OT: wave to the point as it flies overhead

So Gospel Commentary and Chris Unthank have been in a schoolyard throw-down (jab, slap, kick, hiss) about an Unthank post originally commenting on a recent court ruling about bloggers and their sources and whether or not the law recognizes the right of a blogger or online reporter to use anonymous sourcing. To recap, let’s go to Slate.com’s Today’s Papers feature (from this morning):

[A] judge in California ordered three online reporters to reveal their sources to Apple Computer. The company brought a lawsuit against the reporters demanding they reveal who leaked them information about a new music software the company considers to be a trade secret. Although many were watching the case to see what it would mean for online reporters and bloggers in the future, the judge skirted the issue of whether the writers could be considered journalists. Instead, the judge equated releasing proprietary information to stealing.

Now if you’re still interested, go read the New York Times’ coverage of the case. From these two bits, it’s pretty apparent that Unthank’s victory lap was a bit premature, since this case was in the first place about illegal dissemination of proprietary information in a pretty narrow corporate context and not about anonymous sourcing in blog posts generally, as Unthank mistakenly thought (or hoped?). Furthermore, Gospel Commentary can rest assured that there’s no need for anyone to be afraid, since the court ruling wisely avoided any far-reaching comment on the legal status of bloggers apropos source-protection (that is, the only people how need to worry are folks publishing trade secrets or other legally protected data). That’s probably because the judge remembered that Congress is currently considering legislation recognizing bloggers as “legitimate” journalists - which would namely mean giving bloggers the same standing in Freedom of Information Act requests as old-media print and broadcast journalists receive. Upshot: The wind seems to blowing in the direction of more, rather than less, protections and privilege for new media.

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