FREEHOLD, N.J. — A judge has ruled that a Washington state blogger is not shielded by journalistic privilege for statements made against New Jersey adult software company Too Much Media.
Superior Court Judge J.S.C. Locuascio also said Oprano.com contributor Shellee Hale's motion to protect sources was denied, AVN.com confirmed Thursday with local New Jersey media.
According to the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper, Hale claimed a security breach may have exposed customers' private information to hackers. Too Much Media, which offers affiliate-tracking NATS software, has denied any such breach and has also demanded she reveal her sources, including claims they engaged in criminal conduct and were incompetent.
Hale has also claimed her life was threatened by Too Much Media, a charge the company vehemently denies.
The company has contended she is not a journalist, but just a blogger, and the judge has now initially agreed.
Hale writes four regular blogs, generally featuring pieces regarding Internet security, and has contributed to the Wall Street Journal and Business Week. Those associations formed her attorney's argument that she is a protected journalist. Additionally, she has a private investigator's license.
However, the judge said the license and her writing did not necessarily equal protection as a journalist. He also rejected an argument that a message board is the same as a news website and noted discrepancies in her testimony at a pretrial hearing.
The case is ongoing. The end result could affect future blogging lawsuits.