Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

IPCC Employee May Have Been Suspended for Leaking Info on de Menezes Death

The Media Guardian reports that ITV's scoop revealing that Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes' July death in a London subway station was unnecessary apparently comes at least partly through leaked info from an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) worker. The IPCC is charged with investigating charges lodged against UK law enforcement and its web site currently carries the following statement. " Our focus is on the search for the truth about the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. Both the IPCC and the Metropolitan Police Service recognise that the unauthorised disclosure of information cannot be ignored and must be addressed. We are in discussion with the MPS on this. In response to media speculation on IPCC staffing issues, we do not comment on personnel matters. We will not be distracted from our thorough, professional and impartial investigation into the death of Mr de Menezes."

Further, the Media Guardian says the employee now seems to have been suspended. The IPCC has refused to comment on whether this is true. Read more about the source of the alleged leak here. Read more about criticism of the investigation after ITV's report here, here, and here.

August 20, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 19, 2005

BBC Under Fire for Providing Programs to Canadian Counterpart During Labor Dispute

Both UK and Canadian unions are blasting the BBC for providing programming to the CBC during its dispute with Canadian labor, reports the Media Guardian. Read more here.

August 19, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Former Chicago Sun-Times Head, Others Indicted Over Schemes

The AP reports that U. S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is proceeding with fraud indictments against former Chicago Sun-Times exec David Radler, attorney Mark Kipnis, and a Canadian holding company. The feds allege that their investigations reveal shareholders may have lost more than thirty million dollars in fraudulent transactions dating back to 1998. Read more here on the MSNBC website, in the Chicago Sun-Times, and here in the Trib itself. Radler, a native of Canada, is reported to be assisting federal authorities.

August 19, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

California's Legislators, Governor Discuss Assistance for Movie Industry

Read about possible assistance for California's film industry, losing ground to competitors in Louisiana, North Carolina and other locations in the U.S. and abroad in a story in today's New York Times.

August 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dole Expresses Concern, Support for Judith Miller

Read Bob Dole's op-ed piece in the August 16, 2005 New York Times, expressing support for Times reporter Judith Miller's position here.

August 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Miller's Forty Days; Abrams on Lou Dobbs

Read about Floyd Abrams' August 16 interview with CNN's Lou Dobbs here. Judith Miller has been in jail more than forty days.

August 18, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Viacom, Others Prevail on Summary Judgment in Infringement Action Brought in "Truman Show" Matter

U. S. Chief Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck has granted defendants' motion to exclude plaintiff Craig Mowry's expert's testimony in an infringement action and further granted defendants' motion for summary judgment. Mowry had attempted to show through the testimony of Dr. Carol Chaski, a linguistics expert, that defendants Viacom, Scott Rudin Productions, Andrew Niccol, and Paramount Pictures Corporation had infringed on his unpublished screenplay "The Crew" by demonstrating its similarity to the film "The Truman Show."

The difficulty of Mowry's case was in demonstrating access--thus his reliance on Dr. Chaski. Said Judge Peck, "Because Mowry's "industry access" theory is insufficient to demonstrate access...defendants are entitled to summary judgment unless access can be inferred from "striking similarities between The Crew and The Truman Show....Indeed the parties agree that comparison of the works is sufficient for the Court to determine striking similarity. Defendants' summary judgment brief...contents that "[t]his Court will perceive the total lack of substantial similarity between the works upon viewing The Truman Show movie and reading The Crew script." Mowry agrees...The Court has accepted the parties' invitation..." After examining the two, the judge concluded that " rational jury could find the two works to be strikingly similar."  Further, he found that the expert witness' testimony did "not change the result." "For several reasons, Dr. Chaski's report and testimony is not sufficient to change the Court's conclusion...First, Mowry points to no case in which an expert using cladistic or phylogenetic tree analysis has been used to show striking similarity (or even substantial similarity) between literary works, and the Court's research has found no such cases. While it is true that there must be a first time...this is not the case....Second, Rule 702 requires that the "specialized knowledge" of the expert must be such as to "assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or determine a fact in issue."...Unlike in specialized areas like music, the trier of fact can compare the works without the need of expert assistance....Third, a major defect in Dr. Chaski's report is that her comparisons were not based on the screenplays themselves but on her charts, in which she summarized or paraphrased aspects of The Crew and The Truman Show....Fourth, while Dr. Chaski argues that as a result of similarities, The Truman Show was derived from The Crew, the Court cannot say that Dr. Chaski's testimony is sufficient to show that The Truman Show could not possibly have been the result of independent creation, which is the appropriate test...Finally, the Court concludes that Dr. Chaski's expert report does not create an issue of fact precluding summary judgment. An expert cannot create an issue of fact by rendering an opinion on similarity as to works that no rational jury could find to be strikingly similar."

Read Judge Peck's opinion here.

August 17, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Australian Media May Be Headed for Change

Steve Lewis, reporter for The Australian, writes about possible changes for Australian media under the Howard government, here. Read more here on pay TV changes as well in a piece by Jane Schulze and consider comments by Australian Provincial Newspapers (APN) News and Media head Brendan Hopkins in another Jane Schulze story here.

August 16, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CBC Lockout Means Canadians Have Lots of Re-Runs, BBC Fare to While Away the Hours

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation brass have locked out more than 5000 employees after contract negotiations ended abruptly this week. The network says it will use non-union staff to keep programs on the air. Read more here from the Media Guardian and here from the Globe and Mail.

August 16, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Authors Auction Character Naming Rights on E-Bay

Several famous writers, including Stephen King, John Grisham, Amy Tan, Ayelet Waldman, Nora Roberts, and Michael Chabon, are offering eager buyers the right to name characters in their upcoming novels. The authors reserve the right to limit what each buyer receives for his/her winning bid. Proceeds will go to a non-profit called the First Amendment Project. Read more here.

August 15, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Palace, the Press and Privacy

James Silver of the Guardian discusses Clarence House's war with the media here.

August 15, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BBC Violated Regulations According to Ofcom

Ofcom, the UK's equivalent of the FCC, has rapped the BBC for broadcasting a series called "Streets of Vice" during a period that young children were likely to be watching. While the agency found the program to be in the public interest, it also ruled that the series was "inappropriately scheduled." Read the ruling here.

August 15, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)