Monday, December 22, 2014

Obsidian v. Cox, Crystal Cox Case; "Court of Appeals says bloggers may enjoy same free speech protections as journalists"

"The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled today that a blogger should enjoy the same free speech protections as a journalist, and ruled that the blogger, Crystal Cox, deserved a retrial on her defamation case.

“As the Supreme Court has accurately warned,” the court said, “a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: ‘With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media . . . the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred,’” said the court, citing the Citizens United case (PDF).

“Because Cox’s blog post addressed a matter of public concern… the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently.”

The case at the center of the ruling involved the blogger Crystal Cox who wrote accusing a bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of tax fraud. A lower court ruled that because Cox failed to provide evidence that she was a journalist that she was not protected in the same way a reporter would be – that is, the person would have to prove that the author knowingly knew the information was false when it was published."