A California appeals court handed a huge victory to bloggers last week, ruling that from the standpoint of the law, bloggers are essentially the same as regular journalists and entitled to the same protections.
The three-judge panel in San Jose overturned a trial court’s ruling last year that to protect its trade secrets, Apple was entitled to know the source of leaked data published online. The appeals court also ruled that a subpoena issued by Apple to obtain electronic communications and materials from an Internet service provider was unenforceable.
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.”
The ruling states that Web sites are covered by California’s shield law protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
Let’s hope other states follow that precedent if other cases should arise.