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Shield Law Passes House, Includes “Non-Casual” Bloggers




The U.S. House of Representatives today voted on and passed a journalist shield bill which also covers bloggers. While still a long way from a law, this is an important step in the process toward becoming a law.

There is still a clause which restricts the benefit to bloggers to those who receive a “substantial portion of their livelihood” or “substantial financial gain” from the practice—and those who “regularly engage” in journalism. (This specific text is found in this PDF of the amendments, beginning on page 2, line 17.)

The bill passed its committee in August. A similar bill passed its Senate committee earlier this month. If you’ve forgotten your Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (or Schoolhouse Rock), for the bill to become law, however, we still have to:

  • pass some version of the bill through the Senate
  • have members of the House and the Senate come together in a correlation committee to work out differences between the two versions of the bill
  • have the whole House and the whole Senate vote on and pass the new version of the bill
  • be signed by the president—or at least not be vetoed

The last point might be difficult, with President Bush threatening to veto the bill. However, he has only exercised his veto four times—but three of the four have been in the last six months.

Additionally, the target date for adjournment is October 26 for the House and November 16 for the Senate. If a bill passes through those steps and goes to the president after November 6, if he doesn’t sign it into law, it will be automatically vetoed (a pocket veto).

  • http://aoleonthemartiangirl.com Anime Girl

    I am so glad they are finally treating bloggers as news people! After Apple sued Appleinsider and thinksecret last year, I was totally floored! Anyway that is fantastic news!

    [spam removed]

    -M

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    Jordan thanks for keeping track of this and for your explanations on the last post. I do hope W. doesn’t veto or allow the pocket veto to go into effect. Is there a reason he’s threatening to veto?

  • http://www.audiomecca.com/music-software/ Music Software

    Quite why GWB would want to veto it is beyond one’s understanding. This bill, simply recognizes what is a reality. Passing of this bill in the US will have beneficial impact on other countries as well.

  • http://www.u-g-h.com Owen Cutajar

    Thanks for the post Jordan, very informative. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the world pick up on this and hopefully make this sort of protection global

  • Pingback: Bloggers might get journalism protection under U.S. law at PR Works()

  • Jordan McCollum

    I assume the President’s stance has something to do with it interfering in counterterrorism efforts. (You know, like Osama bin Laden would give a confidential interview to a reporter.)

    USA Today has his statements:
    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/10/white-house-thr.html

    From what I’ve read, though I do have yet to read the entire bill itself, there are already exceptions in the bill for urgent matters of state or terrorism or something like that. (Clear and present danger, probably.)