Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”     Barry Goldwater

January 30, 2007

California Court Extends First Amendment Rights To Bloggers

by Doug Mataconis

In a first-of-it’s-kind ruling, a California Court has ruled that bloggers are entitled to the same First Amendment rights extended to journalists:

Santa Clara, CA (AHN)-In a landmark ruling in favor of bloggers and cyber journalists, a Santa Clara County Court defended the First Amendment rights of online journalists to protect their confidential sources, effectively giving web journalists the same protections afforded to traditional print journalists.

Apple Inc., had issued subpoenas to online tech journalists, including the publisher of AppleInsider.com and PowerPage.org, over reports the company claimed “violated California state trade secret law” which divulged so-called confidential information about not-yet released Apple products. Apple claimed the journalists were not entitled to First Amendment protections similar to those afforded to their print counterparts.

However, a California court disagreed, ruling against Apple and in favor of the defendants, who were represented by legal counsel from The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Apple was ordered to pay all legal costs associated with the defense, including a 2.2 times multiplier of the actual fees, bringing the total to about $700,000.

The ruling was hailed by web journalists and EFF staff members as a legal victory in the battle to defend and protect the rights of online journalists.

Kasper Jade, publisher of AppleInsider.com, one of the defendants in the case, said, “The court’s ruling is a victory for journalists of all mediums and a tremendous blow to those firms that believe their stature affords them the right to silence the media. Hopefully, Apple will think twice the next time it considers a campaign to bully the little guy into submission.”

Time to start removing the word citizen from that phrase “citizen journalist.”


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