A federal appeals court ruled today that bloggers are entitled to the same free speech as traditional journalist. This means that the line between blogger and traditional journalist even more blurred than before. This means more bloggers have protections from people suing them for writing on their personal blogs about people, news, or companies.
The case stems from a series of blog posts published in 2010 by a woman accusing a financial advice firm of fraud and corruption. One of the firm’s principals was appointed as the bankruptcy trustee to a company that had misappropriated client funds, and the woman, Crystal Cox, accused him and his company, Obsidian Finance Group, of impropriety in advising the bankrupt firm in a series of online posts.
They sued Cox for defamation. The district court ruled that because Cox did not prove her status as a journalist, Obsidian did not need to prove malice or negligence on her part to win the case.
A jury found against Cox and ordered her to pay $2.5 million.
On Friday, Judge Andrew Hurwitz wrote for the unanimous court that, especially in the age of the Internet, the distinction between traditional journalist and other speakers doesn’t matter in this case (opinion here).
Even though the net neutrality rules have been turned down, we can see that people are still protected on the internet. There has been a lot court cases recently about the internet, and how people on the internet should act or what protections they have. This case is still not over and Obsidian can still attempt to prove that the blogger was negligent or had any malice when writing the article.