Apple, last year, sued a Silicon Valley blogger for releasing information about an unreleased product citing it was not news. They tried to force the bloggers ISP to give up the email addresses (in an attempt to find someone within Apple who was 'leaking' information). Click on the title of this entry to read the full story on Wired News (excerpt below):
- The Sixth District Court of Appeals on Friday roundly rejected (.pdf) Apple's argument that the bloggers weren't acting as journalists when they posted internal document about future Apple products. "We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes 'legitimate journalis(m).' The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here," the court wrote.
What IS big, is that this court decision sets a precedents.
It means that bloggers, or podcasters (such as those on our service at ClickCaster) have the same protections as a journalist in protecting sources.
Of course, the argument can be made that those protections are being slowly ground down by current government actions at the federal level (The "Judy's in Jail"... NYT's reporter spending a month or two in jail for not giving up sources), but, at least, bloggers and podcasters now have the same right to say no.
And ISP's won't have to give up emails to specific accounts at the drop of a hat.
Does it create an impenetrable shield? No. Does it make it harder for those who want to quash the flow of information out into the world? Yes. And that's a good thing.