What changes will need to be made in national and international legal systems to help the digital age, and especially journalism in the digital age, flourish?
This is not an issue that journalists and commentators often get into, leaving law to lawyers. But traditional legal definitions of copyright, libel and defamation are being challenged by the very nature of the internet.
The bigger picture here is how does a legal system developed to deal with physical media, grounded in geography adapt to digital media, distributed in a digital environment?
Yet linking to specific pages on the web has become an integral part of the net and this is a fundamental attribute of blogging.
In the context of journalism, what has changed is the concept of journalism as a journey, rather than a destination.
In a physical world, news becomes a destination, an end point often tied to a time and place, like the morning newspaper.
In an online world, news is part of a distributed and networked ecosystem of information. A piece of journalism will include links to other articles, sources, references and possibly extracts from these.
This does not mean taking someone else’s work and passing it off as your own. But there has to be provision for fair use, for remixing and mashing up digital content to create something that helps people make sense of the news.
One piece of journalism becomes part of someone’s journey online, perhaps within the context it was originally published, or perhaps as a link within a different context.
National and international legal systems should acknowledge that digital makes a difference.