- Associated Press - Friday, January 17, 2014

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled bloggers and the public have the same First Amendment protections as journalists when sued for defamation: If the issue is of public concern, plaintiffs have to prove negligence to win damages.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ordered a new trial in a defamation lawsuit brought by an Oregon bankruptcy trustee against a Montana blogger who wrote online that the trustee mishandled a bankruptcy case.

The appeals court ruled that the trustee was not a public figure, but the issue was of public concern, so the negligence standard applied.

Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press says the ruling affirms what many have long argued: Standards set by a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling apply to everyone, not just journalists.

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