On Feb. 1, someone named "Ronald" posted a comment about a local businessman named Terry Beard on both the Portland Mercury and Willamette Week websites. Ronald's message "was Greek to me," the Mercury's Amy Ruiz writes, "but Terry Beard sure didn't appreciate it." He took both papers to court to get them to reveal the anonymous commenter's IP address. The papers' attorneys fought the motion, arguing that Oregon's Media Shield Law protects the information. The plaintiff's lawyer countered by contending that the shield law only applies to news gathering, not the passive reception of information. On Monday, Judge James E. Redman sided with the papers, and agreed that the IP address was protected under the state shield law. However, he noted that "if the comment had been totally unrelated to the blog post," then the shield law might not have applied.
Last week, 13 Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to Republican senators urging them to support the Free Flow of Information Act. "As our states' chief law enforcement officers, we are in a unique position to confirm that our shield laws have not resulted in any degradation in our ability to protect our citizens," the letter reads. "Still, important provisions have been added to this legislation to carefully and thoroughly protect national security and public safety." A House version of the bill was overwhelmingly approved last October, and the Senate Judiciary Committee also approved the bill in the same month.