William & Mary Law Review


Weblogs have proliferated rapidly in recent years, attracting significant attention and generating important legal issues. Yet so far no coherent economic framework for addressing these issues exists. This Article begins to develop such a framework. It views blogs as the vanguard of what might be called "amateur journalism. " Because the Web and related technology have enabled low entry barriers, blogs can be an important source of specialized knowledge. However, bloggers do not work within a monitoring structure as in large news organizations, and individual blogs may be less accurate than conventional news sources. On the other hand, blogs as a whole are subject to strong self-correction mechanisms, including rapid feedback through comments on posts and by other blogs. Also, because most bloggers have low-powered incentives, regulation can easily deter them and thereby reduce the value of these self-correction and market mechanisms. The Article applies these insights to a variety of legal issues, including the journalist's privilege, election laws, defamation and licensing laws, media ownership restrictions, copyright laws, and vicarious liability.