Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Robinson on Confidentiality, Ethics, and the Law of Academic Privilege

Eric Robinson, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina, has published No Confidence: Confidentiality, Ethics and the Law of Academic Privilege at 21 Communication Law and Policy 323 (2016). Here is the abstract.

The law recognizes several evidentiary privileges, including a qualified privilege recognized by statute or court precedent in forty-eight states and several federal circuits that allows journalists to protect confidential sources. Meanwhile, ethical practices for social science surveys require pledging confidentiality to respondents, a practice that can conflict with subpoenas and court orders requiring revelation of such information. Only a handful of court decisions have formally recognized a privilege for scholars similar to a reporters’ privilege, and an examination of the court decisions that have either ruled on or discussed the issue reveals that while many courts recognize the interests of scholars in confidentiality, most courts decline to recognize a legal privilege for researchers. Courts do, however, often limit disclosure to accommodate these concerns. The specific circumstances and rationales of these decisions are discussed and analyzed.

The full text is not available for download. Please contact the author for more information about the article.

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