Subpoenas for Info on Blog Commenters On the Rise

december 5, 2008  12:13 pm
"Though handling subpoenas is nothing new for most publishers, this particular subpoena trend raises unique legal issues and should prompt newsrooms to carefully consider the circumstances in which they will fight to protect information," media lawyer Thomas R. Burke writes in a column now available in the Resource Library. As one of a few examples, he cites the case that both Portland alt-weeklies were embroiled in earlier this year, when an individual took the papers to court to gain an anonymous commenter's information. In that case, a judge ruled that the comment was protected under Oregon's Shield Law. The bottom line, Burke writes, is "that reader comments and postings to news websites are fertile sources of information and consequently, exponentially stronger magnets for subpoenas and litigation."