The Bergen Record is being sued for quoting a public document. Yikes.
The New Jersey newspaper wrote a story on a bankruptcy filing that contained allegations of fraud, and the man at the center of the allegations sued, claiming they were unfounded. An appeals court agreed and now the state Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the case.
What this points up is the difference between so-called traditional media and Web operations, which operate in a relatively free space. Congress, and so far the courts have largely upheld their work, wanted to nurture a free market on the Web by protecting Website owners and operators from being sued for postings by users. (Check out the 1996 Telecommunications Act.) As long as Website operators did not heavily edit or redact postings, they were largely immune from lawsuits by those who felt their reputations were damaged.
Yet, a newspaper has to spend thousands defending quotes pulled from a public document that anyone with an interest go to the courthouse and see. Again – yikes.