Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apple iPhone Search Raises Question: Are Bloggers Journalists?

If so, Gizmodo argues, bloggers such as Jason Chen are protected by California's journalism shield law:
Police Seize Jason Chen's Computers
Last Friday night, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo. According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.
IMHO, the language in the code, "or other periodical publication," ought to cover blogs and bloggers. The clear definition of the word publication is to make something public--not to print on paper. See Wikipedia's definition:
"To publish is to make content publicly known. The term is most frequently applied to the distribution of text or images on paper, or to the placing of content on a website."
Yet, copyright law does not reflect this fact, according to Ray Ming:
RayMing Chang, Publication Does Not Really Mean Publication: The Need to Amend the Definition of Publication in the Copyright Act, 33 AM. INTELL. PROP. L. ASS'N Q.J. 225: This article analyzes the definition of publication in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 and finds strong support for the proposition that electronic dissemination (e.g., "Internet publishing") of works does not result in publication under American copyright law. This article argues that the definition of publication needs to be amended to explicitly include electronic dissemination.
The Apple case presents a chance for the courts to weigh in on the status of blogs and bloggers...