Appeals court backs bloggers’ First Amendment rights

Appeals court backs bloggers’ First Amendment rights

Bill of rights, wikimediaThe First Amendment protects, among other things, “the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Yet modern governments, less solicitous of our liberties than the Founding Fathers, keep trying to curtail those  rights. The latest gimmick is to insist that only the Main Stream Media are protected by the First Amendment. That blogs, like this one, can be censored by the government.

Fortunately, the courts seem to be siding with freedom. A Florida state Circuit Court recently held that bloggers enjoy the same First Amendment protections as other members of the media. Gigaom reported:

“Under state law, anyone who wants to pursue a defamation case has to notify the media outlet in question five days before filing. But Christopher Comins argued he didn’t have to do so in the case of a blog post from university student Matthew VanVoorhis, because blogs aren’t a traditional form of media and therefore aren’t entitled to notice.

“As Techdirt notes, Comins’s argument was thrown out by the original court, but he appealed. Now, an appeals court has upheld that decision — and in the course of doing so, the judges in question chose to provide some great commentary on the importance of blogging as a form of media.”

Here’s the key section from the court decision:

“The advent of the internet as a medium and the emergence of the blog as a means of free dissemination of news and public comment have been transformative… the impact of blogs has been so great that even terms traditionally well defined and understood in journalism are changing as journalists increasingly employ the tools and techniques of bloggers – and vice versa.”

Indeed, as Gigaom noted, a Pulitzer Prize just was awarded to blogger Glen Greenwald for reporting on Edward Snowden’s revelations that the government spies on all of us, all the time, in violation of our Fourth Amendment rights. (Albeit the blogs also were published in two print newspapers; but most of us read Greenwald’s articles on his blog.)

Freedom is indivisible. Bloggers, fortunately, also are protected by the First Amendment.

Tags assigned to this article:
bloggingFirst AmendmentJohn SeilerGlenn Greenwald

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