I thought that was always the case, no matter who is being sued for defamation, no matter if it is over a "public concern", or even an individual? I haven't been following the case any, were they trying to set a new "precedent", that bloggers could lose a lawsuit without having to actually prove the case of damages? Color me confused....



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 02:28 PM
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reply to post by TKDRL
 


"Professional Journalists" have enjoyed the additional burden of proof standard of "actual malice" in cases of slander or libel involving public officials since Sullivan v. N.Y. Times where the court decided that the plaintiffs (public officials) must prove the reporter acted with actual malice in making his reports - the standard basically requires the reporter knew the information was false and published it anyway - and did so with the intent to harm the plaintiff in some way, the "actual malice" part of it. Almost impossible to prove, very expensive to defend or litigate.

Bloggers haven't really been afforded this additional protection, although truth still wins out as a defense.

ganjoa



posted on Jan, 18 2014 @ 02:29 PM
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reply to post by TKDRL
 


I think an example of the difference between any average person with an attitude and a cause vs. someone attempting to present a truth as they see it in good faith, could be put like this.

Someone with an attitude and a cause will stand outside of a restaurant which pissed them off and hold a sign saying they use dog food in more ways than Alpo. That may just be actionable in civil court. In fact, I'd almost promise it, depending on precise circumstance.

Someone presenting the same facts, in good faith will have some means to show at least a basic effort to gather facts, fact check and present with accuracy (Like a dozen empty dog food bags out back and no dogs in sight.....) not malice to slander someone with dishonesty. The motive may be similar in both examples being wronged by the restaurant.

The difference, I think, lay with the first one not being protected because truth or fiction is secondary to hurting the business and dog food happened to be the charge that sounded best, where the second one may also be wrong, but not for lack of having tried to be accurate.

At least, that's the standard I keep in the back of my mind when I wander off onto touchy ground in terms of 'target' for a story I put together or other material that could have blowback. This thread story just supports the truth in what I figured I'd fight a civil suit on anyway, if one ever comes for something I write.



posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 03:12 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


This is a good sign. The argument that has been made since the internet / cell phones / etc came about revolved around non technological media. Back in the day when only reporters had access to printing articles with mass delivery to the people the court solely dealt with media outlets and not bloggers / citizen journalists.

Now that the individual has the ability that was once reserved for journalists the courts need to clarify the older rulings to take into account technology.

I am curious how these ruling are going to affect current lawsuits by companies who don't care for negative reviews by the individual (Angies list etc).



posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 07:45 AM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 



You bring up an interesting quirk and something that does need to be sorted out too. We cannot say *EVERYTHING* online earns equal protection under any form of "press" cover. That would include things like RipOffReport or Angies List. That isn't citizen journalism but simply ranting, more often than not. Often backed by personal experience, and sometimes not. Almost always emotionally driven by personal experience though....which, itself, is a problem for 'reporting' vs. ranting, as I'd see it.

If we demand and push that everyone offering an opinion get the protections of...say..contributors here and elsewhere that put effort (whatever degree) into unbiased and accurate sharing of facts? Well, we willingly lower opinion of meaningful work to the lowest denominator of those rants by lumping it all together in the same bucket to cry for protection of.

I can see both sides, really ...and I'm glad this is for greater minds than I to sort out and settle case law with.



posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 09:48 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Some politicians were kicking around the idea of actually creating legislation that would define what a journalist /media member is. That's one option that did not go anywhere, thank god.

in this case I don't think we should define it. I think we should allow the case by case arguments to occur and allow the courts to decide on an individual basis. The moment we get a definition we are going to see people being penalized for voicing their opinions when they don't fall under the definition. Time should be allowed to create the definition with the ebb and flow of the court cases instead of opening the flood gates and drowning everything in its wake.

We finally got conflicting federal rulings on law enforcements ability to search electronic devices, which means that topic will also go before the supreme court. Hopefully they will brush up on their electronic knowledge and decide to go with the 4th / 5th amendment protections in place.

This is going to occur for Email / electronic storage devise as well so it should be an interesting next term for SCOTUS. One ruling in favor of allowing a search of electronic devices and one ruling saying get a warrant. To be honest if a person is pulled over for speeding im not entirely sure what reason law enforcement would have to seize the phone and to go through it.

To me that action is outside the main reason for the stop. once could argue speed is being used in a pre-textual manner in order to get into a person electronic devices. While those stops have been upheld, its constantly forcing law enforcement to be more precise / articulate the reason for the action.

As far as excluding opinion sites, that's where we also run into problems. People posting on angieslist, voicing their opinion, is no different than O'Reilly, Schultz, Maddow etc.. If they are going to be protected then so should the people voicing their opinions who don't make 7 figure incomes.

Either way we need to keep an eye on these cases and make sure we speak to our reps and let them know how we feel.



posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 11:58 AM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 


Wow.. You know, defining the line is a tough one, isn't it? You may be right in saying definition by regulation simply can't be done and remain on the right side of the 1st Amendment.

It's a hard thing here...because, while there has to be some line of liability between a ranting person doing real damage with lies vs. someone exposing a true problem ...that line is largely defined by intent. I.E...Thought and Mindset ..or..a thought crime, to get right down to the tacks of the difference we'd have to define.

Err.. You're right on not wanting to see it by other's ideas of how that should read and in a law book to be enforced as such.



posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 12:59 PM
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Xcathdra
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Some politicians were kicking around the idea of actually creating legislation that would define what a journalist /media member is. That's one option that did not go anywhere, thank god.


Funny part of that is that 1st amendment applies to everyone. Media doesn't have any special rights. So in the end it wouldn't even matter.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 01:16 AM
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reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Good news in a sea of bad news.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 04:45 AM
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PsykoOps

Xcathdra
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
 


Some politicians were kicking around the idea of actually creating legislation that would define what a journalist /media member is. That's one option that did not go anywhere, thank god.


Funny part of that is that 1st amendment applies to everyone. Media doesn't have any special rights. So in the end it wouldn't even matter.


Not quite correct but I do understand what you are saying and agree with it. Restrictions can be placed on the 1st amendment, like yelling fire in a crowded theatre or by posting knowingly false information in an effort to distort / affect another person (libel/slander case law).

The first amendment protects freedom of speech, religion and press. The issue rests what what is considered press? When the amendment was added the press consisted of newspapers. Now days that can no longer be argued since people can have millions of followers on the internet without ever having to print one article on a piece of paper or by ink. In addition that can be done without the person ever having to use his / her real name.

We know interpretations can cause issues, as the 2nd amendment has done the last 200+ years until 2008 and 2010, when scotus finally ruled the 2nd amendment applies to the individual. While im positive we both think the 1st amendment applies in the manner you have stated, there will be people who don't agree with that for whatever reason and will try and swing things in their favor.

IE The government suggesting a definition for what media is, asking media outlets not to report on polling information etc etc. For them its political and any action that allows people to print what they want can possibly go against their candidate. So while we think its common sense, we know in reality there will be people arguing its not and does not apply.

Its no longer good enough to say something applies and ignore actions others take to change it. For me, ignoring this topic is akin to willingly giving up more rights so the government / groups can speak unopposed.

My argument is based on the clashes between electronic devices and the original supreme court rulings, which never took into account a medium outside of ink and paper.

If bloggers, or anyone voicing an opinion, is protected by the first amendment then there would be no issues with electronic devices being covered by the 4th amendment or a person refusing to give a password by the 5th amendment. There would also have been no reason for the Supreme Court to issue a specific ruling in the manner they did. They did that to clarify the current case law because it never took into account electronic mediums. If they felt differently they would have either refused to hear the case or remand it back with an order to reconsider based on constitutional violations.

Since we have conflicting rulings, the courts will have to incorporate electronic mediums into the case law. We are going to see a massive uptick in electronic related court cases.
edit on 20-1-2014 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 05:03 AM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 


It doesn't make any sense whatsoever that a collective(the press) should be afforded more protection than an individual. It should actually be the other way around, if not on totally equal footing. But as you pointed out with the 2nd, it was made assbackwards. Lawyers have tried to murky it all up, and for their own personal gain really. It's to their financial benefit if they get more individual business, than if they just had to be hired to protect the collective once in a while. Am I making any sense?

In my mind, joe blogger should be able to say anything some talking head on TV could say. In reality, they are, but in practice they are not. You would have to have a clearcut case, or be a billionaire to try and take CNN or Fox or NYT to court. Suing joe blogger into submission however is likely to be very easy. They would probably have to just roll over, unless they were extremely lucky, or a minority. Extremely lucky as in a lawyer that was willing to fight their case probono on principal alone, a minority might just get the ACLU support probono.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 05:18 AM
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reply to post by TKDRL
 


Which brings us back to the issue of what is "The Press"?

The intent of the media is to mind the peoples business by constantly putting light on the government. We have to look at the difference between an individual right and the right of an entity (the press).

The argument, and supporting case law might I add (until this ruling), viewed media outlets as "the Press". If the intent was to combine them, then there would have been no reason to specifically mention Freedom of speech, Freedom of the Press etc.

They were 2 very different groups when the Constitution was drafted, each with their own place, so to speak.

It reminds me of the argument Piers Morgan got into with Carol Roth over the 2nd amendment on twitter from December of 2012.


Piers Morgan via Twitter -
"The 2nd amendment was devised with muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns & assault rifles. Fact."



Carol Roth ‏
"@piersmorgan It was devised 4 people 2b able 2 protect themselves w same type of weaponry used by those from whom they might need protection"



Piers Morgan ‏@piersmorgan
@caroljsroth Where exactly does it say that in the Constitution - must have missed it?



Carol Roth ‏@caroljsroth 3 Dec 2012
@piersmorgan right next to the word "muskets"


Which means the courts will need to decide what Press is and how that standard is applied taking into account technology. As we see with Piers Morgan, its not difficult to make an argument on why something does not apply or that it may be applied differently than intended.

if the constitution did not allow for grey areas, it would have failed. An inflexible set of rules almost always gets destroyed by the very items that were not in existence when the law was made.

Hence the phrase living document... hence the unfinished pyramid on the dollar bill. The symbolism there is that America will never be finished and 100% complete because there will always be room for improvement / betterment.

While we may think common sense should prevail in this area, we have seen lately how some people's "common sense" are anything but common and make absolutely no sense.



edit on 20-1-2014 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)





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