Pubdate: Thu, 20 Dec 2001
Source: Lima News (OH)
Copyright: 2001 Freedom Newspapers Inc.


Internet scribblers have the same First Amendment protections as those in 
print and other media, the New York State Supreme Court ruled Dec. 10.

"In the widely watched case of the National Bank of Mexico against," reported, "the court ruled that online 
journalists reporting on matters of public importance, like their 
colleagues in other media, can only be found guilty of libel if their 
actions are deemed malicious. ...

"... The Bank of Mexico - also known as Banamex ... - initiated its lawsuit 
against the drug-war investigative reporting Web site in New York state 
court last year, when Narconews published reports linking Banamex's 
then-president with narcotics trafficking. Banamex charged these 
allegations were false and libelous."

New York Supreme Court Justice Paula Omansky wrote, "The nature of the 
articles printed on the Web site ... constitute matters of public concern 
because the information disseminated relates to the drug trade and its 
effect on people living in this hemisphere."

It would make no sense to treat Internet journalism different from printed 
journalism." Indeed, most major newspapers nowadays, including The Lima 
News, put out Internet editions. Are our online stories less protected than 
the same stories in print? Obviously not. Likewise, strictly online 
enterprises, such as, should receive the same protection.

State supreme court rulings generally apply only to the specific state 
involved. But much-watched cases like this one can have a national 
influence as bellwethers. And such cases can be cited elsewhere in court 
rulings from the bench.

The Internet is not an abridgement of the First Amendment, but an extension 
of it.
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