Earlier today the Digital Media Law Project released a new report, The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals. This report explores the large body of data that we have gathered over four years of operating the DMLP's free nationwide attorney referral service for journalists, the Online Media Legal Network. Using this data, we have been able to identify notable patterns and trends in the legal needs of a substantial cross-section of the digital journalism ecosystem. You can read the executive summary of the report here.
I am particularly excited by this report because it represents the intersection of the two core functions of the Digital Media Law Project: (1) providing legal resources to digital journalists to help them to thrive in the face of legal challenges; and (2) studying the nature of the online journalism ecosystem and the legal issues that enhance or inhibit its function. The staff of the DMLP (both past and present) and the member attorneys of the Online Media Legal Network (who routinely volunteer their time on a pro bono or reduced-fee basis) have made a substantial difference in the future of news, by ensuring that hundreds of new and innovative journalism projects did not fail because of legal pitfalls unrelated to their merit. With this new report, we have been able to leverage their tremendous efforts even further by using their service as a basis for a survey that we hope will benefit a much broader range of journalists, attorneys, and researchers concerned with the networked exchange of information online.
The DMLP is privileged to operate at the frontier of media law and journalism, and we believe that we have a duty not only to serve the needs of our particular clients but also to report back on what we have seen to inform the efforts of others. Of course, there are limits on how we can use the data we have gathered. We protect the confidentiality of network clients; this new report is presented as a statistical analysis and does not identify any particular recipients of legal assistance (except for certain of our clients kind enough to volunteer public comments on the services that they have received from network attorneys). Nevertheless, we believe that this analysis of legal issues encountered at the frontier can provide important intelligence about the evolution of news.
We hope that you find the report interesting and helpful, and welcome inquiries about our work. You can reach us by e-mail at staff (at) dmlp.com, or through our contact form.
Jeff Hermes is the Director of the Digital Media Law Project.