Friday, March 11, 2005

Bloggers or reporters: Lawsuit's can of worms

NY Times: "In the physical world, being labeled a journalist may confer little prestige and may even evoke some contempt. But being a journalist can also confer certain privileges, like the right to keep sources confidential. And for that reason many bloggers, a scrappy legion of online commentators and pundits, would like to be considered reporters, too.

A lawsuit filed in California by Apple Computer is drawing the courts into that question: Who should be considered a journalist?

The case, which involves company secrets that Apple says were disclosed on several Web sites, is being closely followed in the world of online commentators, but it could have broad implications for journalists working for traditional news organizations as well. If the court, in Santa Clara County, rules that bloggers are journalists, the privilege of keeping news sources confidential will be applied to a large new group of people.

Apple has long had a devoted following, and leaked information about new Apple products has appeared on Web sites for years. To combat this, the company filed the suit late last year against the sources of these leaks, people the company assumes are employees or contractors.

Apple has asked the court to compel the Web sites that displayed the product information to disclose their identities. Bloggers are fighting Apple's efforts, which it has focused on three Web sites -, and

Not all blogs are equally influential and not all blogs even try to report, Balkin added. "There are millions and millions of blogs, and most of them are for gossip," he said."

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