Archive for April, 2010

Martygate Questions Grow

Friday, April 30th, 2010

A blog commenter named “Marty” left comments on the MySouthborough.com blog last fall that upset someone in the town government of Southborough, Mass. The comments apparently related to the hiring of a new police chief.

Since then, it has been revealed that the town has been mulling legal action over the blog comments, and on April 22 a FOIA request turned up evidence that the town had incurred over $3,000 in legal bills for investigating the identity of “Marty.” (MySouthborough on this.)

The latest is that Selectman Sal Giorlandino won’t say whether an investigation of eight town workers was or was not related to the Marty comments. (Metrowest Daily News, MySouthborough)

The controversy appears to derive from a September 21, 2009 blog post by Susan called “Open discussion thread: Ask questions, share opinions.” Two comments by “Marty” for that post are currently marked as “removed at the commenter’s request.”

Robert J. Ambrogi on Media Law blog offered some commentary on the case on April 1, 2010.

Bloggers Provide Early Legal Analysis of Jason Chen / iPhone Search

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Some excellent legal commentary on the iPhone/Chen matter:

Orin Kerr on Volokh Conspiracy
Paul Ohm on Freedom to Tinker
Matt Zimmerman on EFF’s Deeplinks Blog

NBA Fines Player $35K for Blogging Gripe on Foul Calls

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Orlando Magic center and two-time NBA defensive player of the year Dwight Howard has been fined $35,000 by the league for posting a gripe about what Howard sees as the unwarranted attentions of officials. Howard blogged:

I’m not looking to say anything to get myself in trouble with the league, but I just don’t see other star players getting called for fouls the way I get them. No star player in the league is outta games the way I am.

More: WESH Orlando; Yahoo! Sports; Miami Herald

Police Raid of Blogger’s Home Creates Shield Law Question

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Silicon Valley’s multi-jurisdictional task force R.E.A.C.T. (“Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team”) sounds like something I would make up for a law-school exam hypothetical. But it is not, and on Friday night, Gizmodo blog editor Jason Chen came home to find R.E.A.C.T. seizing computers and servers pursuant to a search warrant issued in regard to a prototype Apple 4G iPhone, which Apple lost and Gizmodo “found,” and then dissected and reviewed. (Gizmodo’s wrap-up.)

COO of Gizmodo owner Gawker Media, Gaby Darbyshire, says the search was illegal under California Penal Code § 1524(g), a journalist shield law. (Gizmodo’s post, with search warrant document images.)

Lyrissa Lidsky on PrawfsBlawg discusses the question of whether bloggers are properly entitled receive protection under the federal Privacy Protection Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C §2000aa et. seq., intended to squelch newsroom search and seizure.

More: Alexandra Jaffe on editoersweblog.org; Nick Bilton on NYT’s Bits blog.

A Blog Dedicated to Blog Law

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Should there be a blog dedicated to blog law? Yours truly thinks so. It has been said that pamphleteers of the American Revolution were the USA’s original bloggers, and that the First Amendment was written with them in mind. So if that’s true, blogging is the core inside the core of constitutionally protected free expression. It’s not clear, however, that the courts see things that way.

The power of the one-person-press is on the rise. I’m interested in exploring how the law is responding. The courts have long accorded considerable deference to newspapers. The question now is, when it comes to the sword and shield of the law, will bloggers will find themselves in a position superior to, equal to, or inferior to the paper-truck-and-honor-box media? There’s evidence for all three positions. We’ll see how it shakes out.