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Saturday, January 15, 2011
Court Rejects Claim of Journalist’s Privilege for Documentary Filmmaker
Sebastian Posingis/Entendre FilmsJoe Berlinger, right, filming Steven Donziger and Trudie Styler for the documentary “Crude.”
12:49 p.m. | Updated
A federal appeals court says that Joe Berlinger, the filmmaker who was ordered to give footage from his 2009 documentary “Crude” to the Chevron Corporation, could not invoke a journalist’s privilege in refusing to turn over that footage because his work on the film did not constitute an act of independent reporting.
Mr. Berlinger, whose film chronicles a lawsuit brought by a group of Ecuadoreans who say that the Lago Agrio oil field — then run by Texaco, which Chevron now owns — polluted their water supply, has been locked in a legal battle against Chevron for several months. Last May, a United States district court ruled that Mr. Berlinger would have to give his raw footage from the film, some 600 hours, to Chevron, which said the material could show an improper collaboration between plaintiffs’ lawyers in the Ecuadorean lawsuit and a neutral expert appointed by the Ecuadorean court.