03 May 2006 by Published in: Blogging 2 comments

Last week, I posted about a law suit that had been filed by a blogger for criticizing the State of Maine and its marketing agency. In that post, I mentioned that I was so horrified by the filing of this sort of SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit against a blogger exercising his right of free speech that I was thinking about offer my legal services on a pro bono basis.

I decided to do so yesterday. In researching the suit and its status, I discovered that Lance Dutson, the blogger who was sued, was being represented by lawyers who are associated with The Media Bloggers Association, an advocacy group for bloggers. Here’s the mission statement for the group: “The Media Bloggers Association is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and educating its members; supporting the development of ‘blogging’ or ‘citizen journalism’ as a distinct form of media; and helping to extend the power of the press, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails, to every citizen.”

Part of that advocacy is providing a network of attorneys well-versed in the sorts of intellectual property issues that arise, as well as the First Amendment and media law issues that go hand-in-hand. Today, I decided to volunteer some of my time to assist in the MBA’s efforts. If I can do some good, I am happy to do so.

The SLAPP suit against Dutson seems to have backfired, by the way. The MBA spread the word rapidly, and the blogosphere rallied around Lance Dutson. The plaintiff is now backpedaling quickly in the wake of a tsunami of criticism and scorn, and the governor of Maine has asked for a meeting of all of the parties in the hope of making this go away quietly and very quickly. We shall see. If it does go away quickly and quietly, it will be a real victory for the First Amendment, bloggers, and the MBA in particular.

Scridb filter


  1. Valerie Protopapas
    Fri 05th May 2006 at 5:23 pm

    This sort of thing never ‘goes away’. If those who would stifle free expression, free speech, the right to free association etc. are turned away today, rest assured they will be back tomorrow. They always look for the ‘unpopular’ point of view as a means of establishing precedent. I don’t know what this particular blogger’s point was, but I’m sure it was presented in the most negative possible light.

    There is a sort of ‘Emperor’s new clothes’ about these things. Those filing suit intimate that no ‘open minded, tolerant, diversified etc.’ individual would countenance whatever it is that has been said/posted etc. In this way, they try to enlist the public in their efforts to stop whatever they want stopped. Of course, while the ‘target’ might be very much narrow minded, INtolerant and all those things of which we are told to ‘beware’ in today’s society, the fact remains that it isn’t his (or her) VIEWS that are being targeted so much as that person’s right to EXPRESS those views. And if that person loses that right, we ALL lose it even if our views are ‘open minded, tolerant and diversified’.

    Beware the ‘bait and switch’ which makes the OPINION of the person the focus of the matter rather than that which those involved want to do REFERABLE to that opinion – such as silence it.

    V. P.

  2. Shelley
    Sat 06th May 2006 at 5:10 am

    Good for you. It is very generous of you to donate your time and expertise to this cause.

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