You are browsing the archive for Legal.

Internet Law Center

December 21, 2012 in Policy, Resources

The Internet Law Center is a firm dedicated to helping businesses navigate the evolving legal standards for today’s digital economy.

The firm was founded by professionals with years of business and legal experience working in-house with internet companies who also have played a leading role in shaping law and policy on emerging internet issues.

Today the firm serves a diverse client base that includes startups and public companies both online and offline across North America and Asia.” Source: Internet Law Center

Guide to the IRS Decision-Making Process for Journalism and Publishing Non-profits

April 6, 2012 in Policy, Resources, Revenue

In order to avoid the difficulty that for-profit news organizations can face with capitalization and profitability, many startup news outlets have elected to form as non-profit corporations. The business plan for such organizations normally depends on obtaining tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, so that they can avoid payment of corporate tax and receive tax-deductible donations from foundations and individuals (among other significant benefits).

The IRS is the United States government agency charged with determining whether applicants qualify for an exemption from taxation at the federal level. The IRS applies the Internal Revenue Code as it is written by the U.S. Congress; although the IRS is granted substantial discretion to interpret the law, it is not empowered to deviate from the language of the law. In that regard, it is important to understand that Section 501(c)(3) contains no tax exemptions that are specifically intended to benefit journalism organizations. Put another way, the fact that an organization is intended to benefit the public by sharing newsworthy information is not by itself sufficient to obtain Section 501(c)(3) status. Rather, the IRS applies a complex set of federal laws, agency regulations and internal guidelines to determine whether an applicant meets the statutory definition of a tax-exempt organization.

While there have been controversial decisions by the IRS in particular cases, it is critical to understand that the IRS’s primary duty with respect to these applications is to protect the public fisc by ensuring that only organizations that meet criteria enacted by the United States Congress are granted a 501(c)(3) exemption. Although the IRS has some discretion in applying these criteria, it does not have the authority to recognize broad new categories of tax-exempt organizations, such as news outlets.

Until and unless there is action in Congress to facilitate tax exemptions for journalism non-profits, news organizations seeking 501(c)(3) status must learn how to structure their operations to meet the existing standards applied by the IRS. To that end, this guide is intended to provide practical information regarding the standards that the IRS applies in determining whether to grant federal tax-exempt status to a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3).” Source: Citizen Media Law Project

American Judicature Society’s Guides to Judicial Elections

December 29, 2011 in Craft, Education, Resources

In recent years, proposals have been introduced by legislators, governors, courts, and citizens’ groups in nearly every state to limit the role of politics in the selection of state judges.

The extent of these activities underscores the recognition that an independent judiciary is essential to the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the court system.

The American Judicature Society, through funding from the Open Society Institute, has contributed to these efforts by compiling comprehensive information on judicial selection processes in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Topics covered include methods of selecting, retaining, and removing of judges; successful and unsuccessful reform efforts; the roles of parties, interest groups, and professional organizations in selecting judges; and the diversity of the bench.” Source: American Judicature Society’s Guides to Judicial Elections

Digital Media Law Project

December 5, 2011 in Education, Resources, Technology

DMLP’s mission is to provide assistance, training, research, and other resources for individuals and organizations involved in online and citizen media. We aim to serve as a catalyst for creative thinking about the intersection of law and journalism on the Internet. Through the project’s website, the active engagement of lawyers and scholars, and occasional sponsored conferences, we are working to build a community of lawyers, academics, and others who are interested in facilitating citizen participation in online media and protecting the legal rights of those engaged in speech on the Internet.

DMLP’s newest endeavor is the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), a pro bono initiative that connects lawyers and law school clinics from across the country with online journalists and digital media creators who need legal help.” Source: Citizen Media Law Project

Online Media Legal Network
“The Online Media Legal Network (OMLN) is a network of law firms, law school clinics, in-house counsel, and individual lawyers throughout the United States willing to provide pro bono (free) and reduced fee legal assistance to qualifying online journalism ventures and other digital media creators.

The network currently comprises nearly 200 members, practicing law in 37 states.  These lawyers come from more than 80 law firms and media companies, as well as over a dozen law school clinics and nonprofit legal services organizations.  Many of our members are pro bono coordinators at large national law firms, which allows us to tap into a base of more than 6,000 lawyers.” Source: Online Media Legal Network

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

October 18, 2011 in Policy, Resources

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was created in 1970 at a time when the nation’s news media faced a wave of government subpoenas asking reporters to name confidential sources…

By the time executive director Lucy A. Dalglish took over in 2000, the Committee was poised to build on its considerable reputation. After the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, the Committee became the nation’s leading authority on efforts to prevent important information from reaching the public. Its “Homefront Confidential” reports and “Behind the Homefront” weblog are authoritative summaries of what has happened to the public’s right to know in the post-9/11 world.

In recent years, the Committee has taken the lead in building coalitions with other media-related organizations to protect reporters’ rights to keep sources confidential and to keep an eye on legislative efforts that impact the public’s right to know. It also has aggressively sought opportunities to speak out nationwide through amicus curiae briefs filed on behalf of journalists.” SourceThe Reporters Committee