Back in January, I announced the launch of the first two major sections of the Citizen Media Law Project’s Legal Guide covering Forming a Business and Getting Online and
Dealing with Online Legal Risks. This past month we began rolling out the section on Newsgathering and Privacy, which addresses the legal and practical
issues you may encounter as you gather documents, take photographs or
video, and collect other information. Here is a quick rundown of the sections we’ve just published:

  • Entering the Property of Others discusses your rights to access public and private property and
    provides some guidance on how to avoid legal liability for trespass.
  • Gathering Private Information outlines the various privacy laws that may limit your ability to gather private
    information or otherwise intrude into another person’s private space.
  • Recording Phone Calls, Conversations, Meetings and Hearings discusses federal and state laws relating to the use of recording devices in specific private and quasi-public settings.
  • Acquiring Documents and Other Property addresses the laws affecting your ability to gather documents and
    other tangible property that belongs to others, including the government.
  • Protecting Sources and Source Material examines the legal challenges you may face in maintaining the confidentiality
    of your sources and source material and discusses the federal and state laws
    that may protect you from forced disclosure of your newsgathering
    materials.

The legal
guide
, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,
is intended for
use by citizen media creators with or without formal legal training and
addresses the legal issues that you may encounter as
you gather information and publish your work online. It covers the
fifteen most populous U.S. states and the District of Columbia. You can
search the legal guide by keyword, browse by state, or simply navigate
through it like a book.

Because of its enormous scope, we can’t create this legal guide alone.
We need your help
to keep the information accurate and up to date. If you see something
we’ve missed or gotten wrong, please let us know by using our contact form. If you would like to stay abreast of new material in the legal
guide, please sign up for our weekly newsletter, the Citizen Media Law
Brief
.