Legal

Recent Articles

A Source for ProPublica’s Cryptography Story…Blogs About It

Johns Hopkins cryptography researcher Michael Green was one of the sources for ProPublica's huge story on the NSA's largely successful efforts to break or build backdoors into the cryptography that secures our messages and web activity, and he blogged about it:
"Let me tell you the story of my tiny brush with the biggest crypto story of the year. A few weeks ago I received a call from a reporter at ProPublica, asking me background questions about encryption. Right off the bat I knew this was going to be an odd conversation, since this gentleman seemed convinced that the NSA had vast capabilities to defeat encryption. And not in a 'hey, d'ya think the NSA has vast capabilities to defeat encryption?' kind of way. No, he'd already established the defeating. Continue Reading →

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Fiscally-Sponsored Projects Must File Their Own 990s

990

All nonprofit organizations are required to file an annual tax return with the IRS: Form 990, Form 990-EZ or Form 990-N. This annual filing obligation includes organizations that have not yet received a determination letter from the IRS that they are tax-exempt, and it also includes organizations that are fiscally sponsored by INN or other fiscal sponsor. Continue Reading →

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Charitable State Registration May Be Missed by Many Nonprofit News Organizations

Clifford Perlman

This is a guest post from Cliff Perlman, Attorney At Law with Perlman & Perlman. Although Investigative News Network members may not solicit funds in many places or receive large sums, it is nevertheless important to understand the laws that apply to your various fundraising efforts. Failure to comply can lead not only to fines from the state in which you solicit and such failure can also lead to bad publicity which can hurt you and the Network on many levels. It is important for you to understand how charitable fundraising activities are regulated. This article provides an overview of charitable solicitation. Continue Reading →

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Terms & Conditions: Staying on Top of Your Legal Obligations

We’ve all signed up for some new technology - something that is going to make things easier, faster, better, less expensive - and then when the message pops up, saying “I have read and accept the terms and conditions,” we click to accept without a second thought. No lawyers are involved, there are no hours spent pouring over dense legalese. However, as executives and publishers we have an obligation, not only to read the legalese and the fine print, but to stay atop of it all. Every legally binding contract involves rights and obligations that must be met in order to avoid a significant risk to your organization, and even to you individually. I'm not an attorney, and so this is not legal guidance, but I have included here a few pointers for keeping track of contracts. Continue Reading →

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A Lawyer’s View: Bulletproofing your Tweets

The Value of Social Media for gathering information, developing your public persona as a journalist, and promoting your work is well-recognized, writes Jeff Hermes, Director of the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Yet promoting investigative work on social media platforms poses special challenges. In an article for INN, Hermes, who operates the Online Media Legal Network, details the issues at play and offers some guidelines to consider. Among them:

*Never say anything about the story in a social media context that you would not be comfortable publishing in the text of the story itself. *Facts that did not make it into the article should not appear in social media--particularly those facts removed during the vetting process. Continue Reading →

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Legal Tips from the Hub

As a start-up nonprofit journalism organization, it’s important to be aware of legal risks. In collaboration with the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Hub has created a Frequently Asked Questions page on legal risks. We have updated our Legal FAQ to feature two new sections: Accessing Government Records and Newsgathering and Privacy Concerns. For example, some questions to think about: Do you know when to file a FOIA request for public records? Do you know what kind of court records you have access to? Continue Reading →

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Legal FAQs for Nonprofit Journalism Organizations

As a start-up nonprofit journalism organization, it’s important to be aware of legal risks. In collaboration with the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Hub has created this Frequently Asked Questions page related to nonprofit status, copyright issues, and risks associated with publishing information. The answers to the questions below are located on the Citizen Media Law Project website. For each answer below, it is recommended you review the whole section and web page for a complete explanation. Forming a Nonprofit Journalism Organization
1. What are the steps to forming a nonprofit corporation? Continue Reading →

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