Apple reimburses bloggers $700,000 in legal fees

What does it really mean to be an independent journalist, reporting on the activities of the titans of industry? Well, it means that you can be exposed to some tremendous risk, financial and otherwise. But a recent California appellate court legal decision puts bloggers and other citizen journalists on slightly firmer ground.

In the case of Apple vs. AppleInsider and PowerPage, Apple, which lost, has recently decided to pay the $700,000 in legal fees the bloggers had run up defending themselves against the civil suit Apple had brought.

What’s $700,000 to Apple? 0.0005% of their profit from fiscal year 2005. What’s $700,000 to most independent bloggers or even a blogger associated with a small media company? A hell of a lot of money to come up with if you’re the one being sued, and you’re not sure if you’re going to win.

The court’s decision — finding in favor of the bloggers and ordering their legal fees paid — helps to establish that online journalists are just as entitled to protect their confidential sources as traditional print journalists. The appeals court said, essentially that it was not up to them to differentiate between the journalism done by a blogger and that of a reporter for a traditional media outlet.

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