AirTalk for January 20, 2014

Appeals court decision extends 1st Amendment protections to bloggers

A blogger participating in the "Republic

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

A blogger participating in the "Republica 2010" uses his computer on the final day of the three-day event at the Friedrichstadtpalast in Berlin on April 16, 2010. The conference, attended by 2,500 participants, focused on blogs, social media and digital culture.

Online bloggers are allowed the same freedom of speech and protections against defamation that traditional reporters do, a court ruling declared on Friday.

The case at hand involved a blogger named Crystal Cox who wrote several posts accusing an Oregon attorney and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other illegal activities.They sued Cox for defamation and originally won until the case made its way to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court declared Friday that Cox should be afforded the same free speech protections as a traditional journalist. In the ruling, the judge said that jury could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently.

Should bloggers and non-traditional journalists be allowed to make false statements under protection of freedom of speech? How do you prove ‘negligence’? What type of speech can be considered defamatory online?

Guest: 

Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law at UCLA. He represented blogger Crystal Cox in the case

 


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