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Oregon's "Shield Law"

The following is a quotation from the Oregon state statutes of a section known as the "Shield Law", which concerns confidentiality of sources and other protections afforded to newspaper personnel who are called to testify in legal proceedings.

Media Persons as Witnesses

ORS 44.510 Definitions for ORS 44.510 to 44.540.

As used in ORS 44.510 to 44.540, unless the context requires otherwise:

  1. "Information" has its ordinary meaning and includes, but is not limited to, any written, oral, pictorial or electronically recorded news or other data.
  2. "Medium of communication" has its ordinary meaning and includes, but is not limited to, any newspaper, magazine or other periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Any information which is a portion of a governmental utterance made by an official or employee of government within the scope of his or her governmental function, or any political publication subject to ORS 260.522, 260.532 and 260.605, is not included within the meaning of "medium of communication."
  3. "Processing" has its ordinary meaning and includes, but is not limited to, the compiling, storing and editing of information.
  4. "Published information" means any information disseminated to the public.
  5. "Unpublished information" means any information not disseminated to the public, whether or not related information has been disseminated. "Unpublished information" includes, but is not limited to, all notes, outtakes, photographs, tapes or other data of whatever sort not themselves disseminated to the public through a medium of communication, whether or not published information based upon or related to such material has been disseminated. [1973 c.22 s.2; 1979 c.190 s.398]

44.520 Limitation on compellable testimony from media persons; search of media persons' papers, effects or work premises prohibited; exception.

  1. No person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be required by a legislative, executive or judicial officer or body, or any other authority having power to compel testimony or the production of evidence, to disclose, by subpoena or otherwise:
    • (a) The source of any published or unpublished information obtained by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public; or
    • (b) Any unpublished information obtained or prepared by the person in the course of gathering, receiving or processing information for any medium of communication to the public.
  2. No papers, effects or work premises of a person connected with, employed by or engaged in any medium of communication to the public shall be subject to a search by a legislative, executive or judicial officer or body, or any other authority having power to compel the production of evidence, by search warrant or otherwise. The provisions of this subsection, however, shall not apply where probable cause exists to believe that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. [1973 c.22 s.3; 1979 c.820 s.1] 44.530 Application of ORS 44.520.
  1. ORS 44.520 applies regardless of whether a person has disclosed elsewhere any of the information or source thereof, or any of the related information.
  2. ORS 44.520 continues to apply in relation to any of the information, or source thereof, or any related information, even in the event of subsequent termination of a person's connection with, employment by or engagement in any medium of communication to the public.
  3. The provisions of ORS 44.520 (1) do not apply with respect to the content or source of allegedly defamatory information, in civil action for defamation wherein the defendant asserts a defense based on the content or source of such information. [1973 c.22 ss.4,5; 1979 c.820 s.2]

44.540 Effect of informant as witness.

If the informant offers the informant as a witness, it is deemed a consent to the examination also of a person described in ORS 44.520 on the same subject. [1973 c.22 s.6]

  


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