Friday, April 25, 2014

University of Washington; Lauren Guicheteau; "WHAT IS THE MEDIA IN THE AGE OF THE INTERNET? DEFAMATION LAW AND THE BLOGOSPHERE"; Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox


While blogs have become a popular source of information and commentary, the content of many blogs is subject to little oversight or accountability. When defamatory information is posted on a blog, courts must determine whether bloggers are akin to members of the media with respect to First Amendment and state law protections.

Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon ruled in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox that the defendant, Crystal Cox, a self-described "investigative blogger," was not considered a member of the media for purposes of a defamation claim.

1 Cox ran a website,, on which she published statements critical of plaintiffs Obsidian Finance Group and Kevin Padrick.

2 These statements accused the plaintiffs of theft, tax fraud, and lies. While many of her statements were seen as opinions, the court found a few to be potentially defamatory.

3 When a case involves a media defendant and a plaintiff who is a private figure, 4 the plaintiff must show that the publication of defamatory material was at least negligent. However, the Obsidian court concluded that non-media defendants are held to a standard of strict liability for defamation. W

hen the court found that the defendant was not part of the media, the blogger became subject to strictly liability for her statements to the cost of $ 2.5 million in damages. This situation highlights the impact the definition of "media" can have on a defamation defendant."