The legal relevance of being a ‘blog’: a ‘pretty straightforward’ definition?

We are comfortable that there is a clear articulation of “blog” and “news”. Blogs are to do with the expression of the point of view of an individual or group of individuals. That is pretty straightforward, although, as with everything else, it will be subject to the courts’ deliberations at the appropriate time. Maria Miller, HoC debate, 22 April 2013.

The definitions of ‘blog’ and ‘news’ look set to be increasingly significant, in a very practical sense.

The government has updated amendments in the Crime and Courts Bill to “make clear that small blogs will not be classed as ‘relevant publishers’” who should sign up to the new regulator. Additionally, those who are not ‘relevant publishers’ but opt-in voluntarily, will receive the costs incentives of participating, including access to the regulator’s arbitration service.

DCMS has produced a flow-chart [see update at end], to help publications decide if they are expected to join the regulator or not – with the caveat that it’s not legal advice!

Relevant_publisher
There are two definitions, which might prove problematic in the future (although the Secretary of State for culture, media and sport, Maria Miller, is confident they are ‘straightforward’): ‘news-related’ and ‘blog’.

It appears that if you don’t wish to fall into the ‘relevant publisher’ category and your publication isn’t defined as a ‘blog’, publishing ‘news’ should not be the main focus of your business.

The Crime and Courts Bill will return to the House of Lords in the next stage of ‘Ping Pong’ later today (Main Chamber, 2.30pm).

Also see:

If any experts on micro-businesses and media organisational structures are reading, your thoughts on exemptions for individual titles and companies would be welcome.

Update: DCMS has updated its flowchart on Flickr to clarify the ‘publisher’ bit of ‘relevant publisher’:

Update 23/04/13, 10.41am
We have clarified the wording in the introduction following user feedback. Formerly read: ‘Relevant publishers are the newspapers and newspaper-like publications…’
Now reads: ‘Relevant publishers produce the newspapers and newspaper-like publications…’

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6 Responses to The legal relevance of being a ‘blog’: a ‘pretty straightforward’ definition?

  1. Lucy Series says:

    Hmmm… up until ‘do you have 10 employees or more’ I could definitely answer yes to each of these…’Probably not’ isn’t terribly reassuring.

  2. jtownend says:

    I don’t think it’s supposed to capture blogging academic researchers, although it could be reassuring to have access to the arbitration service (depending on the set-up of the new regulator – eg. joining fee). Until now, I didn’t really see the point of trying to define a ‘blog’ anymore than I find it very useful to define ‘citizen journalism’, and thought the term would be become increasingly redundant. But it’s no longer just a question for academic conferences about the future of journalism!

  3. DMCS is effectively redefining what a microbusiness is: http://www.themediabriefing.com/article/2013-04-22/UK-press-regulation-exempts-blogs-fails-understand–digital-landscape#comment-873196806

    Rather than use the widely accepted EU threshold of £578k in annual revenue, they’ve chosen – from out of the blue – £2 million a year. It’s very hard to describe a business as micro if they are earning £1.99 million in sales every 12 months.

  4. Pingback: End of the day round-up | Legal Cheek

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