Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Legal aid scheme for online journalists launched in US

A scheme providing free legal assistance to online journalists was launched in the US last week.

The Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), which has been set up by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society's Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP), will offer pro bono and reduced fee advice on issues faced by online journalists and digital media creators.

OMLN will deal with queries including copyright licensing and fair use, freelancer agreements and pre-publication review of content, it is explained in a press release.

Publications and journalists applying for legal advice from OMLN will have to meet the network's criteria, which includes original reporting and work in the public interest.

The network, which received its initial funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, has been trialled on journalism projects that have received grants through the foundation's Knight News Challenge competition.

"Unlike established media organisations that have the resources to pursue important reporting in the face of legal challenges, many online ventures lack the expertise and financial resources to protect themselves and thrive in an uncertain legal environment," said David Ardia, director and co-founder of the CMLP, in the release.

"In order for these new media ventures to survive and flourish, they need a legal safety net, and OMLN aims to provide that safety net with the help of lawyers interested in promoting a vibrant online media environment."

The network has also created an online database to match publishers with legal queries with lawyers and law schools from across the US interested in taking on the work.


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