Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, August 4, 2006

A View of Crime Journalism

Samuel H. Pillsbury, Loyola Law School (L.A.) has published Learning from Crime Journalism in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. Here is the abstract.

Academics in criminal justice frequently lament the state of crime journalism in United States today - and with good reason. Sensational, superficial and often misleading reporting of a few unrepresentative cases distorts the public's view of criminal justice in serious ways. But the opposite is also true: recent years have also seen some superb crime reporting, from which experts as well as the public can learn much. In this review I focus on Steve Bogira's Courtroom 302. The book provides an important reality check on criminal adjudication in a major American city today. It also represents a unique resource for the legal educator. Its exploration of individual and social character as revealed in the legal process in a single criminal courtroom may provide an important counterweight to law school's emphasis on rules and principles in criminal adjudication. The stories told here teach about the experience of law and the relationality of its practice in a way that traditional legal materials cannot.

Download the entire article from SSRN here.

August 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Costs of Copyright

Kevin J. H. Dettmar has a fascinating piece in the August 4, 2006 Chronicle of Higher Education on the unintended consequences of intellectual property law. He discusses what happens when, as a result of changes in taste, a work becomes fashionable, and an author, or his or her heirs, decide to increase the price for the rights to reprint that material. That price may decide whether students down the road read the material or not. Dettmar points out that the Schloss lawsuit against Stephen Joyce, heir of James Joyce, now pending in federal district court, may begin to resolve some of the questions.  After discussing his own problems with getting permissions for Joyce pieces, he notes that costs for particular W. H. Auden selections, considered necessary for the anthology he is putting together, have ballooned to nearly nine thousand dollars by themselves.

The essay is Writers Who Price Themselves Out of the Canon, in the Chronicle Review, Aug. 4, 2006.

August 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Deal Struck Over Live Recordings

The New York Times' Daniel Wakin has an article in today's paper about an agreement to be announced today that seems likely to be able to preserve the future of concert recordings of today's symphony orchestras, many of which are in distress over declining attendance and record sales. Some of the sticking points had been advance payments to the musicians. The agreement replaces those payments with a share of the royalties. The agreement also addresses digital downloads. Read more here.

August 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Closely Watched Tren(d)s

New French legislation requiring compatibility between Apple's iPod and downloadable iTunes and other players and downloadable music has gone into effect. Meanwhile, in Britain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, legislatures are considering whether to require Apple to make its hardware and music compatible with competitors' devices and tunes. Read more in a Financial Times article here.

August 4, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Website For International News on Freedom of Expression

Check out for news on freedom of speech, including news on the treatment of reporters and media law around the world.

August 3, 2006 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Second Circuit Decision in New York Times v. Gonzales

The Second Circuit decision in New York Times v. Gonzales is available here.

August 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal Seeking Submissions

Howell O'Rear, current Articles Editor of the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal says that the journal is currently actively looking for substantive pieces in the area of sports and entertainment law. The journal accepts submissions from law and other faculty, practicing attorneys, law students at other law schools and graduate students. Send submissions as an attachment to Mr. O'Rear at

August 3, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

CBS Decides to Appeal $550,000 Fine

CBS has appealed the $550,000 fine imposed by the FCC as a result of the infamous Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show. It filed its appeal with the Third Circuit last week. Read more here.

August 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hilden on Free Speech and MedMal

FindLaw's Julie Hilden has an essay on whether the First Amendment protects websites, like, that publish the names of patients who sue their physicians. Read more about such suits in the Wall Street Journal here.

August 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Student Buys Majority Interest in New York Observer

Law student Jared Kushner has purchased a majority stake in the weekly New York Observer. The paper announced the transfer of ownership in a letter to its readers. The New York Times has more about the purchase in a July 31st article here.

August 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Second Circuit Rules Feds Can See Reporters' Phone Records

Declining to uphold the lower court, a Second Circuit panel has ruled that the U. S. attorney's office may have access to two New York Times reporters' telephone records as part of its investigation into the activities of two charities, the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation in Texas and the Illinois-based Global Relief Foundation. The Times, its reporter Philip Shenon, and Judith Miller, who left the paper last year, had claimed that reporter's privilege protected the records. But two of the judges on the panel ruled while a privilege might exist, the government could and had overcome it in this case. Read more in Adam Liptak's New York Times article here. The lower case is New York Times v. Gonzales, 382 F. Supp. 457 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).

August 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yellow Pages Threatens Teen Over Website

Yell, the UK part of Yellow Pages, is threatening to sue a British teen over her website, Yellowikis, which offers businesses the opportunity to list and edit their information. Rosa Blaus thought it was a good way to make some cash, but Yell claims she is infringing on its trademark. Yellowikis users have ponyed up money to fight in court, and Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, has also promised support. Read more in a Media Guardian article here.

August 2, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Open Access Law Publishing

Jessica Litman, University of Michigan Law School, has published "The Economics of Open-Access Law Publishing" in the Lewis & Clark Law Review (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

The conventional model of scholarly publishing uses the copyright system as a lever to induce commercial publishers and printers to disseminate the results of scholarly research. The role of copyright in the dissemination of scholarly research is in many ways curious, since neither authors nor the entities who compensate them for their authorship are motivated by the incentives supplied by the copyright system. Rather, copyright is a bribe to entice professional publishers and printers to reproduce and distribute scholarly works. As technology has spawned new methods of restricting access to works, and copyright law has enhanced copyright owners' rights to do so, the publishers of scholarly journals have begun to experiment with subscription models that charge for access by the article, the viewer, or the year. Copyright may have been a cheap bribe when paper was expensive, but it has arguably distorted the scholarly publishing system in ways that undermine the enterprise of scholarship. Recently, we've seen a number of high-profile experiments seeking to use one of a variety of forms of open access scholarly publishing to develop an alternative model. Critics have not quarreled with the goals of open access publishing; instead, they've attacked the viability of the open-access business model.

If we are examining the economics of open access publishing, we shouldn't limit ourselves to the question whether open access journals have fielded a business model that would allow them to ape conventional journals in the information marketplace. We should be taking a broader look at who is paying what money (and comparable incentives) to whom, for what activity, and to what end. Are either conventional or open-access journals likely to deliver what they're being paid for?

Law journal publishing is one of the easiest cases for open access publishing. Law scholarship relies on few commercial publishers. The majority of law journals depend on unpaid students to undertake the selection and copy editing of articles. Nobody who participates in any way in the law journal article research, writing, selecting, editing and publication process does so because of copyright incentives. Indeed, copyright is sufficiently irrelevant that legal scholars, the institutions that employ them and the journals that publish their research tolerate considerable uncertainty about who owns the copyright to the works in question, without engaging in serious efforts to resolve it. At the same time, the first copy cost of law reviews is heavily subsidized by the academy to an extent that dwarfs both the mailing and printing costs that make up law journals' chief budgeted expenditures and the subscription and royalty payments that account for their chief budgeted revenues. That subsidy, I argue, is an investment in the production and dissemination of legal scholarship, whose value is unambiguously enhanced by open access publishing.

In part I of the paper I give a brief sketch of the slow growth of open access publishing in legal research. In part II, I look at the conventional budget of a student-edited law journal, which excludes all of the costs involved in generating the first copy of any issue, and suggest that we cannot make an intelligent assessment of the economics of open access law publishing unless we account for input costs, like the first copy cost, that conventional analysis ignores. In part III, I develop a constructive first copy cost based on assumptions about the material included in a typical issue of the law journal, and draw inferences based on comparing the expenses involved in the first copy, and the entities who pay them, with the official law journal budget. In part IV, I examine the implications of my argument for open access law publishing. In part V, I argue that the conclusions that flow from my analysis apply to non-legal publishing as well.

Download a copy of the entire article from SSRN here.

August 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)