Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, June 23, 2006

CBS Journalists Buried

CBS journalists Paul Douglas and James Brolan were buried earlier this month. Douglas was buried in Bedford, England, Brolan in London. Both died in a May 29, 2006 attack in Iraq that wounded CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, who is now recuperating in the United States. Read more about the services for Douglas and Brolan, their careers, and how much they will be missed, here.

June 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Three Students Sue Profs For Defamation

Three students are suing two Montana State University profs over a painting that the trio claims depicts them as "weasels".  The artist created the painting, called "Six Foolish Weasels and Two Puffed Up Suits" after his wife, an architecture professor, accused some of her students of cheating. Three of the students have taken offense, and have sued for defamation. To the artist, the issue is free speech, to the students it is libel and invasion of privacy. Read more here. The Chronicle of Higher Education has blogged the dispute here.

June 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Changes Its Mind on Metabolite Case

The Supreme Court, which had granted cert in the Laboratory Corporation of America v. Metabolite case, has now dismissed certiorari as improvidently granted. Justices Breyer, Stevens and Souter dissented, saying that the question presented, not a particularly difficult one to answer, is whether "the patent claim is invalid on the ground that it "improperly seeks to claim a monopoly over a basic scientific relationship.""  Read the ruling here.

June 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

AT&T Now Calling Account Information "Business Records"

AT&T is letting its customers know that as of Friday, June 23, 2006, it considers their account information "business records." It has revised its privacy policy to inform customers that it may release data about them

  • To obtain payment for AT&T-offered products and services, enforce or apply our customer agreements, and/or protect our rights or property.
  • To comply with court orders, subpoenas, or other legal or regulatory requirements.
  • To prevent unlawful use of communications or other services, to assist in repairing network outages, and when a call is made to 911 from a customer phone and information regarding the caller’s location is transmitted to a public safety agency .
  • To notify a responsible governmental entity if we reasonably believe that an emergency involving immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires or justifies disclosure without delay.

AT&T denies it revised the policy in reaction to lawsuits filed over allegations that it divulged customer information to the NSA. The revised policy is dated June 16, 2006. See it here.  Privacy advocates have reacted warily. Read more here in an article and here in an ACLU press release.

June 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Egyptian Blogger Freed

Egyptian political blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah is out of prison after six weeks in prison. His family says it does not know why the authorities jailed him, but his wife says the postings on their website are probably the reason. After his arrest, the website maintained a "Free Alaa" notice (still up as of today) and supporters blogged extensively in his defense. Read more about Mr. Abdel-Fattah, his detention, and the campaign to free him here.

June 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FCC Adopts Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Satellite Service

Following is a news release from the FCC concerning a notice of Proposed Rulemaking for new satellite service.







-- Today, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on licensing and service rules for satellites authorized to provide service to the

United States

in the 17/24 GHz Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS).  The 17/24 GHz BSS satellites will downlink domestically in the 17.3-17.7 GHz frequency band and uplink in the 24.75-25.25 GHz frequency band.   The 17/24 GHz BSS service holds the potential of bringing a new generation of innovative satellite services to American consumers – providing a mix of video, audio, data and multimedia services to residential and business subscribers.   

            The NPRM seeks comment on proposals related to operations in the 17/24 GHz BSS band, including: (1) the appropriate method for processing applications; (2) license terms, replacement satellites, access to the U.S. market from non-U.S. satellites, and milestone requirements; (3) pubic service obligations, geographic service and emergency alert system (EAS) requirements; (4) use of spectrum allocated internationally, but not domestically, by receiving earth stations located outside the United States; (5) orbital spacing and antenna performance standards; (6) inter- and intra-service sharing; and (7) other technical requirements, such as reverse band operations.

            Action by the Commission June 21, 2006, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 06-90).   Chairman Martin, Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate, and McDowell.

International Bureau Staff Contact: Richard Engelman at 202-418-2157,

June 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

FCC To Review Media Ownership Rules

The Federal Communications Commission has issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in response to the Third Circuit's decision in Prometheus v. FCC. Here is the text of the FCC's news release.

FCC Opens Media Ownership Proceeding for

Public Comment

Washington, DC – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on how to address the issues raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Prometheus v. FCC, which two years ago stayed and remanded several media ownership rules that the Commission had adopted in its 2002 Biennial Review Order.  The Further Notice also opens a comprehensive quadrennial review of all of the media ownership rules, as required by statute.

Section 202(h) of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, as amended, mandates that the FCC periodically review its broadcast ownership rules to determine “whether any of such rules are necessary in the public interest as a result of competition.”  As directed by Congress, the FCC opened a review proceeding in 2002 to analyze its broadcast ownership rules.  The Commission’s decision, set forth in the 2002 Biennial Review Order, was adopted in June 2003.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision affirming some Commission decisions and remanding others for further justification or modification. 

The Further Notice details the issues raised in Prometheus regarding the Commission’s earlier decisions and rationale. It discusses, and invites comment on, the rules that the court remanded:

§        Should the Commission revise the limits adopted in the 2002 Biennial Review Order on the number of stations that can be commonly owned in one market, or is there additional evidence or analysis available now upon which the Commission can rely to further justify the limits adopted then?

§       Similarly, in order to address the court’s concerns, should the Commission revise these numerical limits or is additional evidence available to further justify them?

§       How should the Commission address radio/television and newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership issues?

The item also seeks comment on the court’s remand of certain proposals relating to minority ownership. In addition, responsive to the quadrennial review required by statute, the Further Notice seeks comment on whether these rules sent back to the Commission by the court, as well as the dual network rule which was not at issue in Prometheus, are necessary in the public interest as a result of competition. 

Finally, the Further Notice lists pending petitions for reconsideration of the 2002 Biennial Review Order and states that parties may refresh the record concerning these petitions. 

Action by the Commission June 21, 2006, by Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 06-93).  Chairman Martin, Commissioners Tate and McDowell, with Commissioners Copps and Adelstein concurring and dissenting in part.  Separate statements issued by Chairman Martin, Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate, and McDowell.

-- FCC--

Fact Sheet for Media Ownership FNPRM

FNPRM Seeks Comment On the Following Rules:

  • Local Television Ownership Limit
  • Local Radio Ownership Limit
  • Newspaper Broadcast Cross-ownership Ban
  • Radio Television Cross-ownership Limit
  • Dual Network Ban
  • UHF discount on the National Television Ownership Limit Studies
  • Comprehensive studies that will address a variety of issues including:

·        How people get news and information

·        Competition within types of media and across media platforms

·        Marketplace changes since the Commission last reviewed its ownership rules

·        Localism

·        Minority participation in today’s media environment

·        Independent and diverse programming in today’s media environment

·        The impact of ownership on the production of children’s and family-friendly programming.

  • $200,000 budgeted for these studies

Opportunityfor public participation

·        Hearings:

  • The Commission will hold six public hearings on this ownership proceeding to be held in geographically diverse locations around the country.
  • Participants in the hearings will discuss the impact of the rules on topics including but not limited to:

·        Localism

·        Competition

·        Diversity

·        Minority ownership

·        Children’s and family-friendly programming

·        Senior citizens

·        Religious programming

·        Independent programming

·        Campaign and community event coverage

·        Music and the creative arts

·        The growth of the internet

·        Jobs and the economy

·        Advertisers

·        Rural America

·        The disabled community

·        The comment cycle will be extended beyond the normal period, to 120 days. 

·        Facilitating Public Comment

  • The main page of the Commission’s website ( will be updated to feature a hyperlink to a webpage dedicated to the media ownership proceeding.
  • The page will feature details on public hearings, access to the FNPRM and studies, and instructions to facilitate the filing of public comments.

See the news release here.

June 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Maybe Blogging Is Scholarship After All?

University of San Diego Law School professor Junichi Semitsu is the official blogger for the Dixie Chicks on their upcoming world tour. Professor Semitsu blogs at Read more about his unusual extracurricular activity here and in his own blogs from the front describing his role as a "Chicks Magnet" and "Man Ass" (that's short for Management Assistant) here.

June 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Chef Wins Defamation Suit Against Evening Standard

Chef Gordon Ramsay, star of the show Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, has won a defamation suit against the Evening Standard, which had published an article stating that the show had faked scenes to make restaurants pictured in the series look worse off than they were, and had falsified other events on the show. The paper will apologize and pay seventy five thousand pounds in damages. Read more here.

June 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Egyptian Journalists On Trial

Three journalists and an attorney are on trial for defamation over the publication of a list of names of judges they claim were involved in fraud during recent elections in Egypt. If convicted they face prison terms of up to two years. Read more here.

June 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Judge Tells Filmmaker to Amend Complaint or Face Dismissal

The judge in charge of Bob Yari's lawsuit against the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has told him to amend his complaint to state a cause of action. Otherwise, Judge Edward Ferns will find in favor of the defendants and dismiss the suit. Yari has been fighting over producer credits and other issues with former partners Cathy Schulman and Tom Nunan over various films, as well as with PGA and AMPAS over credits for the film Crash, which won the Best Picture Oscar this year, since January. Yari's attorney says she will amend the complaint in the time allowed and go forward with the action. Read more here in a Hollywood Reporter story. (Registration may be required).

June 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ninth Circuit Rules In Flashdance Case

The Ninth Circuit has ruled in Marder v. Lopez that a dancer who signed a General Release allowing Paramount to use her life story as the basis for the film Flashdance and received $2300 in return does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted in her attempt to share in "the revenues Paramount allegedly received from Sony for the licensing and exploitation of Flashdance in the Video [Jennifer Lopez created]" or as co-author of the screenplay for the film, or in claims under the "Lanham Act, the Copyright Act, and the state law right of publicity and unfair competition." The court examined the General Release and held that its language "is exceptionally broad and we hold that it is fatal to each of Marder's claims against Paramount. Such a release of "each and every claim" covers all claims within the scope of the language, absent extrinsic evidence to the contrary." While the court noted that "in hindsight the agreement appears to be unfair to Marder...there is simply no evidence that her consent was obtained by fraud, deception, misrepresentation, duress, or undue influence. Indeed, when she signed the Release, Marder was represented by counsel. She has not asserted that her counsel in 1983 was incompetent or deficient in any way." Neither could she assert copyright infringement claims against Sony or against singer Jennifer Lopez for a music video Lopez created that used scenes from the film.

The court considered Marder's claim that the Release did not apply to her contention that she still retained co-ownership and co-authorship rights. "This argument contravenes the plain language of the Release which states that Marder released Paramount from "each and every claim...of any kind or character." Marder also claimed that "the word "matters is susceptible to a narrower interpretation as "actionable conduct." According to Marder, the "actionable conduct" here was the alleged infringement by Sony and Lopez in 2003...Therefore Marder alleges that her claims are not precluded....Admittedly, the word "matter" has a specialized legal meaning...But courts should interpret the words of a contract in their "ordinary and popular sense..."...We read the Release to suggest that the parties did not intend "matters" to be interpreted in a strictly legal sense. The Release actually encourages a broad reading...because it encompasses claims that "are based in whole or in part upon any matters occurring" prior to the date of the Release."

In addition, the court affirmed the lower court's dismissal of Marder's claims against Sony and Lopez. Since she had no co-ownership of the film Flashdance, she could not establish a copyright infringement claim against Sony and Lopez.

Read the entire opinion here.

June 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)