Refuses shield law for message board scribblers
The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a blogger accused of defamation over comments on an online message board cannot have the same protections as a journalist.
The New Jersey press shield law protects journalists from revealing their confidential sources.
The court refused extending the press shield law for blogger Shellee Hale, who criticised a software company on a porn industry message board.
Hale had accused Too Much Media LLC of profiting from a security breach that exposed personal information of customers in an online forum. The company makes software for pornographic websites.
Hale also wrote that the company’s owners had threatened to kill people who questioned their conduct.
Subsequently, she was sued by the company for defamation.
Hale, a private detective and former Microsoft employee, claimed that she created the forum as an "information exchange" aimed to expose criminal activity in the porn industry.
However, the court refused her the protection meant for journalists.
"(We) do not believe that the legislature intended to provide an absolute privilege in defamation cases to people who post comments on message boards," the court wrote.