Blogging and your rights

Blogging and your rights

The place of blogs in society is becoming big news with a lot of stories lately about the struggle to define where they fit, when they’re appropriate, and what rights blog owners have.

For example, there are several cases of people being fired for their blogs. Sometimes it’s cut and dried; people blogging at work about work-related activities. Other times it’s a gray area. What about a blog written outside of work time, but that discusses workplace activities, but not necessarily trade secrets? The linked article talks about a Delta flight attendant fired for having pictures on her blog of her in her uniform on a Delta plane in various mild “cheesecake” poses. (Think 40s pinups.)  It also talks about the Google employee fired for discussing the company’s public financial information.

A California court is deciding whether bloggers can be considered journalists in a lawsuit brought by Apple against several web sites that post rumors about the company’s upcoming products. Apple says that journalistic shield laws don’t apply to them because they’re not journalists. The judge seems inclined to agree, already saying that only print and broadcast reporters and publishers are journalists. On what basis can he make that decision? Seems to me that such a definition should be decided by our duly elected representatives, not some judge.

  • The employer/employee situation doesn’t require new laws.  “Hire at will/fire at will” is our system for private non-union employers.  The exceptions are for discrimination in protected classes and for “whistle blowers” makes sense to me as is.

    The idea that the government needs to decide that a paper-based newsletter writer is a journalist but a blogger isn’t—that’s scary.

  • The “offical” term for being fired for one’s blogging activity is dooced, after the name of Heather B. Armstrong’s blog dooce.  Mrs. Armstrong is widely recognized as the first member of the blogsphere to have been fired for maintaining a blog.

    The most recent (and IMHO, most egregious) case of an individual being dooced is that of Joe Gordon, formerly of Waterstones.  (You can read the salient details here.  Mr. Gordon, however, has landed on his feet, having gained employment with the Forbidden Planet company as manager of their company weblog.

    The irony is rather sweet.