Internet Journalists are Protected by Law, Court Rules

In a decision that could set the tone for journalism in the digital age, a California appeals court ruled Friday that bloggers, like traditional reporters, have the right to keep their sources confidential.

A panel of three judges said in a 69-page decision that a group of bloggers did not have to divulge their sources to Cupertino's Apple Computer Inc., contending that the same laws that protect traditional journalists, the First Amendment and California's Shield Law, also apply to bloggers.

Siding with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a high-tech legal group that had filed the appeal, the judges said that Apple could not force the bloggers to reveal the identity of the person -- presumably an Apple employee -- who had leaked details about a digital-music-related project code-named "Asteroid" to a number of bloggers. The details of the product release were published on several Web logs, Internet sites commonly referred to as blogs, including Jason O'Grady's PowerPage, which reports on Apple news.

"This was a huge win for the First Amendment and for journalists who publish online," said Lauren Gelman, associate director for Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, who filed a brief supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "The court recognized that in the modern era, one way journalists publish information is through the Internet."

News source: SFGate

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