The state 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose ruled Friday (May 26) that bloggers and Web masters are entitled to the same First Amendment protections from having to divulge confidential sources as other journalists. The ruling came in a case where Apple Computer was attempting to get the courts to force bloggers, such as Jason O’Grady (left) of PowerPage.org, to reveal their sources about a new product the Cupertino company was planning to launch. Apple’s lawyers convinced Santa Clara County judge James Kleinberg (right) to let them subpoena O’Grady’s electronic files in an attempt to find his source. However, O’Grady appealed and therefore hasn’t revealed his source.
One issue the case raised is whether some journalists are more worthy of constitutional protections than others. The appeals court, in its unanimous 69-page ruling, rejected that line of thinking. “We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes ‘legitimate journalism,’ ” Justice Conrad Rushing wrote for the court. “The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here. We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish ‘legitimate’ from ‘illegitimate’ news.”
[Electronic Frontiers Foundation statement] [New York Times (registration required)] [Bloomberg News] [San Jose Business Journal] [Chronicle] [Merc] [Information Week]