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May 29 2011

05:07

Huffington Post blogger lawsuit: Jonathan Tasini got what he was looking for - exposure

paidContent :: Lawyers for The Huffington Post have moved to dismiss Jonathan Tasini’s novel lawsuit claiming that the popular internet newspaper actually owes money to its unpaid bloggers. Tasini got exactly what he was looking for from his free blogging, HuffPo lawyers argue—exposure—and his lawsuit insisting on payment must be thrown out.

Continue to read Joe Mullin, paidcontent.org

August 23 2010

00:18

The Legal Ramifications of Running an Online Community

Casual Blogger Hit with Lawsuit -Just a few days after I started working on the website for a new non-profit my friend is trying to get off the ground this article appears in our local paper.

Part of the purpose of this site (www.nhadsp.org) is to connect it's members to one another through a community section where users could create profiles, have their own blogs, and advertise their availability as DSP's.

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March 17 2010

16:19

November 19 2009

15:55

Citizen Media Law Project Launches Legal Assistance Network for Online Journalists

I am delighted to announce the public launch of the Berkman Center's Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), a new pro bono initiative that connects lawyers and law school clinics from across the country with online journalists and digital media creators who need legal help. Lawyers participating in OMLN will provide qualifying online publishers with pro bono and reduced fee legal assistance on a broad range of legal issues, including business formation and governance, copyright licensing and fair use, employment and freelancer agreements, access to government information, pre-publication review of content, and representation in litigation.

The idea for the network came out of CMLP's work over the last 3 years helping online journalists understand their legal rights and responsibilities. During this time period, we've published and updated our legal guide and legal threats database, blogged on topics of interest to online publishers, partnered with like-minded organizations on a variety of educational projects, and filed amicus briefs in cases with significant implications for online speech. While we are proud of the impact we've had and the success of the CMLP website, we also recognize that many online journalists and bloggers need more than generally applicable legal information--they need their own lawyers to tackle their own individualized legal issues.

The new Online Media Legal Network aims to fill this need by making it as easy as possible for online publishers to find legal help.  If you know of anyone that could use our help, please direct them to the OMLN website.  Conversely, if you are a lawyer and you want to help, please sign up!

More info on the launch is available here.

14:00

Need a lawyer? New network gives web publishers a line of defense

If you’ve gone the entrepreneurial route you know that first flush of enthusiasm often dampens when nitty-gritty decisions need to be made. There’s accounting, taxes, incorporation, insurance — and that’s the clear stuff. Toss in murky issues around trademark and branding and it’s easy to see how dreams of independence get squelched.

The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center doesn’t want those entrepreneurial instincts to wither on the vine. It’s just launched an ambitious collection of free legal resources called the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), the centerpiece of which is a matchmaking service that connects online publishers with attorneys who can address their specific needs. It’s a full-service effort, covering everything from basic business structure to contracts to representation in court.

OMLN is open to any online publisher that meets the network’s requirements. Organizations must be independent, journalism-minded, and have an eye toward sustainability either as for-profit businesses or nonprofits. If that describes your outfit, you can start the application process here.

The really good news is that pro bono assistance is available and the thresholds are generous. For-profit organizations that make less than $100,000 gross annual revenue qualify, as do nonprofits with operating budgets under $250,000. The high ceiling should cover the growing legion of bootstrapped web publishers.

“As long as their work is in the public interest, as long as it involves adherence to journalistic standards, then they’re going to be able to get help through the network until they’ve grown to the point where they are no longer entitled to free services,” said our friend David Ardia, the Project’s director.

Deeper-pocketed clients who don’t fall within the pro bono requirements are encouraged to apply, for free, as well. They’ll just have to arrange payment terms with a matched attorney.

More than a directory

Machine intelligence and algorithms can’t encompass all the variations in client needs and attorney specialties. That’s why four OMLN lawyers drive the process through extensive client screenings. These screenings need to capture a lot of nuance because applicants aren’t judged against any quantitative criteria, like page views or posting frequency.

Here’s how the matching process works: A lawyer in the network logs in to the site and is presented with client requests matching the lawyer’s pre-defined criteria (”nonprofits in California” or “clients who want to incorporate,” that sort of thing). Client names are not revealed at this point. The lawyer selects a specific request, and an OMLN staffer determines if the pairing is a good fit. If it is, the lawyer receives detailed information so he/she can check for conflicts with existing clients. The lawyer and the new OMLN client then get in touch directly and OMLN fades into the background. Either side can opt out if the match doesn’t feel right. Once the client’s legal issue is resolved, OMLN gathers feedback through private surveys with both parties.

OMLN needs to maintain balance if it’s going to be useful, Ardia said. Too many clients and online publishers won’t receive timely help. Too many lawyers and frustration mounts over lack of opportunities. Equilibrium is struck through a “slow as you go” approach that was honed while the site was being built. OMLN’s initial batch of clients was limited to past winners of the Knight News Challenge, and lawyers were invited to join based on their skill sets. Some amount of calibration will continue now that site is officially open, with the aim of matching clients and lawyers within three to four weeks of a request for assistance. That’s pretty quick considering the effort and issues at play.

OMLN itself is a 2007 News Challenge winner. It used an initial $250,000 grant to get the ball rolling, and it’s now running on two subsequent years of Knight funding. The goal is to make OMLN sustainable by the time funding runs out next October. Ardia hopes that since OLMN doesn’t bring in any money through the service, law firms and others will donate to support its continued operation.

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