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Zurcher v. The Stanford Daily

The Privacy Protection Act

The Privacy Protection Act of 1980 adds further strength to the media's Freedom of Press rights under the First Amendment. Specifically, the act provides guidelines that must be followed by law enforcement officials seeking access to information in the possession of the media. The act imposes parameters upon authorities in connection to searches of newspapers when they are a "third party" to a crime. This means the media may have information pertaining to a criminal activity, but are not directly involved.

In most cases, a search warrant must be obtained first if newspaper staff are not suspected of criminal activity. Certain requirements must be met before a judge will issue a search warrant. There must be "reasonable cause" for the request of a search warrant. He or she must be convinced that evidence is located at the site addressed by the search warrant before issuance. An exception is made for the requirement of a search warrant if there's suspicion of criminal activity by newspaper personnel. Materials may also be seized if authorities have a legitimate belief that evidence may be destroyed, or to prevent death or serious injury to an individual.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Zurcher v. The Stanford Daily - What The First Amendment Protects And What The Fourth And Fourteenth Amendments Prohibit, The Privacy Protection Act