Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Washington State supreme court doesn't recognize independent youtubers or bloggers as "the press"

Tacoma skyline and I-705 from the East 34th Street Bridge


There was an important case in Washington State, where the state supreme court ruled that a YouTube Channel (or probably an individual blog site), not associated with a company, is not part of the press and does not qualify automatically for certain press privileges, like access to certain state records to do an investigation.  Reclaim the Net has a story here. 

The case is Green v. Pierce County (Tacoma), opinion.   

There is a pretty obvious hole in the argument.  An individual can make a living from a channel or blog sometimes, and may hire others and operate as a business.  An individual could set up an LLC.  Even a sole proprietorship could quality, although accounting records would have show it is a legitimate business that makes money and supports the individual/family. 

That latter idea would be a stumbling bloc for me.

I have never asked for access to sensitive records or tried to get a press pass. 

However I’ve noted that platforms (like YouTube) are likely to be much more concerned about an individual’s “commercial viability” in the future than in the past, partly as Section 230 erodes or as copyright becomes more sensitive (as in Europe with Article 17).  A substack, if it actually attracted enough paying subscribers, could work. 

There have been instances where large corporations have issued invalid copyright takedowns against independent channels like The David Pakman show just because they can get away with it. 

And that also pits against another issue:  using patrons or subscribers as well as or instead of serving ads.  Look at Tim Lee’s take on the issue.   

I suppose this brings me to ask myself, what do I have “to sell”.  So far, it seems to be, my own “autobiography”, even if I have a lot more turning points and ironies than, say, Moby. Yes, there is my music (accumulated over a lifetime) and I have started doing something with that.  But, no life insurance, no audio books, no stuff that everybody else sells.  What about Faraday bags?  Sell what you believe?

Picture: Tacoma skyline, Wikipedia embed. Click for attribution.

1 comment:

Bill Boushka said...

Note this comment, that in Branzburg, the "press right" is given to individuals https://twitter.com/MiamiUProf/status/1399758899599884291 That seems to imply that journalism need not be a commercial "business". That may not serve Taleb's idea of "skin in the game"