Monday, June 05, 2006

More on Apple v. bloggers

A friend points out a BBC piece by Canadian law professor Michael Geist on the recent California appeals court ruling turning down Apple's lawsuit against bloggers whom Apple accused of stealing trade secrets (my previous comment). The court ruled that online journalists were entitled to the same protections as their mainstream bretheren and that there was "no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news."

Geist's conclusion is that the ruling could have widespread effects and, as the title of his piece indicates, We are all journalists now.

I'm not as sanguine as Geist. For instance, if everyone is a journalist, then is no one a journalist? In other words, is the ultimate effective outcome that no one gets special protection, and then what is the implication for those cases where anonymous sources cannot be avoided? (One could argue, of course, that journalists have taken on too many trappings of royalty and, if no better than any other schmo, need to get back to working hard and burning shoeleather. True, but naive. In some cases, anonymous sources are needed, especially in light of the Supreme Court's whistle-blower ruling last week. Journalists' downfall has been the arrogance with which they have abused --- and allowed to be abused -- a technique that should be reserved for all but the most special of cases. It's partly a function of consolidation and cutbacks -- shoeleather takes time and money, but that's another discussion ...)

Also, this is only California. I have a hard time seeing this being duplicated in many other states, and I don't think it's ripe enough yet for the U.S. Supreme Court to accept.


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