Six months after deciding that a consumer electronics blog was not covered by Illinois' shield law [75 Ill. Comp. Stat. secs 5/8-901 to 8-909] (see "TUOL" post 1/23/12), Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Panter has ruled that Calif.-based TechnoBuffalo.com does not have to disclose the identity of the anonymous source who gave the blog images and instructional data about Motorola's Droid bionic smartphone before the product was released.
TechnoBuffalo, a three-year-old blog that reviews products and reports tech news, filed a motion for reconsideration after Judge Panter held it was not a news medium engaged in reporting. Pursuant to Section 5/8-902(a) of Illinois' shield law, "any person regularly engaged in the business of collecting, writing or editing news for publication through a news medium on a full-time or part-time basis" is a reporter. A news medium, as defined bySection 5/8-902(b), is "any newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals, whether in print or electronic format, and having a general circulation."
Judge Panter, upon further review, said under the Act, TechnoBuffalo is a news medium and its employees, reporters. '"News is defined by www.merriam-webster.com as 'a report of recent events' and 'previously unknown information,"' Judge Panter wrote. " Similarly, Dictinary.com [sic] defines 'news' as 'a report of recent events.' Under the ordinary meaning of 'news,' the article at issue presented a report on recent events, namely the upcoming release of a new Motorola smartphone. It also supplied previously unknown information. As such, TechnoBuffalo's article falls under the broad, plain meaning of 'news,'" Judge Panter concluded.