August 27, 2005
Dutch Authorities Consider Plans Of Proposed "Big Brother" Spinoffs
John de Mol's new television station Talpa is pushing the envelope in the Netherlands, and the government is pushing back. Some government officials are horrified that de Mol's proposed "Big Brother" spinoffs include pilots for shows in which a woman would give birth, and another couple would choose a sperm donor. Physicians, lawyers, and other experts are at odds over the legal and medical pros and cons of both shows. Still other of de Mol's ideas: a "matchmaker" show, and a show in which former prostitutes open a cafe. Read more here and here.
August 26, 2005
Second Reality Show Suit Filed
Fox Broadcasting and Rocket Science Laboratories are facing a lawsuit over working conditions from a number of writers, filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court. It follows by several weeks a similar proceeding also filed in the LA courts against ABC, CBS, the WB and Turner Broadcasting. Read more here on CNN and in a story from Variety here.
Aruban Judge Blocks NBC Interview With Holloway Suspect
The lawyers for detainee Joran van der Sloot have successfully that Aruban law should prevent NBC from airing an interview with van der Sloot in order to preserve the man's privacy rights. The Aruban judge in charge of the case agreed that the interview, which was conducted inside the prison where van der Sloot is currently being held was not held with van der Sloot's permission, although the network maintains that it had the prison's officials' permission to hold the interview. The network says it will respect the Aruban court's order. CNN quotes an NBC statement saying the network is "considering [its]next course of legal action." Read more here.
August 25, 2005
Foreign Intellectuals, Celebs Sign Petition Requesting Judith Miller's Release
A number of novelists, filmmakers, and other celebrities have signed a petition requesting that New York Times journalist Judith Miller be released from jail. They include Guenter Grass, Nobel Prize winner and author of such novels as The Tin Drum, filmmaker Pedro Almodovar (High Heels, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown),and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy (Barbarism With a Human Face and the recent Who Killed Daniel Pearl?) so famous in France that he is known by his initials--BHL. The petition was organized by Reporters without Borders: read the entire text here.
Talk Show Host Fired Over Comments About Islam
Michael Graham, a popular conservative Washington DC radio talk-show host, has been fired from WMAL-AM after he refused to read a prepared statement on air in which he would have distanced himself from comments he made on a July 25th show likening Islam to "a terrorist organization". Graham made the "terrorist" connection concerning Islam 23 times on the 3 hour show according to the station's management. The station received numerous objections from the Muslim community and from advertisers after Graham's remarks. Read more here in the Washington Post, here on MSNBC's website in an AP story, and listen here to a discussion among Chris Matthews, talk show host Blanquita Cullum and the Reverend Al Sharpton in a segment from Matthews' show Hardball on August 23 (may require the installation of some free software). The ABC radio website is available here.
August 24, 2005
British ISP Inks Deals With Sony to Provide Legal Filesharing
In a novel deal that may solve some of the problems P2P users have run into with rights holders, UK ISP Playlouder has signed a deal with Sony BMG to provide its subscribers with access to Sony's artists. Tracking mechanisms will allow royalties to be paid appropriately. If things work out, Playlouder says equivalent deals may be forthcoming with other companies such as Universal. Read more here.
News of the World Will Pay Libel Damages to Justin Timberlake
The Media Guardian reports that model Lucy Clarkson now admits that the story she sold to the tabloid News of the World last year concerning an affair she had with singer Justin Timberlake was completely invented. As a result Timberlake sued the paper for defamation. News of the World has agreed to pay Timberlake an undisclosed amount in damages and Clarkson will give the star her earnings for the story; he plans to donate the money to a charitable cause. At the time pop star Timberlake was romantically linked with actress Cameron Diaz and was touring Britain to promote an album. Read more here and here.
August 23, 2005
Australian Newspaper, Editor Fined Over Story
An Australian newspaper, the West Australian, and its editor pled guilty to publishing the name and photograph, and information about a nine-year-old boy who was in the custody of the state, in violation of the law. The paper also identified the child in a headline as a "suburban terrorist." The court fined the paper and editor a total of $20,000 Australian. Read more here.
Two Australian Reporters Probably Headed for Jail
Two (Melbourne) Herald Sun journalists still refuse to reveal their sources in the case of Desmond Kelly, an Australian official accused of revealing information embarrassing to the government. THe pair, Gerald McManus and Michael Harvey, are probably on their way to jail after Kelly's pre-trial hearing. Read more here and here.
August 22, 2005
Ninth Circuit Allows "Terminator II" Copyright Infringement Claim to Proceed
The U. S. Ninth Circuit is allowing Filia and Constantinos Kourtis' copyright infringement lawsuit to proceed against James Cameron and other producers of the film Terminator II. The couple claim that their screenplay, The Minotaur, bears a striking resemblance to the 1991 film starring Arnold Schwartzenegger. Defendants had alleged that the Kourtises were collaterally estopped from the suit because another individual, WIlliam Green, had claimed copyright in the Minotaur screenplay, had sued the Terminator producers, and had lost. The Kourtises were not parties to the suit. The Kourtises then brought suit against Green for infringement in Australian, their country of residence, won, and filed suit in the U.S. against Cameron for copyright infringement. Losing at the trial court level, they appealled.
In a detailed analysis the court examined whether the Kourtises should have participated in the original litigation against Cameron. It found ultimately that "[t]he onus...rested with Cameron to join the Kourtises to the Green litigation. The Kourtises themselves were under no obligation to intervene, and they are free to pursue their copyright infringement claim in this suit because they were neither parties to the Green case nor in privity with a party."
The 9th circuit dismissed the Kourtises' state law claims for statute of limitations reasons. Read the decision here.
U. S. District Court Rules that Da Vinci Code Does Not Infringe on Copyrights
A U. S. District Court Judge has ruled that Dan Brown's work The Da Vinci Code does not infringe on two of Lewis Perdue's books, Daughter of God and The Da Vinci Legacy. After recounting the plots of the works, the court examined other elements of the books, including characters, thematic expression, structure, and "total concept and feel." The court concluded that "[a] reasonable average lay observer would not conclude that The Da Vinci Code is substantially similar to Daughter of God. Any slightly similar elements are on the level of generalized or otherwise unprotectible ideas." The court found for the plaintiffs, Brown and Random House. Read the decision here.
August 21, 2005
Lance Armstrong's Tour de la Cour?
In an article in the July 26th Media Guardian, William Fotheringham lists some of the actions that 7 time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong may be involved in over the next few years. These include several defamation actions over a book, LA Confidentiel: Les Secrets de Lance Armstrong, and articles derived from it, an unfair dismissal claim brought by one of Armstrong's former PA's, and a dispute over a performance bonus left unpaid because of the allegations made in LA Confidentiel. The allegations center on charges that Armstrong used performance enhancing drugs, charges that he has repeatedly denied. Read more here.