Another court declares that bloggers are indeed media

While my own case winds slowly through the judicial process, being opposed now by two recently appointed barristers, we can now see that other jurisdictions are catching up with developments in the media world.

In a court in Florida, in a similar case to my own, the court has found that a blogger and their blog can be and are considered to be media, and as a result can be considered a legitimate media property.

A few years ago, we wrote about the bizarre and quixotic effort by Florida businessman Christopher Comins to find any possible way to sue University of Florida student and blogger Matthew Frederick VanVoorhis for his blog post concerning a widely publicized event in which Comins shot two dogs in a field (video link). The story made lots of news at the time, but Comins didn’t go after any of the major media — instead targeting VanVoorhis for a defamation suit. The original blog post is “novelistic” but it’s difficult to see how it’s defamatory. Either way, Comins’ case was shot down on fairly specific procedural grounds: namely that Florida defamation law requires specific notice be given to media properties at least 5 days before a lawsuit is launched. Specifically, the law says:

Before any civil action is brought for publication or broadcast, in a newspaper, periodical, or other medium, of a libel or slander, the plaintiff shall, at least 5 days before instituting such action, serve notice in writing on the defendant, specifying the article or broadcast and the statements therein which he or she alleges to be false and defamatory.

Comins’ lawsuit was dumped because he failed to give such notice. Comins argues that he did give such a notice (though the letter he sent did not meet the requirements of such notice under the law) and (more importantly for this discussion) that VanVoorhis’ blog did not count as a media publication, and thus the law did not apply. The original court ruling rejected that pretty quickly, and now on appeal, a state appeals court has not just rejected Comins’ anti-blog claim more thoroughly, but also highlighted the importance of blogs to our media landscape.   Read more »

Wednesday nightCap

Another Labour policy stuff-up

When even your own team is starting to do public facepalms highlighting your stuff-ups, they really, really want you gone.

The whiteanting continues at No Right Turn:

Over the weekend, Labour leader David Cunliffe announced plans for a “digital bill of rights”, to protect access to the Internet and outlaw warrantless surveillance. Which is good, but then there’s this bit:

“It would also guarantee freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, while still outlawing hate speech.”

This sounds good – but its actually an erosion compared to what we have at present. Those freedoms, whether offline or on, are currently protected by the BORA.

But hate speech isn’t outlawed in practical terms (there is a crime of inciting racial disharmony, but there was only a single prosecution under the 1971 Act, and the consensus now is that the BORA has made it almost impossible to prosecute).

So that “still” hides a massive crackdown on online expression. It may be expression we don’t like, that we find hateful and offensive [ Are you thinking Whaleoil here?  I am! ], but that doesn’t justify outlawing it, any more than it justifies outlawing rickrolling.

Which means the answer to Labour’s proposal has to be “no thanks”.

Good luck with that election-thing.

The Labour Party really should run these ideas past people before testing them out on the public.  I know, it’s a lack of money, but it shows that time and time again, the internal knowledge of the Labour Party isn’t sufficient to do an adequate job.

And anything coming from Kim Dotcom Clare Curran… experience should teach them that nothing goes public without a good proof read by someone outside of the Labour Party.  ([email protected])


Yeah…. nah.

(points for the apostrophe though!)


- No Right Turn

Radio Live interviews on blogging and bloggers

RadioLive’s Wallace Chapman was looking at bloggers,new media and the elections this year. He talked to a few bloggers.

This was my interview.

Read more »

Daniel Hannan nicely sums up MSM v Blogs

Daniel Hannan explores and explains the sometimes unhappy relationship between traditional media and blogs…from his own blog, that is ironically part of The Telegraph.

Back in the pioneering days, blogs were seen as a challenge to the established media. And, in one sense, they were. When Guido scalped his first minister, Peter Hain, in 2008, something changed, though the newspapers were slow to notice. When, the following year, he aimed his tomahawk at Derek Draper and Damien McBride, old-style pundits were still laboriously explaining to their readers what these blog thinggies were. By the time Tim Yeo became Guido’s latest victim, no one needed to ask any more.

When a dozen dead tree newspapers determined the agenda, the media’s chief power lay in not reporting a story – not through conspiracy, but from shared assumptions about what constituted news. Take the leak of the “hide the decline” emails from climatologists at the University of East Anglia in late 2009. At first, the astonishing trove was reported only by bloggers. It wasn’t that environment correspondents were meeting behind drawn blinds and vowing to repress the discovery; it was that, being uncomplicated believers in the AGW orthodoxy, they couldn’t see why the emails were a story. Only when repeatedly needled by online commentators were they were eventually forced to report perhaps the biggest event in its field of the century.

The key moment came when the story was picked up by James Delingpole, whose post attracted 1.6 million hits. Tellingly, that post appeared here, on Telegraph Blogs. Blogs were now part of the established media. In the early days, some had believed that the MSM would be displaced, others that the old brands would conscript the upstarts. In fact, something more interesting happened: the distinction broke down.   Read more »

Pre vs Post Internet

Caution: language

Cat crossbow shooter threatened on Internet; gets name suppression?


via 3 News

via 3 News

First, points to the “teenager” for trying help Gareth Morgan in getting his dead-cat-quota. 

Why is it OK for Gareth Morgan to try and save all the native birds, but when someone actually helps out, he’s a villain?

Moomoo the cat was left with a bolt through his head after the incident.

He had to have surgery at Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital to remove it.

Donna Ferrari, Moomoo’s owner, appealed to the public following the incident, handing out flyers in her neighbourhood asking whether anyone knew about what had happened to her 4-year-old pet.

Yeah, but Donna appears to have started a, dare I say it, feral vigilante Internet movement   Read more »

Does anyone still read the news?

Apparently not according to research by Microsoft. 

If analysts at Microsoft Research are correct, a startling number of American Web users are no longer paying attention to the news as it is traditionally defined. In a recent study of “filter bubbles,” Sharad Goel, Seth Flaxman, and Justin Rao asked how many Web users actually read the news online. Out of a sample of 1.2 million American users, just over fifty thousand, or four per cent, were “active news customers” of “front section” news. The other ninety-six per cent found other things to read.

The authors defined an active news customer as someone who read at least ten substantive news articles and two opinion pieces in a three-month period—if you remove the requirement of reading opinion pieces, the number of news readers climbs to fourteen per cent. The authors studied U.S.-based Web users who, between March and May of 2013, accumulated a total of 2.3 billion page views.

News can be a vague category; the authors defined by collecting news sites with appreciable traffic (the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Fox News), blogs (Daily Kos and Breitbart), and regional dailies (the Seattle Times and the Denver Post). Using “machine learning” algorithms, the authors separated what, based on word usage, they considered front-section news from the other content on news sites, like sports, weather, life style, and entertainment. What’s left is the narrow, classical news article, about, say, the State of the Union, as opposed to one about the latest adventures of Justin Bieber or Farrah Abraham.

Various influences shaped the study. The data was collected only from Internet Explorer users (who, the authors say, tend to be slightly older), and it represents only those who agreed to make their Web-browsing history available. Additionally, just because people don’t surf news Web sites doesn’t mean that they don’t get news from other sources, like physical newspapers, talk radio, Twitter, “The Colbert Report,” or the evening news.

That said, the sample size, 1.2 million, is impressive—far greater than that of a typical survey. And the number of people whom the study shows to be paying attention to the news online is consistent with the low ratings of cable news during the same period. Also, as opposed to relying on what people said they did, the Microsoft researchers drew on a record of what they actually did, which is significantly different. In a 2012 Pew survey, for example, thirty-nine per cent of people said that they had read news online the day before. The difference between the two numbers—fourteen and thirty-nine—may, in part, reflect different definitions of “news.” (The Pew survey did not define the term.) And, of course, what people like to think they do is often different from what they do.   Read more »

Has the tide turned?

John Drinnan in the NZ Herald, normally part of the Kim Dotcom cheerleader squad has written what could only be called a hostile piece on media coverage of Dotcom.

Media coverage of Kim Dotcom and his businesses has missed the point and needs to be “more robust” now he has formed his own political party, says the head of the Copyright Council.

Paula Browning, the council’s chairwoman, says media have been caught up in public relations hype, and focused on the raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion and his fight against extradition.

Other issues involving the German-born magnate – the charges against him and the issues surrounding file sharing – had received less coverage.

Media had been fascinated by parties around the Dotcom pool and events heavily promoted on social media, all designed to boost Dotcom’s profile.

“Some publications you would expect better of have been less than balanced in their coverage and very open to attending parties at the mansion,” she said.

She did not name names, but the Herald and TV3′s Campbell Live have been the highest-profile media reporting on Dotcom.  Read more »

Leopards never change their spots

MEGA was busted with illegal copies of Eleanor Catton’s Luminaries on their servers, at the time they blamed me and a full court press all out attack ensued from Vikram Kumar and their tame reporter at the Herald. Not a shred of evidence was provided to match their allegations…despite my challenge at the time.

Now TV3 has run an investigation and they are still up to their old tricks.

A 3 News investigation has raised questions about the amount of copyrighted material available on the file-sharing website

Numerous files on the site appear to be films, music and television programmes, including New Zealand-made content, all available to download for free.

But founder Kim Dotcom says Mega’s done nothing wrong.

First there was Megaupload. Then came the raid and the shutdown of the site. A year later Mega rose from the ashes in true Dotcom extravagance.

And now, a year on, it seems file-storing site Mega is being used like its predecessor was.

“There’s a difference between running a business that is purely for legitimate reasons and one that gives other people an opportunity to engage in illegal activity, and file-sharing sites do that,” says Copyright Council of New Zealand chairwoman Paula Browning.

Mega doesn’t allow users to search for content directly on its website but at least three other websites do. The sites can search for Mega links that have been posted online by its users, many of which appear to lead to copyrighted films, music and computer programs.

One US-based site has more than 500,000 links. Some are dead, but most tested by 3 News work.

New Zealand-produced titles, including Lorde’s music and The Hobbit films, are included in the long lists of link names available to download for free on Mega.  Read more »