21st Century Wire says…
In a show of strength a federal appeals court ruled that online bloggers, independent media as well as other members of the general public shall have the same guaranteed protection of the First Amendment as any other Journalist when sued for defamation…
This latest ruling on the Montana blogger case, should deal a heavy blow to those in government who have already launched a war on the public’s First Amendment rights over the past year through the installation of the Media Shield Law. The law’s objective is said to further provide protection for journalist’s, however, the new law will actually serve to undermine independent critical analysis, as this new-found protection seems to only apply to those in major media outlets.
The media shield law in its stated form appears to be in direct violation of the United States Constitution and against free speech as a whole.
See RT below…
Bloggers, public have First Amendment protection – US court
A federal appeals court has ruled that bloggers and the general public have the same protection of the First Amendment as journalists when sued for defamation. Should the issue be of public concern, the claimant has to prove negligence to win the case.
“It’s not a special right to the news media,” he said. “So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others,” Gregg Leslie, of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, told AP.
The federal court’s ruling came after a new trial in a defamation case: an Oregon bankruptcy trustee was the plaintiff against a Montana blogger who wrote on the Internet that the trustee criminally mishandled a bankruptcy case.
In 2011, Crystal Cox, a blogger from Montana was sued by attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, following her posts disclosing the alleged fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other criminal activities carried out by Obsidian. It should be noted that Padrick is not a public figure, so the facts exposed by Cox couldn’t inflict reputational damage on him.
Padrick and Obsidian won the case, and were granted $2.5 million.
Cox addressed the court of appeals, and was joined by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who found out about her case and offered her to represent her as an attorney in court.
“Because Cox’s blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently,” Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“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,” he added.
Eugene Volokh, who wrote an article on the issue, stated that the case ensures that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional media workers.
“There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers,” Volokh said.
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