The Digital Media Law Project is pleased to announce the release of its report, The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals.
Since December 2009, the DMLP has operated the Online Media Legal Network, a free attorney referral service for independent, online journalists and journalism organizations. The OMLN has served as a fundamental part of the legal support structure for online journalism, assisting more than 260 clients with over 500 separate legal matters.
As a result of that experience, the DMLP has been in a unique position to observe the nature of these new journalism ventures and their legal needs. This report collects these observations, including the following:
- Those who have sought help from the OMLN overwhelmingly create their own original content, rather than aggregate the content of others. Many also provide support services to other journalists, platforms for users to talk to one another, or tools to access primary source information.
- While some clients report on niche issues, many more are focused on reporting news of general interest, either to the public at large or local audiences. Non-profit clients show a greater focus on reporting on social issues such as health and education than for-profit or individual clients.
- OMLN clients show significant evidence of forward planning. They are more often proactive than reactive to legal issues, frequently seeking assistance with intellectual property, content liability, and corporate questions before crises occur.
- Individual clients not employed by an organization, and those clients who reported on businesses or to consumer audiences, sought help defending against legal threats more often than other clients. This indicates a particular need for greater litigation assistance among these categories.
- The advice sought by OMLN clients with regard to intellectual property matters shows a near-perfect balance between protecting their own content and using the content of others.
You can download the report in PDF format here.