The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, December 17, 2004

The Dodd journalist shield bill, etc

The bill, S 3020, the Free Speech Protection Act of 2004, was dead before it was written, but is not without interest.

The core provision, ยง3(a)(1), privileges a covered person in respect of
the source of any news or information procured by the person, or any information that would tend to identify the source, while providing services for the news media, whether or not the source has been promised confidentiality;

A covered person is defined as
a person who--

(A) engages in the gathering of news or information; and

(B) has the intent, at the beginning of the process of gathering news or information, to disseminate the news or information to the public.

And news media as, inter alia,
any printed, photographic, mechanical, or electronic means of disseminating news or information to the public.

That seems to cover the common or garden political blogger: there is no requirement that the activity in which the information sought was obtained should constitute any sort of business or profession, or have been done for profit [1].

(The Valerie Leggett problem would, it seems, not arise with the Dodd shield.)

I'm sure the Dodd bill will reappear in some form in the 109th.

Meanwhile, I've added some materials on reporter's privilege/journalist's shield to those listed in my October 12 piece.

  1. The definition quoted for news media is a general one at the end of a list of regular media sources. There's a statutory interpretation issue there, clearly: must the scope of the sweep-up definition be limited by the nature of the other items in the list? (There is a whole bunch of Latin tags to plonk here - in the Stephen Potter sense - that escape me for now.)

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