From Bricks to Pajamas: The Law and Economics of Amateur Journalism

66 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2006  

Larry E. Ribstein

University of Illinois College of Law (deceased); PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Abstract

Weblogs have proliferated rapidly in recent years, attracting significant attention and generating important legal issues. Yet there is so far no coherent economic framework for addressing these issues. This article begins to develop such a framework. It views blogs as the vanguard of what might be called "amateur journalism." Because of the low entry barriers enabled by the Web and related technology, blogs can be an important source of specialized knowledge. However, because bloggers do not work within a monitoring structure as in large news organizations, individual blogs may be less accurate than conventional news sources. On the other hand, blogs as a whole are subject to strong self-correction mechanisms, including rapid feedback through comments on posts and by other blogs. Also, because most bloggers have low-powered incentives, regulation can easily deter them and thereby reduce the value of these self-correction and market mechanisms. The article applies these insights to a variety of legal issues, including the journalist's privilege, election laws, defamation and licensing laws, media ownership restrictions, copyright and vicarious liability.

Keywords: Law and economics, weblogs, professional licensing, defamation, election law, worldwide web, media regulation, intellectual property, partnership, evidentiary privileges, First Amendment

JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20

Suggested Citation

Ribstein, Larry E., From Bricks to Pajamas: The Law and Economics of Amateur Journalism. U Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE06-008; William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 48, p. 185, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=700961 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.700961

Larry Edward Ribstein (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law (deceased)

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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