Blogs

Coalition of Media Organizations Challenges Prior Restraints in Wikileaks Case

Yesterday, a coalition of organizations dedicated to preserving free speech rights on the Internet, including the Citizen Media Law Project, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Los Angeles Times, Gannett, Associated Press, and Society of Professional Journalists, filed a "friend of the court" brief in the Wikileaks case.

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Highlights from the Legal Guide: Are Your Online Activities Covered by Insurance?

This is the fourth in a series of posts calling attention to some of the topics covered in the Citizen Media Legal Guide we published in January. As we roll out new sections of the guide each month, we will highlight some of the more important topics in blog posts.

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Pennsylvania Reforms Open Records Law, Loses Distinction as Worst in the Country

Now that the Wikileaks storm has started to subside, it's time for us to catch up on some items that deserve attention (but haven't been getting it from the CMLP lately).

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed a bill that significantly reforms the state's open records law, previously regarded as one of the worst in the country.

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Making Sense of the Wikileaks Fiasco: Prior Restraints in the Internet Age

Yesterday, I reported that a federal judge in San Francisco had issued a stunningly broad injunction that brought down Wikileaks.org, a site that is developing what it describes as an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis." (I'll let the prescience o

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International Olympic Committee Thinks Blogging Is Not About Journalism

Ars Technica reports that the International Olympic Committee has lifted its ban on blogging. Athletes competing in Beijing 2008 will be allowed to blog about the Olympics, so long as they follow some, well, restrictive guidelines.

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Court Orders Wikileaks.org Shutdown, Then Grants Limited Reprieve?

Last Friday, a federal district court judge in San Francisco issued a stunningly broad injunction that brought down Wikileaks, a site that is developing what it describes as an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis."

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Highlights from the Legal Guide: Deciding Whether and How to be Anonymous

This is the third in a series of posts calling attention to some of the topics covered in the Citizen Media Legal Guide we published in January. As we roll out new sections of the guide each month, we will highlight some of the more important topics in blog posts.

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Some Thoughts on the New Net Neutrality Bill

Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chip Pickering (R-MS) introduced a new net neutrality bill before the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday. Net neutrality refers to the (surprisingly) controversial idea that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. If passed into law, the bill, H.R.

Swartz v. Does: Tennessee Couple Sues Anonymous Author(s) of Local Blog for Defamation and Invasion of Privacy

On Monday, a prominent couple from Old Hickory, Tennessee sued three anonymous defendants for defamation and invasion of privacy over statements appearing on the Stop Swartz blog and craigslist. The plaintiffs, Donald and Terry Keller Swartz, buy and sell a lot of real estate in Old Hickory, and a bit of local political maneuvering on their part seems to have earned them some enemies.

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Federal Case Law Archive Now Online and Free

Public.Resource.Org and Creative Commons announced that they've released the first batch of case material in their free case law archive. Yesterday's release encompases over 1.8 million volumes of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754.

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Highlights from the Legal Guide: Getting Your Words and Other Content Out to the World

This is the second in a series of posts calling attention to some of the topics covered in the recently launched Citizen Media Law Project Legal Guide. The first topic we took up was choosing a business form for your online publishing activities. In this post we discuss the various issues, both legal and practical, that arise when you select a platform for your online speech.

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Judge Reduces Verdict in Snyder v. Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church Still on the Hook for $5 Million

Earlier this week, a federal District Court judge in Maryland more than halved a $10.9 million jury verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian church in Kansas, and three of its leading members. Among other things, the church publishes a website at "www.godhatesfags.com" and advocates the view that God kills U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality. Westboro Baptist has gained notoriety in recent years for staging protests at the funerals of U.S.

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Krinsky v. Doe 6: New Decision from California Provides Strong Protection for Anonymous Speech

A California appellate court issued a new anonymity decision yesterday in Krinsky v. Doe 6, H030767 (Cal. Ct. App. Feb. 6, 2008). (For background on the facts of the case, see the CMLP database entry, Krinsky v.

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Bush Refuses to Fund New FOIA Ombudsman, Takes the Heart Out of Open Government Reform Law

Well, that was quick. Mere weeks after signing the "OPEN Government Act of 2007" on December 31, 2007, which significantly reformed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), President Bush is now attempting to cut out the heart of the OPEN Government Act by refusing to fund the newly created FOIA ombudsman's office.

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Highlights from the Legal Guide: Choosing a Business Form

This is the first in a series of posts calling attention to some of the topics covered in the recently launched Citizen Media Law Project Legal Guide. The first topic we'll take up is choosing a business form for online publishing activities. There is increasing awareness that, especially if you publish content in collaboration with others, it may not be smart to simply leave the relationship "natural" or informal.

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Citizen Media Law Project Launches Legal Guide

Today we are launching the first sections of the Citizen Media Law Project's Legal Guide. The guide is intended for use by citizen media creators with or without formal legal training, as well as others with an interest in these issues, and addresses the legal issues that you may encounter as you gather information and publish your work online.

The legal guide, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, covers the 15 most populous U.S. states and the District of Columbia and will focus on the wide range of legal issues online publishers are likely to face, including risks associated with publication, such as defamation and privacy torts; intellectual property; access to government information; newsgathering; and general legal issues involved in setting up a business.

For today's launch we are starting where we think you would likely start, with sections on

  • Forming a Business and Getting Online, which covers the practical issues to consider in deciding how to carry on your online publishing activities, including forming a for-profit and nonprofit business entity, choosing an online platform, and dealing with critical legal issues relating to the mechanics of online publishing.

  • Dealing with Online Legal Risks, which covers managing your site and reducing your legal risks, finding insurance, finding legal help, and responding to the different kinds of legal threats you may face as a result of your online publishing activities.

You can search the legal guide, browse by state, or simply navigate through it like a book. Because of its enormous scope, we can't create this legal guide alone. We need your help to keep the information accurate and up to date. If you see something we've missed or gotten wrong, please let us know by using our contact form.

Throughout the spring, we will roll out a new section (or two) each month. If you would like to stay abreast of new material in the legal guide, please sign up for our weekly newsletter, the Citizen Media Law Brief.

The legal guide is the product of a tremendous amount of work by CMLP staff and students, especially Sam Bayard and Tuna Chatterjee. We also received some great feedback -- and timely editing -- from a team of top lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, including Richard Hindman, Jane Harper, Kai Kramer, David Pawlik, and Eric Sensenbrenner. Our website designer, Chris Wells from Redfin Solutions, worked tirelessly on getting all of the functionality operating properly.  A big public thank you to everyone who helped!

Update: You can read the press release here

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