Blog loses ruling to protect Motorola cellphone tipster

Jan 18, 2012 By Steve Schmadeke

A Cook County, Ill., judge Friday ruled that a California technology blog doesn't qualify as a reporter and ordered it to turn over information on the tipster who leaked details about a Motorola cellphone.

Gadget blog TechnoBuffalo, a 3-year-old site that says it has a million readers a month, published images in August taken from the user's guide for the Droid Bionic a few weeks before the phone went on sale.

It has so far declined to turn over any information on the tipster, arguing that it was publishing and so is protected under journalist shield laws in Illinois and California. A spokesman for the blog, which has a staff of writers and editors, said the case is the first time in Illinois that a judge has been asked to rule whether a is the same as a journalist in the law's eyes.

On Friday, Judge Michael Panter, while acknowledging that it was "a fast-evolving issue facing courts everywhere," ruled that TechnoBuffalo isn't a news medium and its bloggers aren't protected under Illinois shield laws for journalists.

Elizabeth Bradshaw, an attorney for the blog, said she plans to appeal and the decision potentially "poses a threat to all news media, including bloggers."

The blog's president, Jonathan Rettinger, issued a statement saying he was "extremely disappointed."

In September, Johns-Byrne Co., a Niles, Ill.-based printing house, filed a petition seeking the name of the tipster who leaked the images. The company allegedly wants to pursue a lawsuit against the person, thought to be an employee, who released the images.

TechnoBuffalo asked a Cook County to deny the request, saying it was no different from a traditional like The that also covers the technology industry.

But attorneys for Johns-Byrne Co. said in a court filing that TechnoBuffalo was publishing nothing more than "commercial hype pertaining to a cellphone" and was trying to protect a "common thief."

Explore further: Facebook dressed down over 'real names' policy

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Federal judge: Montana blogger is not journalist

Dec 08, 2011

A federal judge in Oregon has ruled that a Montana woman sued for defamation was not a journalist when she posted online that an Oregon lawyer acted criminally during a bankruptcy case, a decision with implications for bloggers ...

Huffington says blogger suit 'without merit'

Apr 14, 2011

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, has dismissed as "utterly without merit" a lawsuit filed against the website claiming compensation for unpaid bloggers. ...

Media wants affidavit in iPhone raid unsealed

May 05, 2010

(AP) -- The Associated Press and other news organizations asked a judge Wednesday to unseal the search warrant affidavit used to raid the home of a blogger who posted pictures and details of an iPhone prototype.

Readers, bloggers sound off on Huff Post sale

Feb 13, 2011

When The Huffington Post was sold to AOL last Monday for $315 million, its founder, Arianna Huffington, was feted as a new media pioneer. Not everyone is celebrating, however.

NYC judge allows lawsuit against Huffington Post

May 25, 2011

(AP) -- A judge on Tuesday refused to throw out a lawsuit by two Democratic political consultants who allege that The Huffington Post's founders stole the idea for the online news website from them.

Recommended for you

Facebook dressed down over 'real names' policy

4 hours ago

Facebook says it temporarily restored hundreds of deleted profiles of self-described drag queens and others, but declined to change a policy requiring account holders to use their real names rather than drag names such as ...

Yelp to pay US fine for child privacy violation

11 hours ago

Online ratings operator Yelp agreed to pay $450,000 to settle US charges that it illegally collected data on children, in violation of privacy laws, officials said Wednesday.

A Closer Look: Your (online) life after death

Sep 16, 2014

Sure, you have a lot to do today—laundry, bills, dinner—but it's never too early to start planning for your digital afterlife, the fate of your numerous online accounts once you shed this mortal coil.

Web filter lifts block on gay sites

Sep 16, 2014

A popular online safe-search filter is ending its practice of blocking links to mainstream gay and lesbian advocacy groups for users hoping to avoid obscene sites.

User comments : 0