I'm happy to report that the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society has named me as a Fellow for the upcoming year. The center has been doing important work in understanding how law intersects with the online world, and I hope to spend some serious time in the next few months on key issues.
One such issue is copyright. The entertainment cartel seeks to ban or control technologies that might be used for infringing purposes even when those technologies, such as peer-to-peer file sharing, have entirely legitimate purposes. P2P is an absolute necessity for grassroots journalism's survival, as are other technologies that are now or may soon be in jeopardy from these attacks.
Another big issue is defamation. Bloggers have no more right to defame people than mass-media journalists, for example; we are responsible for our words. We need to help people understand what's legitimate and what's not.
But bloggers and other grassroots journalists typically have far fewer resources to fight back when unfairly treated, such as a baseless libel suit or other legal action that is designed to -- or has the effect of -- attacking free speech.
Led by Robert Cox, the new Media Bloggers Association (I'm a charter member) has been working on this already. It's launching a Legal Defense Fund for bloggers, a good first step. Grassroots media could be stifled if we don't figure this out.
I hope to pull together a day-long conference at Stanford later this year, bringing in experts in copyright and First Amendment law, grassroots journalists and others who care about this subject. If you might want to be part of this or help sponsor it, let me know.