We formally launched the Citizen Media Law Project’s website in April 2007, so it’s about time that I provided an update on what we have been up to and where we are headed in the next few months.
First, however, a bit of background on my project. The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP), a joint venture between Harvard Law School’s
Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Center for Citizen
Media, is creating a set of online legal resources for citizen journalists.
This will include state and federal legal guides; advice on business
formation; and a database of lawsuits, subpoenas and legal threats
involving citizen media.
Over the past 6 months we got a substantial amount of work done on the legal threats database and legal guide, which covers, among other things, access to government information and electronic records, risks associated with publication, newsgathering, intellectual property, and business creation issues.
Much of this work was done by 5 full-time law students we hired this summer using funds from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The students performed legal research, wrote sections of the legal guide, and helped us create a database of legal threats. We’ve just hired 6 more part-time students during the school year as well.
In the next few weeks we will announce the launch of the CMLP’s legal threats database containing lawsuits, subpoenas, and other legal threats involving online speech. The database, which can already accept entries from the public through an easy to use input form, currently has several hundred entries and is growing daily.
In December, we plan to begin rolling out our legal guide. The first sections will cover how to form a business, insurance coverage, and how to respond to legal threats. We will put up other sections of the guide as we complete them and plan to have the entire guide, covering the 15 most populous states and the District of Columbia, available in the spring of 2008.