Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Federal Judge Rules Oregon Shield Law Won't Cover 'Investigative Blogger'

Seal of the U.S. District Court of OregonImage via Wikipedia
The United States District Court for the District of Oregon last week in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox (Case No. CV-11-57-HZ) ruled that a self-proclaimed "investigative blogger" could not avail herself of Oregon's shield law [ORS 44.510-44.540] to avoid disclosing the identity of confidential sources to the plaintiff in a defamation suit.

Obsidian sued Crystal Cox for allegedly false statements appearing on several Web sites, including her own obsidianfinancesucks.com (catchy). Among the purported defamatory content are allegations of tax fraud and fraud against the government. Cox, who is defending herself in the suit, sought protection under the shield law, contending she is a member of the media.

The federal court disagreed, noting that she is not affiliated with any print or broadcast medium. More to the point, the court cited a provision of Oregon's shield law that "do[es] not apply with respect to the content or source of allegedly defamatory information, in [a] civil action for defamation wherein the defendant asserts a defense based on the content or source of such information.” As the underlying claim in the lawsuit is defamation, the statute offers no shelter for Cox, the court ruled.

Tip of the hat to Chicago attorney Evan Brown's Internetcases.com blog for picking up on this case.

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1 comment:

  1. The test should be whether, under the facts and circumstances of the particular case, the blog demonstrates an overall center of gravity based in standard journalistic practices. The standard shouldn't be whether one is employed by a recognized media corporation. Take a look at the way Talk Left and Durham in Wonderland covered the Duke false rape accusation case, and compare it to how outlets such as the NY Times covered the case, and you will see that sucking at Sulzberger's (or any other traditional media company honcho's) teats does not a journalist make.