senate Bill S1838

Protects book publishers under the shield law: journalist's right to withhold the identity of confidential sources or notes or elements of professional work

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 13 / Jan / 2011
    • REFERRED TO CODES
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO CODES

Summary

Includes book publishers under the Shield Law which protects a journalist's right to withhold the identity of confidential sources or notes or elements of their professional work.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S1838
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Codes
Law Section:
Civil Rights Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง79-h, Civ Rts L
Versions Introduced in 2009-2010 Legislative Cycle:
S3660

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S1838

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the civil rights law, in relation to protecting book
publishers under the shield law

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill would include the
protection of books and book publishers under the Shield Law by
extending the definition of a professional journalist to include book
authors and including book publishers as protected agents.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section One paragraph 6 of
subdivision (a) of section 79-h of the civil rights laws, as amended
by chapter 468 of the laws of 1981, is amended to include book
publishers as a professional medium or agency as a work of
professional journalists.

Section Two subdivision (a) of section 79-h of the Civil Rights Law is
amended by adding a new paragraph (9) defining a book publisher.

Section Three subdivision (b) of section 79-h of the Civil Rights Law,
as amended by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to include
book publishers as a professional medium under the exemption from
contempt,
including absolute protection from confidential news.

Section four subdivision (c) of section 79-h of the Civil Rights Law,
as added by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to establish
book publishers of present and previous employment of professional
journalists under the exemption from contempt, with qualified
protection for non-confidential news.

JUSTIFICATION:
New York State's Shield Law protects professional
journalists from being held in contempt for failing to reveal the
identity of confidential sources or to turnover notes or any element
of their professional work product except under extraordinary
circumstances. The Shield Law on its face protects all professional
journalists in any medium. the definition of professional journalist
carefully drafted to ensure that no one whose profession is not
clearly of a legitimate journalistic nature is afforded the
protection of the law. While New York State courts to date have
properly held the Shield Law to cover a professional journalist
working in any medium.
including a professional author working on a manuscript for
publication by a book publisher, the absence of the specific mention
of "book" or Book publisher" is of real concern to professional
journalists working in the medium of books, due to the negative
court decisions in other states where the failure of those state
statutes to specifically mention book and book publisher was cited to
hold that book authors and publishing companies were not included.
This amendment is intended to ensure that the legislative intent of
the existing law is respected. by not leaving any doubt that book


authors and publishing companies are of course covered by the
definition of professional journalist.

This bill does not extend the range of the Shield Law to any new
categories of people; rather. it clarifies what is already there by
specifically citing books and book publishing as a protected medium
to which the coverage of the Shield Law extends.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
S.3660 of 2009-2010, Referred to Codes
A.3480 of 2007-2008
A.9974 and S.1921 of 2006
A.5836 and S.1921 of 2005 (became inactive)
A.4860 and S.847 of 2003-2004
A.569 and S.708 of 2001-2002
A.664 and S.779 of 1999-2000
A.1588 and S.434 of 1997-1998

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  1838

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 13, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  OPPENHEIMER, DIAZ, KRUEGER, SAMPSON -- read twice
  and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee
  on Codes

AN ACT to amend the civil rights law, in  relation  to  protecting  book
  publishers under the shield law

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1.  Paragraph 6 of subdivision (a)  of  section  79-h  of  the
civil  rights  law,  as  amended  by chapter 468 of the laws of 1981, is
amended to read as follows:
  (6) "Professional journalist" shall mean one who, for gain or  liveli-
hood,  is engaged in gathering, preparing, collecting, writing, editing,
filming, taping or photographing of news intended for a newspaper, maga-
zine, BOOK PUBLISHER, news agency, press association or wire service  or
other  professional  medium  or  agency  which has as one of its regular
functions the processing and researching of news  intended  for  dissem-
ination  to  the  public;  such  person shall be someone performing said
function either as a regular employee or as one otherwise professionally
affiliated for gain or livelihood with such medium of communication.
  S 2. Subdivision (a) of section  79-h  of  the  civil  rights  law  is
amended by adding a new paragraph 9 to read as follows:
  (9) "BOOK PUBLISHER" SHALL MEAN A CORPORATION, COMPANY, PARTNERSHIP OR
SOLE  PROPRIETORSHIP  THAT  ROUTINELY  PREPARES  OR  ISSUES  FOR  PUBLIC
DISTRIBUTION OR SALE BOOKS, WHETHER WRITTEN OR  AUDIO,  AND  WHETHER  IN
PRINT,  ON TAPE, ON DISK, OR IN ANY ELECTRONIC OR OTHER MEDIUM, CONCERN-
ING LOCAL, NATIONAL OR WORLDWIDE EVENTS,  OR  OTHER  MATTERS  OF  PUBLIC
INTEREST OR AFFECTING THE PUBLIC WELFARE.
  S  3.  Subdivision  (b)  of  section  79-h of the civil rights law, as
amended by chapter 33 of the  laws  of  1990,  is  amended  to  read  as
follows:

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD06315-01-1

S. 1838                             2

  (b)   Exemption  of  professional  journalists  and  newscasters  from
contempt: Absolute protection for confidential news. Notwithstanding the
provisions of any general or specific law to the  contrary,  no  profes-
sional  journalist  or  newscaster  presently  or having previously been
employed  or  otherwise  associated  with  any newspaper, magazine, BOOK
PUBLISHER, news agency, press association, wire service, radio or  tele-
vision  transmission  station or network or other professional medium of
communicating news or information to the public  shall  be  adjudged  in
contempt  by any court in connection with any civil or criminal proceed-
ing, or by the legislature or other body  having  contempt  powers,  nor
shall  a  grand  jury  seek  to  have a journalist or newscaster held in
contempt by any court, legislature or other body having contempt  powers
for  refusing  or  failing  to disclose any news obtained or received in
confidence or the identity of the source of any such  news  coming  into
such  person's  possession  in the course of gathering or obtaining news
for publication or to be published in  a  newspaper,  magazine,  or  for
broadcast  by  a  radio or television transmission station or network or
for public dissemination by any  other  professional  medium  or  agency
which  has as one of its main functions the dissemination of news to the
public, by which such person is  professionally  employed  or  otherwise
associated in a news gathering capacity notwithstanding that the materi-
al or identity of a source of such material or related material gathered
by  a person described above performing a function described above is or
is not highly  relevant  to  a  particular  inquiry  of  government  and
notwithstanding that the information was not solicited by the journalist
or newscaster prior to disclosure to such person.
  S 4. Subdivision (c) of section 79-h of the civil rights law, as added
by chapter 33 of the laws of 1990, is amended to read as follows:
  (c)   Exemption  of  professional  journalists  and  newscasters  from
contempt: Qualified protection for nonconfidential news. Notwithstanding
the provisions of any general  or  specific  law  to  the  contrary,  no
professional  journalist  or  newscaster  presently or having previously
been employed or otherwise associated with any newspaper, magazine, BOOK
PUBLISHER, news agency, press association, wire service, radio or  tele-
vision  transmission  station or network or other professional medium of
communicating news to the public shall be adjudged in  contempt  by  any
court  in  connection  with  any civil or criminal proceeding, or by the
legislature or other body having contempt powers, nor shall a grand jury
seek to have a journalist or newscaster held in contempt by  any  court,
legislature,  or other body having contempt powers for refusing or fail-
ing to disclose any unpublished news obtained or prepared by a  journal-
ist  or  newscaster  in  the  course  of  gathering or obtaining news as
provided in subdivision (b) of this section, or the source of  any  such
news, where such news was not obtained or received in confidence, unless
the  party  seeking such news has made a clear and specific showing that
the news: (i) is highly material  and  relevant;  (ii)  is  critical  or
necessary  to the maintenance of a party's claim, defense or proof of an
issue material thereto; and (iii) is not obtainable from any alternative
source. A  court  shall  order  disclosure  only  of  such  portion,  or
portions, of the news sought as to which the above-described showing has
been  made and shall support such order with clear and specific findings
made after a hearing. The  provisions  of  this  subdivision  shall  not
affect  the  availability, under appropriate circumstances, of sanctions
under section thirty-one hundred twenty-six of the  civil  practice  law
and rules.
  S 5. This act shall take effect immediately.

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