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Legal threats on the horizon for US bloggers

Legal threats on the horizon for US bloggers

Thanks to Christopher Cross of Lost in America we’ve become aware of a number of issues that have the potential to threaten free speech for US bloggers:
1. Proposed Bill (H.R. 3261) holds the probability of being passed. The bill may impose serious consequences on blog publishers in part by the specific provisions in the Bill and will see Internet commuication regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the Register of Copyrights.
2. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing case that involves the Rick Ross Institute and a Cult. The significant aspects of this case is that one of the issues raised is whether or not weblog publishers may publish alleged legally confidential material from confidential informants. It is believed that the Supreme Court will deny an actual hearing and in doing so the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling will stand that found that blog publishers cannot publish alleged legally confidential material for confidential sources.
3. In September 2004 the Federal Election Commission filed its’ Notice of Appeal to the U.S. Dictrict Court District of Columbia ruling in 2002 in regards to its interpretation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2001. The FEC is making a strong play to have jurisdiction specifically over Internent communication and inparticular blog publisher’s who engage in policitical discussions or news reporting.

Whilst not legal experts on US law the issues are none the less concerning.

View Comments (3)
  • One of the things that makes blogging so useful is the ability to siphon any story from the web with little hassle, reprint a portion, and link to the rest. If the newspapers (for instance) really start cracking down on use of their ‘property’, the ability of the blogosphere to distill and disseminate info will be hamstrung.

    Slippery slope and all that with these provisions you mention, I’d guess.

    I just hope the days of writing in depth bibliographies for every idea never pass in blogville. Giving credit where due is one thing, but going through a thousand hoops to satisfy some legal requirement is another. Screw bibliographies…

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