Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Court of Appeals holds that defamation plaintiff must show negligence (at least) in order to recover against blogger

A few days ago, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided an important new case on defamation.  The court held that Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 350 (1974) (holding that the First Amendment requires non public figure plaintiffs in defamation cases to meet at least a “negligence standard”), is not limited to cases with institutional media defendants. Thus, the court held that the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find the defendant blogger liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently.  The case is Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Crystal Cox, and the opinion is available here.

 As reported by the First Amendment Center: "In a landmark decision on Friday, a federal appellate court held for the first time that blogs enjoy the same First Amendment protection from libel suits as traditional news media. ... While the Supreme Court has previously observed that the lines between traditional news media and native web content have become blurred, this makes the first time that federal appellate court has essentially said that journalists and bloggers are one and the same when it comes to the First Amendment."  For more on the case go here.