COMMENT: Lose the Distinction: Internet Bloggers and First Amendment Protection of Libel Defendants - Citizen Journalism and the Supreme Court's Murky Jurisprudence Blur the Line Between Media and Non-Media Speakers Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2007 University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
University of Detroit Mercy Law Review

COMMENT: Lose the Distinction: Internet Bloggers and First Amendment Protection of Libel Defendants - Citizen Journalism and the Supreme Court's Murky Jurisprudence Blur the Line Between Media and Non-Media Speakers

Summer, 2007

84 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 597

Author

Nicole A. Stafford*
 

Excerpt



Introduction
 
The Internet revolution has brought a new grassroots-style speech forum - the Web blog - to First Amendment jurisprudence. A growing phenomenon, blogging is a form of self-publication that is practically seamless; as quick and easy as composing an e-mail, posting blog commentary gives the blogger the power to reach millions of readers with the click of the mouse. No doubt, the Internet has increased the overall amount of speech engaged in by average American citizens. But the Internet, and the Web blog medium, in particular, render every American citizen both potential publisher and reporter-commentator on public affairs. Thus, blogging blurs the line between media and non-media speakers. Although the First Amendment protects both categories of speakers when the subject of speech alleges defamation, the U.S. Supreme Court has never definitively stated whether non-media speakers merit the same level of constitutional protection afforded the institutional media. Given the explosion of Internet speech and blogging, in particular-the number of blogs worldwide grew from one million in 2003 to ten million in May 2005, then doubled, reaching twenty million by November 2005 1 -the question of how much constitutional protection to afford non-media speakers looms large. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 shields Internet content providers from liability. 2 Thus, every blogger and computer user that turns to the Web for self-expression and self-publication is a potential defamation defendant. Free speech advocates, bloggers' rights groups, and publishing organizations tend to perpetuate the idea that the ...
 
 
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