Bill S1838-2011

Protects book publishers under the shield law: journalist's right to withhold the identity of confidential sources or notes or elements of professional work

Includes book publishers under the Shield Law which protects a journalist's right to withhold the identity of confidential sources or notes or elements of their professional work.

Details

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  • Jan 4, 2012: REFERRED TO CODES
  • Jan 13, 2011: REFERRED TO CODES

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S1838

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting book publishers under the shield law

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill would include the protection of books and book publishers under the Shield Law by extending the definition of a professional journalist to include book authors and including book publishers as protected agents.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section One paragraph 6 of subdivision (a) of section 79-h of the civil rights laws, as amended by chapter 468 of the laws of 1981, is amended to include book publishers as a professional medium or agency as a work of professional journalists.

Section Two subdivision (a) of section 79-h of the Civil Rights Law is amended by adding a new paragraph (9) defining a book publisher.

Section Three subdivision (b) of section 79-h of the Civil Rights Law, as amended by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to include book publishers as a professional medium under the exemption from contempt, including absolute protection from confidential news.

Section four subdivision (c) of section 79-h of the Civil Rights Law, as added by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to establish book publishers of present and previous employment of professional journalists under the exemption from contempt, with qualified protection for non-confidential news.

JUSTIFICATION: New York State's Shield Law protects professional journalists from being held in contempt for failing to reveal the identity of confidential sources or to turnover notes or any element of their professional work product except under extraordinary circumstances. The Shield Law on its face protects all professional journalists in any medium. the definition of professional journalist carefully drafted to ensure that no one whose profession is not clearly of a legitimate journalistic nature is afforded the protection of the law. While New York State courts to date have properly held the Shield Law to cover a professional journalist working in any medium. including a professional author working on a manuscript for publication by a book publisher, the absence of the specific mention of "book" or Book publisher" is of real concern to professional journalists working in the medium of books, due to the negative court decisions in other states where the failure of those state statutes to specifically mention book and book publisher was cited to hold that book authors and publishing companies were not included. This amendment is intended to ensure that the legislative intent of the existing law is respected. by not leaving any doubt that book

authors and publishing companies are of course covered by the definition of professional journalist.

This bill does not extend the range of the Shield Law to any new categories of people; rather. it clarifies what is already there by specifically citing books and book publishing as a protected medium to which the coverage of the Shield Law extends.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S.3660 of 2009-2010, Referred to Codes A.3480 of 2007-2008 A.9974 and S.1921 of 2006 A.5836 and S.1921 of 2005 (became inactive) A.4860 and S.847 of 2003-2004 A.569 and S.708 of 2001-2002 A.664 and S.779 of 1999-2000 A.1588 and S.434 of 1997-1998

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect immediately.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1838 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 13, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sens. OPPENHEIMER, DIAZ, KRUEGER, SAMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting book publishers under the shield law THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph 6 of subdivision (a) of section 79-h of the civil rights law, as amended by chapter 468 of the laws of 1981, is amended to read as follows: (6) "Professional journalist" shall mean one who, for gain or liveli- hood, is engaged in gathering, preparing, collecting, writing, editing, filming, taping or photographing of news intended for a newspaper, maga- zine, BOOK PUBLISHER, news agency, press association or wire service or other professional medium or agency which has as one of its regular functions the processing and researching of news intended for dissem- ination to the public; such person shall be someone performing said function either as a regular employee or as one otherwise professionally affiliated for gain or livelihood with such medium of communication. S 2. Subdivision (a) of section 79-h of the civil rights law is amended by adding a new paragraph 9 to read as follows: (9) "BOOK PUBLISHER" SHALL MEAN A CORPORATION, COMPANY, PARTNERSHIP OR SOLE PROPRIETORSHIP THAT ROUTINELY PREPARES OR ISSUES FOR PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION OR SALE BOOKS, WHETHER WRITTEN OR AUDIO, AND WHETHER IN PRINT, ON TAPE, ON DISK, OR IN ANY ELECTRONIC OR OTHER MEDIUM, CONCERN- ING LOCAL, NATIONAL OR WORLDWIDE EVENTS, OR OTHER MATTERS OF PUBLIC INTEREST OR AFFECTING THE PUBLIC WELFARE. S 3. Subdivision (b) of section 79-h of the civil rights law, as amended by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to read as follows:
(b) Exemption of professional journalists and newscasters from contempt: Absolute protection for confidential news. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or specific law to the contrary, no profes- sional journalist or newscaster presently or having previously been employed or otherwise associated with any newspaper, magazine, BOOK PUBLISHER, news agency, press association, wire service, radio or tele- vision transmission station or network or other professional medium of communicating news or information to the public shall be adjudged in contempt by any court in connection with any civil or criminal proceed- ing, or by the legislature or other body having contempt powers, nor shall a grand jury seek to have a journalist or newscaster held in contempt by any court, legislature or other body having contempt powers for refusing or failing to disclose any news obtained or received in confidence or the identity of the source of any such news coming into such person's possession in the course of gathering or obtaining news for publication or to be published in a newspaper, magazine, or for broadcast by a radio or television transmission station or network or for public dissemination by any other professional medium or agency which has as one of its main functions the dissemination of news to the public, by which such person is professionally employed or otherwise associated in a news gathering capacity notwithstanding that the materi- al or identity of a source of such material or related material gathered by a person described above performing a function described above is or is not highly relevant to a particular inquiry of government and notwithstanding that the information was not solicited by the journalist or newscaster prior to disclosure to such person. S 4. Subdivision (c) of section 79-h of the civil rights law, as added by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to read as follows: (c) Exemption of professional journalists and newscasters from contempt: Qualified protection for nonconfidential news. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or specific law to the contrary, no professional journalist or newscaster presently or having previously been employed or otherwise associated with any newspaper, magazine, BOOK PUBLISHER, news agency, press association, wire service, radio or tele- vision transmission station or network or other professional medium of communicating news to the public shall be adjudged in contempt by any court in connection with any civil or criminal proceeding, or by the legislature or other body having contempt powers, nor shall a grand jury seek to have a journalist or newscaster held in contempt by any court, legislature, or other body having contempt powers for refusing or fail- ing to disclose any unpublished news obtained or prepared by a journal- ist or newscaster in the course of gathering or obtaining news as provided in subdivision (b) of this section, or the source of any such news, where such news was not obtained or received in confidence, unless the party seeking such news has made a clear and specific showing that the news: (i) is highly material and relevant; (ii) is critical or necessary to the maintenance of a party's claim, defense or proof of an issue material thereto; and (iii) is not obtainable from any alternative source. A court shall order disclosure only of such portion, or portions, of the news sought as to which the above-described showing has been made and shall support such order with clear and specific findings made after a hearing. The provisions of this subdivision shall not affect the availability, under appropriate circumstances, of sanctions under section thirty-one hundred twenty-six of the civil practice law and rules. S 5. This act shall take effect immediately.

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