March 7, 2007 | By Hugh D'Andrade

EFF Lawyer Wins CLAY Award

To his chagrin, EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl was forced to admit that he is in fact a great lawyer when he was awarded the prestigious California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) Award for Media Law on Monday evening.

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Kurt's modesty not withstanding, the award recognized Kurt's important work representing online journalists in the case Apple v. Does. In that case, EFF defended the journalists when their emails were subpoenaed from their ISP by Apple Computer, which was trying to identify the anonymous sources of the reporters' stories on an upcoming Apple product. EFF argued that online journalists have the same right to protect the confidentiality of their sources as offline journalists, and that the privilege extended to the emails they stored with their ISP. The court agreed.

In their decision, the judges wrote: "We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace."

When asked for comment on his much-deserved award, Mr. Opsahl sheepishly closed the door to his office and continued working. But we're sure he's feeling quite honored to have been recognized with a CLAY award, and is pleased to join the esteemed company of EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn and Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann--both of whom have been honored as Lawyers of the Year in years past.


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