If there is one distinct expressive difference between so-called old and new media, it's that the new brigade largely enjoys immunity from the slings and arrows shared by their users. Where U.S. print and broadcast media find themselves on the hook for what appears on paper or on the air, digital media are provided a legal shield through telecommunications law from liability for their users' postings and content.
Rather quietly, though, two U.S. court rulings are posing new challenges on those protective measures. If upheld, they could start to shift the ground on digital media and compel them to police what they carry.
The CNET story on these rulings suggests the methods by which some sites collect and share information might infringe rights. The rulings are long steps away from a significant change legally, but they are sending an interesting signal in the interpretation of freewheeling digital expression. While the targets of such claims are bound to be the larger social media and services, they could also make start-up operations far more vulnerable as they defend similar claims.