There was good legal news on Friday, for once. A California court ruled that bloggers who gather news and other information should be afforded the same protection as traditional journalists.
The case came about when Apple Computer sued some bloggers who revealed news about an upcoming product. Apple argued that the bloggers should be forced to reveal their source since they weren’t journalists. Three judges disagreed.
In their decision, the judges wrote: "We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace."
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
"This was a huge win for the First Amendment and for journalists who publish online," said Lauren Gelman, associate director for Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, who filed a brief supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The court recognized that in the modern era, one way journalists publish information is through the Internet."
The ruling makes sense. The lines are already blurred between news that comes out in traditional outlets like newspapers, radio, and television, and news that is released on-line. Anyone who gathers information for public distribution now has added protections.