Thursday, April 29, 2010

NJ Court Rules Blogger Not "Journalist"

In a state shield law case, New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Judge Anthony J. Parrillo ruled against bloggers, according to The American Culture:
Shellee Hale, who lives in Washington state, wrote in the comment section of a blog that New Jersey-based software company Too Much Media was the victim of a security breach, citing anonymous sources (presumably within the company). Too Much Media acknowledged the security breach occurred — though it said the exposure of customer information, including credit card details, was brief. Yet the company still sued Hale for defamation and demanded she reveal her source.

As Mike Masnick at TechDirt notes, Hale writes for many blogs, and has also contributed articles to several “mainstream” publications, including The Wall Street Journal and Business Week. Nonetheless, Too Much Media says it wants her sources, and maintains she does not deserve the protections of New Jersey’s shield law because she’s just a blogger. The trial court agreed with Too Much Media, and New Jersey’s highest appellate court upheld that ruling on April 22.

Before we move on, let’s note the salacious details of this case as outlined in this Law.com article: Too Much Media is a software company “that provides software chiefly used by Internet pornography providers”; and Hale posted her comments at “Oprano.com, a website self-described as ‘The Wall Street Journal for the online adult entertainment industry.’ ”

I’d hate to think those details clouded the decision process of the judges in this case. At any rate, it’s irrelevant. This decision impacts all who share their views on the Internet, and Parrillo’s decision drips with contempt for mere “bloggers.”
Link to decision, here (PDF).