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Apple Case Helps Decide Who’s a Journalist

First this from a News.com story:

Apple Computer suffered a setback in its effort to plug an internal leak, after a state appeals court ruled that the computer maker can’t immediately get its hands on records of who may have contacted an Apple enthusiast site with details on an unreleased product.

It adds:

The court’s ruling is a boon to those who argued that journalists, including bloggers, should be entitled to protect confidential sources, and a setback for those who said that intellectual-property rights, in this case trade secret law, should take precedence.

“Today’s decision is a victory for the rights of journalists, whether online or offline, and for the public at large,” Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement. Opsahl argued on behalf of AppleInsider at last month’s hearing…

Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, agreed. “It’s a very important case in a couple of respects. One key respect is it addresses the whole problem of protecting confidential sources when the reporter is not a traditional mainstream newspaper reporter,” he said. The court’s ruling that sites like AppleInsider are protected by the California Shield Law is heartening for the growing legions of bloggers reporting on companies and governments, he said.

Here is more commentary from Charles Cooper at News.com:

Here is the California Appeals Court’s ruling.

There is more over at BuzzMachine including this excerpt from a New York Times story:

In its ruling, the appeals court said online and offline journalists are equally protected under the First Amendment. “We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish ‘legitimate’ from ‘illegitimate’ news,” the opinion states. “Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment.”

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