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Lawyer Jeremy Eggleton, of Orr Reno in Concord, who represents Implode Explode, said the case has potential broad, negative implications for the New Hampshire media. It threatens not only the media's right to keep Omega Watches Model
Eggleton contends the Implode O Meter Web site was doing journalism when it published the story and information about MSI and should be protected under the state's qualified reporter's privilege, which protects confidential sources used by traditional media.
Walker wants the court to uphold the original decision requiring Implode O Meter to reveal its anonymous sources.
The case also has potentially broad implications in determining who constitutes the media in an Internet age that has blurred the line between traditional news outlets and bloggers or citizen journalists.
Comment decision in high court's hands
Eggleton wants the Supreme Court to throw out the case and establish a legal standard on which similar cases can be decided in the future.
MSI asked the site's publisher, Implode Explode Heavy Industries, to take down the document and comment, which it did. But the publisher refused to identify the person who leaked the chart or the commenter. It also refused to promise that it wouldn't repost the chart in the future.
The Supreme Court justices heard 15 minutes of arguments from each side, firing questions throughout. Senior Associate Justice Linda S. Dalianis asked Eggleton whether the court would be setting any kind of major precedent by agreeing with him because the reporter's protection in this case involves the Internet, not just print media.
"Anytime anyone invokes the First Amendment, they talk about the broader implications, but what we're asking the court to do is Omega Speedmaster Diamond
"It wouldn't just undermine, it would completely undo the protections of the press in this state," Eggleton said.
something that courts in New Hampshire have been doing for many, many years," Walker said. "We're not asking the court to plow any new ground."
The complex case centers around a mortgage industry watchdog Web site Mortgage Lender Implode O Meter that Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 40th Anniversary posts news from other sources about the housing finance crisis. Last fall, the site posted a story about a New Hampshire company, The Mortgage Specialists Inc., that was being investigated by banking officials for a number of alleged violations, including forging signatures, destroying documents and unfair or deceptive business practices.
No decision was made Wednesday, but the state's highest court has several options, including upholding a lower court's decision to force the Web site in question to reveal its anonymous source or reversing that decision and extending the protections designed for traditional media to a different breed of Internet journalists.
Also at issue in the case is whether the Impode O Meter Web comment was libelous, meaning harmful and untrue. No entity can win a libel case based on harmful statements that are true.
CONCORD The New Hampshire Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a free speech case that calls into question whether media outlets can protect the identities of anonymous online commenters.
"The primary goal is to make sure that something like this doesn't happen again," he said. "The company is extremely concerned that the document it provided to regulators somehow found its way onto the Web site."
confidential financial document MSI had prepared for the New Hampshire Banking Department, which was provided to them by an unnamed source.
Associate Justice Gary E. Hicks called the lower court's ruling confusing, and a couple justices hinted at sending the case back to that court for clarification.
online commenters anonymous, but, more importantly, the right to protect the identity of anonymous sources and to publish confidential documents, he said.
Along with the story, Implode O Meter staff posted a Omega Seamaster Orange Dial
While both parties agree this is a First Amendment case, they disagree on whether it will have any significant impact on the right of the media to protect its sources.
A Rockingham County Superior Court judge ordered the publisher to reveal its anonymous sources to the company and not to post confidential documents in the future. The Web site appealed that decision to the state's Supreme Court, which agreed to take on the case.
Alex Walker, president of the Manchester based firm Divine Millimet, who is representing MSI, sees things a different way. He argues that Implode O Meter is not a protected member of the media because it does not do original reporting. Even if it were, sometimes a court orders a traditional media outlet to reveal its source when it's proven to be essential to a case and there's no other way to get the information, he said.
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