The Media Bloggers Association has issued its first legal alert to let us all know about a blogger under attack in a suit. Lance Dutson, who blogs at Maine Web Report, has been slapped with a federal suit by an ad agency handling the state’s tourism business.
Here’s Dutson’s report and summary. Here is the PDF of the suit against him. Of course, I can’t vouch for any facts in the case. But one of the agency’s allegations is that “Dutson also claimed, falsely, that WKPA is ‘pissing away’ Maine tax money. ”
Well, I woud hope that we would always be protected from challenging government spending. “Pissing away” is a value judgment any taxpayer should be able to make.
The Agency is also claiming copyright infringement because Dutson put up an ad the agency made that he says mistakenly displayed the phone number for a sex line (and, indeed, the number does offer new friends, and I don’t meen moose). I would hope, too, that we woud always have the right of fair comment on anything produced with our tax dollars.
It is gratifying that the MBA is there to offer support to legally beseiged bloggers. Without fear of the support bloggers can muster, the rich and powerful will try to use their money and the courts to harass citizen journalists.
Mind you, this case is not just about journalism but also citizenry: We must always have the right and even duty to watch and question our government. Contractors acting as agents of government should come under the same scrutiny as government.
I hope that not just bloggers but also journalists and other groups will investigate this case and come to the defense of the right of this blogger and all of us to watch and question government.
: Also, a reminder: Eric Robinson at the Media Law Research Center is keeping a list of legal action against bloggers.