Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Hats Off to Juan (and Todd, and Larry)

Remember Juan Catalan, the man whom police alleged was the prime suspect in a 2003 murder, when he was actually at a Dodgers game twenty miles away?  With the assistance of Curb Your Enthusiasm producer Larry David and his cast and crew, Mr. Catalan's lawyer Todd Melnik went through outtakes to find Mr. Catalan in the stands that day. Cell phone records also helped with the defense. Here's a story from 2004 discussing the dismissal of charges. Now the Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay Mr. Catalan $320,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the arrest. Read more here.

March 9, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Vonage Tells Customers Not To Worry About Service

Vonage has told its customers not to worry about any interruption in service even though it lost a patent infringement suit this week to Verizon. But Verizon has already asked federal district judge Claude Hilton for an injunction to go along with the $58 million in damages the jury awarded.

March 9, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Winslet Wins Defamation Action

Actress Kate Winslet won a defamation action today in a London court against the magazine Grazia, which had printed an item only last month stating that she had sought for her weight. Fast work by the British legal system. Read more here.

March 9, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

David Rosenbaum's Family Agrees to Drop Lawsuit In Exchange for Better EMS Services For City

The family of the late David Rosenbaum, the retired New York Times reporter beaten to death in January of 2006, dropped a lawsuit filed against the District of Columbia with the understanding that the city would make serious efforts to improve emergency medical services over the next year. If not, the family might refile its suit. The family had also filed a suit against Howard University Hospital, the facility to which Mr. Rosenbaum was taken and where he ultimately died. It is unclear whether that suit will continue. Read more here.

March 9, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

New French Law Prohibits "Citizen Journalists" From Filming, Posting Video of Violence

The French Constitutional Council has found constitutional a new law that prohibits anyone but the professional media from filming "acts of violence." Read a report on this development here in an article from the Times online.

March 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Howard Kurtz On Joshua Wolf

Howard Kurtz considers the plight of the jailed videographer Joshua Wolf, and asks an important question: He's a blogger, but is he a journalist? Mr. Wolf refused to turn over videotape to a grand jury, alleging that the California shield law protected him, the courts disagreed, and he is now serving jail time rather than comply with the grand jury's request. But why? Read more here.

March 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Adam Liptak Evaluates the Effects of Libby Trial on Press, Future Investigations

The New York Times' Adam Liptak evaluates the possible effects of the Libby trial on reporters, so many of whom were witnesses (Mr. Liptak counts 10 out of the 19 as journalists), and on the future prosecutions. He examines the suggestion that a "Branzburg truce", between prosecutors and reporters, in which prosecutors subpoenaed journalists as a last resort under that famous ruling, is now over. Read his article here.

March 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Adam Liptak on Restaurant Critics and the Dangers of Libel

The New York Times' Adam Liptak has an entertaining piece, "Serving You Tonight Will Be Our Lawyer," in today's issue about the dangers of being a food and wine critic. Read it here.

March 7, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kansas Star Injunction Lifted

An appellate order has allowed the publication of a Kansas City Star story about the Kansas City Kansas Board of Public Utilities that has caused such a ruckus. Read more here in a new Kansas City Star story (registration may be required; free). Read the leaked confidential document here.

March 7, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Kansas, Missouri Judge Orders Stories Removed; Appellate Court Judge Sets Deadline For Challenge To Injunction

Two Kansas, Missouri papers have challenged a judge's order that they take down previously published stories from their websites about the Kansas City (Kansas) Board of Public Utilities that were based on a confidential document. The Kansas City Star and the Pitch have alleged that Judge Kelly Moorhouse's order amounts to a prior restraint in violation of the First Amendment. Read more here and here in stories in the Star. Here's Judge Moorhouse's restraining order.

Thanks to T. R. Franklin for the heads-up.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Royalty Rates For Webcast Songs Going Up

The US Copyright Royalty Board is raising the fees for webcast songs, from $.0008 per listener per song in 2006 to $.0019 per listener per song in 2010. Read more here in a story from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Feds, Broadcasters, Come to Agreement Regarding Payola

Four broadcasters, Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Entercom Communications, and Citadel Broadcasting, are reported to have agreed to pay the federal government a sizable chunk of change and to provide airtime for small record labels to showcase their artists in order to settle accusations of payola--"pay for play". Read more here and here.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Libby Found Guilty on Four Counts

A federal jury has found Lewis "Scooter" Libby guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Read more here and watch video provided by CNN.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Opera Performance and Copyright

Zvi S. Rosen, U. S. Court System, has published, "The Twilight of the Opera Pirates: A Prehistory of the Right of Public Performance for Musical Compositions," in volume 24 of the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal. Here is the abstract.

The exclusive right of public performance of a musical composition now brings to composers and songwriters revenue of approximately one billion dollars a year in the US alone. However, this right was not firmly established until a century after America's first copyright statute, relying until then on the common-law principles that protected unpublished works. The first effort to create this right by statute was the Ingersoll Copyright Bill, an omnibus revision in 1844 which died quickly in committee. After that 50 years passed, and in the final quarter of the nineteenth century the need for statutory protection for public performance became more and more obvious as a result of litigation, especially that surrounding the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta The Mikado. In the mid-1890s the right was once again proposed in an omnibus revision that died in committee, the Treloar Copyright Bill. Simultaneously though, this right went through Congress and was passed as part of an amendatory act which also increased penalties for all unlawful public performances (including drama). This article traces the history of these acts and the litigation in the later nineteenth century, telling a story that has heretofore not been told - the prehistory of the right of public of public performance for musical compositions.

Download the entire article from SSRN here.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The News Media and Criminal Justice Policy

Sara Sun Beale, Duke University School of Law, has published "The News Media's Influence on Criminal Justice Policy: How Market-Driven News Promotes Punitiveness," in volume 48 of the William & Mary Law Review. Here is the abstract.

This Article argues that commercial pressures are determining the news media's contemporary treatment of crime and violence, and that the resulting coverage has played a major role in reshaping public opinion, and ultimately, criminal justice policy. The news media are not mirrors, simply reflecting events in society. Rather, media content is shaped by economic and marketing considerations that frequently override traditional journalistic criteria for newsworthiness. This Article explores local and national television's treatment of crime, where the extent and style of news stories about crime are being adjusted to meet perceived viewer demand and advertising strategies, which frequently emphasize particular demographic groups with a taste for violence. Newspapers also reflect a market-driven reshaping of style and content, resulting in a continuing emphasis on crime stories as a cost-effective means to grab readers' attention. This has all occurred despite more than a decade of sharply falling crime rates.

The Article also explores the accumulating social science evidence that the market-driven treatment of crime in the news media has the potential to skew American public opinion, increasing the support for various punitive policies such as mandatory minimums, longer sentences, and treating juveniles as adults. Through agenda setting and priming, media emphasis increases public concern about crime and makes it a more important criteria in assessing political leaders. Then, once the issue has been highlighted, the media's emphasis increases support for punitive policies, though the mechanisms through which this occurs are less well understood. This Article explores the evidence for the mechanisms of framing, increasing fear of crime, and instilling and reinforcing racial stereotypes and linking race to crime.

Although other factors, including distinctive features of American culture and the American political system, also play a role, this Article argues that the news media are having a significant and little-understood role in increasing support for punitive criminal justice policies. Because the news media is not the only influence on public opinion, this Article also considers how the news media interacts with other factors that shape public opinion regarding the criminal justice system.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Denies Injunction Over Guardian Article

A British judge refused to grant an injunction requested by the attorney general over a "cash for honors" story that the Guardian wished to print. The paper's lawyers argued that the article was well-researched and in the public interest. The government alleged that such a story might damage an on-going investigation. Meanwhile, the prior injunction granted to the government over another story on the same topic that the BBC wished to run has been lifted. Here's more about the legal tussle over the injunction, and more about the "cash for honors" scandal.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Some Media Trivia For Today

Some media trivia for today...William Hopper, who played Paul Drake on the long-running television series Perry Mason, died on March 6, 1970. He was the son of Hedda Hopper, a sometime actress who really hit her stride as a gossip columnist, and of DeWolf Hopper Senior. Hopper was originally slated to play Mason on the series, with Raymond Burr as Drake, but the actors switched roles, and the result is tv history.

March 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Interesting Position Open at Central European University

Professor Monroe Price of the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania sent me the following information:

Central European University is advertising the position described below for an assistant professorship in Budapest.  The closing date is March 14. The teaching language is English (CEU is a graduate school and conducted in English and serving a broad swath of the world.  This is connected as well with the Center for Media and Communications Studies there. 

The Department of Public Policy at the Central European University (CEU) in
Budapest has just open a junior position in media and telecommunications
policy. In cooperation with the CEU Center for Media and Communication
Studies (CMCS) we have been running a media and telecom stream in our MA in
Public Policy program for two years now ( As
CEU is currently stepping up its public policy activities quite
significantly we are also looking into our media stream and the related
research activities at the CMCS.

More information is available from Dr Uwe Puetter
Associate Professor
Department of Public Policy
Central European University
H-1051. Budapest, Nador u. 9.
Phone +36 (1) 3273000, ext 2335
Skype puetteru

March 5, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ownership of Broadcast and Cable Signals

Shyamkrishah Balganesh, Yale University Law and Information Society Project, has published "The Social Costs of Property Rights in Broadcast (and Cable) Signals." Here is the abstract.

Efforts are currently underway internationally to create a new regime of broadcasters' rights - rights that would grant broadcast and cable companies copyright-like exclusionary protection over all uses of their transmission signals. Much of the current debate in the United States, surrounding these rights tends to be framed in either pro- or anti- property terms, and in the process neglects the reality that for over four decades now, the FCC and Congress have both actively employed the idea of property as a regulatory tool in the television industry. The current domestic regime regulating broadcasters, cable companies and content producers in the United States is premised on the existence of what this Article calls, 'attenuated exclusionary rights' - rights that unlike traditional intellectual property aren't limited temporally, but rather operationally, to ensure that they do little more than preserve the competitive balance between various distribution intermediaries. The new regime of broadcasters' rights however, remains fundamentally different in its being structured along the lines of traditional intellectual property rights - in rem rights, with little emphasis on the parties against whom they operate. In the process it fails to recognize (and capitalize on) the novel dynamics of information production, consumption and distribution brought about by the Internet and instead creates a regulatory regime that the FCC (and Congress) consciously avoided in the past. This Article argues that the only justification, if any, for introducing a new regime remains the need to subject commercial webcasting - an emerging channel of independent distribution - to regulation analogous to the one governing the current incumbents. Consequently, much can be learnt by examining the staggered process through which the current regulatory regime came to be and the intended (and perhaps, unintended) long-term efficiencies it produced in the broadcast and cable industries. This in turn would enable scholars and policymakers to (i) understand the possible implications of the new regime and (ii) better tailor property rights to enhance distributional competition and promote creativity in content production.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

March 5, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Freedom To Copy

Olufunmilayo Arewa, Northwestern University School of Law, has published "The Freedom to Copy: Copyright, Borrowing, and Context," as Northwestern Public Law Research Paper 07-06. Here is the abstract.

Copyright law must recognize the fundamental importance of the freedom to copy. Copying is an important aspect of the creation of new works that needs greater acknowledgment in copyright theory. This is particularly significant since establishing incentives to create is a key normative goal of copyright law. As a result, determining what constitutes creative works that deserve copyright protection is central to copyright doctrine. Creativity in copyright is frequently characterized as not involving copying, which is typically thought to be antithetical to both originality and creativity. This stigmatization of copying, however, means that copyright theory cannot adequately account for the reality of copying of both ideas and expression in the creation of new works. This missing theoretical link has significant implications for copyright in practice. It results in divergent treatment of acts of creation in different contexts. The lack of legal analysis of the full range of creation and creativity is also a major reason why copyright theory often has such difficulty delineating what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate copying of existing works. In contrast to law, studies in literary criticism and musicology have examined the ways in which new works are created, giving attention to the ways in which new works derive from existing expression. Examination of theories of creation in such disciplines can lend insight into ways in which copyright theory can better conceptualize both copying and creation within copyright frameworks. Through the incorporation of more fully conceived notions about copying, copyright theory can better recognize both the fundamental importance of the freedom to copy as well as its limitations.

Download the entire paper from SSRN here.

March 5, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)