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[berkman] David Ardia: Citizen Media Law Project

David Ardia is giving a Berkman lunch talk on the Citizen Media Law Project. David begins by acknowledging his colleagues on the project, which has been student-driven to a large degree. [Caution Live-Blogging: I’m missing things, getting them wrong, etc. You will be able to see the session itself at Media Berkman. ]

David begins by looking at, a citizen journalism, the neurodiversity weblog, and wikileaks. These sites have come to the attention of CMLP because they are citizens media sites that have little or no journalism training, little or know knowledge of media law, and not a lot of money. The CMLP grew out of a desire to provide resources for groups like these. (Dan Gillmor was one of the forces behind this, says David.)

CMLP began in April 2007, got a Knight News Challenge Award in May, published its legal threats database in Nov, launched their legal guide in Jan. 2008, and in Feb. did its first amicus filing (for Wikileaks).

The legal guide site has lots and lots of material in it, covering six topics: forming a business and getting online, dealing with online legal risks, newsgathering and privacy, access to government info, intellectual property, and risks associated with publication. There are 5-10 topics under each of these. There’s a lot there.

David walks through the site. There is a rich variety of ways of finding and browsing. In David’s example, the site explains how to create a non-profit corp., and actually steps you through the process, including the specifics for the fifteen states the guide covers so far.

The legal threats database has 25 attributes by which it can be searched. Users can contribute their own entries, although most come in through email. (They also import data from the Chilling Effects site.) The database does not make judgments about the threats. There are 467 entries in the database. Over half are law suits. They include threats to bring criminal charges (16) or to bring disciplinary action (18); that last is included because the legal system backs up the contracts that permit disciplinary action. David explains that the site takes an inclusive approach since you can easily narrow your queries to the areas that interest you. [A good “miscellaneous” principle!]

Factoids: California, which has 12% of the population, is the source of 21% of the threats. 30% of the legal claims are for defamation. Copyright infringements come in second with 8%.

93 of the law suits are pending. 40 settled. The plaintiffs got an injunction in 16 of the cases and won their cases 13 times. That’s not a lot out of more than 250 cases. David says that these sorts of results are fairly normal for law suits, although (he adds) these tend to be emotion-driven litigations, not money-driven.

David gives us a tour of the iBrattleboro case entry. It’s a very well-organized, thorough research on the topic.

David ends by posing some questions for expanding the database and opening it up. [Tags: ]

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