Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
Kevin Padrick and Obsidian Finance Group, LLC sued blogger Crystal Cox, claiming that Cox libeled them through a series of postings on her Internet blog. The trial court jury ruled in favor of Padrick and Obsidian and returned a $2.5 million verdict in their favor. Cox moved for a new trial, which was denied. The decision in the trial court below turned on whether she was a journalist and whether her speech involved a matter of public concern – both of which affects the standard of liability under Oregon law. We argued that trial courts must not determine whether someone is a journalist based on what a journalist’s job traditionally has been; rather, any test must be closely matched to the constitutionally protected function journalists perform. We also argued that a matter of "public concern" must be defined broadly as well, to allow for a wide range of speech on topics that affect the public.