Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, May 25, 2007

What's a Copy?

FindLaw's Michael Dorf discusses the Perfect 10 v. Amazon case, recently decided by the 9th Circuit here. Here's more discussion by Orin Kerr, Eric Goldman, and Wendy Seltzer.

May 25, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Keira Knightley Wins Damages From Daily Mail

Actress Keira Knightley has won a damages award of three thousand pounds plus costs against the Daily Mail over its story that she had an eating disorder. In court today the paper's attorney read an apology for the story, published earlier this year. Read more here.

May 25, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Child Director, Investor, Settle Dispute

Eleven-year-old Dominic Scott Kay and and Conroy Kanter have settled their argument over creative control concerning the film "Saving Angelo", which stars Kevin Bacon. Mr. Kay claimed Ms. Kanter had tried to take creative control of the film; Ms. Kanter said she had helped finance the film but was not getting enough credit for her investment. The result? She is getting a producer credit, and he is getting the rights. Read more here.

May 24, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NYC, New York Civil Liberties Union Settle Dispute Over Filmmaker's Detention, Right to Shoot Footage in Public

The New York Civil Liberties Union and the City of New York have agreed to settle a lawsuit over the city's detention of filmmaker Rakesh Sharma in 2005 while he was shooting footage in Manhattan for a documentary. The NYCLU alleged that the action violated his rights; the city has maintained that law enforcement acted reasonably, particularly in the wake of 9/11 tensions. The city has agreed to create written policies to prevent such situations from occurring in the future. Read more here.

Here's a link to the settlement. Here's a link to the proposed rules.

May 24, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Law Review Devotes Issue To "Televising the Court"

First Impressions, the online law review published by the Michigan Law Review, devotes a symposium issue to the question of "Televising the Supreme Court." Among the contributors are the Honorable Boyce Martin of the 6th Circuit, Professor Christina Whitman of the University of Michigan Law School, Legal Times' Supreme Court Correspondent Tony Mauro, and CSPAN's Bruce D. Collins. Here's a link to the symposium contents. Thanks to editor Scott Wilcox for the info.

May 23, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Whosarat Website: What Price Free Speech

Remember the website "Whosarat", which lists the names of government informants? The New York Times has a feature article about it in today's edition.

May 22, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The IMDB Lawsuit

Findlaw's Julie Hilden writes about a plaintiff's lawsuit against the IMDB database folks for failing to credit him as executive producer for the hit film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and two other films. Attorney David Kronemyer also wanted to be credited for the film "Wishcraft", and a tv movie "Stand and Be Counted."  IMDB responded that it uses the information from the actual screen credits for its database, and Kronemyer wasn't listed. The court ruled in IMDB's favor, primarily on free speech grounds. "Here, the listing of credits on respondent’s Web site is informational rather than directed at sales. According to the evidence submitted in support of the motion, it provides a message board and chat room for members of the public as well as listing of credits for 400,000 movies and television shows. The site is visited by 35 million people
each month. We conclude that the credit listings on respondent’s Web site are not commercial speech and are protected by section 425.16. If appellant’s position that the prospect of some financial benefit from a publication places the material in the area of “commercial speech,” it would include virtually all books, magazines, newspapers, and news broadcasts. There is no authority for so sweeping a definition." He also granted IMDB more than $6000 in attorney's fees.

The case is Kronemyer v. Internet Movie Database, CCA (4th Div.) (decided 4/13/07).

May 22, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

California Supreme Court Allows Intrusion Case to Proceed to Trial

The closely watched case of Taus v. Loftis is apparently proceeding to trial, after the California Supreme Court found that plaintiff Nicole Taus presented  enough evidence to proceed to trial under a common law theory of intrusion into seclusion. Noted expert witness Elizabeth Loftus, who testifies regularly in "false memory" cases, is one of the defendants here.

In this particular case, the plaintiff, Ms. Taus, claims that Dr. Loftus improperly obtained information about Ms. Taus' foster mother, from whom Ms. Taus was estranged, by misrepresenting herself as associated with Ms. Taus' former mental health professional. Dr. Loftus denied that allegation. For many years Ms. Taus had been under the care of a psychiatrist, who had reported on her care in the medical literature. Dr. Loftus had investigated that case and wanted to critique it. Read more about her criticism of Ms. Taus' treatment in a pair of Skeptical Inquirer articles (also mentioned in the opinion) here and here.

"In the present case, Loftus was seeking to obtain from Cantrell, plaintiff's former foster mother, personal information about plaintiff relating both to plaintiff's memory of ostensible sexual abuse to which plaintiff had been subjected as a child by her mother, and to the effect of plaintiff's asserted recovery of that memory on plaintiff's subsequent behavior and emotional well-being — certainly the type of information as to which a person ordinarily would possess a reasonable expectation of privacy. (In this regard, it is relevant to recall that at the time Cantrell agreed to speak to Loftus about these matters, the fact that plaintiff was the “Jane Doe” referred to in Corwin and Olafson's 1997 Child Maltreatment article, or, indeed, the circumstance that plaintiff assertedly had been sexually abused as a child, was not a matter of general or public knowledge.) Furthermore, as revealed by Loftus's declaration, through her questioning of Cantrell, Loftus was able to obtain access to previously undisclosed information concerning plaintiff's alleged promiscuity and drug use following her 1995 session with Corwin — again, the kind of very personal and potentially embarrassing or detrimental information as to which a person ordinarily would possess a reasonable expectation of privacy.

"Of course, unlike some of the hypothetical scenarios described above, in the present case Loftus did not obtain access to this very personal information about plaintiff by breaking into Cantrell's home or by wiretapping her telephone, but instead obtained the information by questioning Cantrell. Because plaintiff had agreed to permit Corwin to use her case study at educational seminars and in an article published in a scientific journal — albeit without identifying plaintiff by name — it may well be that plaintiff could not have had an objectively reasonable expectation that an investigator or academic researcher, like Loftus, would not discover her identity and pose probing questions to Cantrell relating to such personal matters. In any event, because, as explained below, as a matter of law Loftus's simple engagement in such questioning would not constitute “highly offensive” is clear that plaintiff would have no cause of action under the intrusion tort if, in response to such questioning by Loftus, Cantrell freely and voluntarily revealed this personal information about plaintiff to Loftus.

"According to Cantrell's declaration, however, Loftus did not simply approach Cantrell with questions about plaintiff, but instead misrepresented her (Loftus's) relationship with Corwin (a psychiatrist with whom plaintiff had a friendly and trusting professional relationship) — stating that she (Loftus) was Corwin's associate or supervisor — in order to persuade Cantrell to disclose personal information about plaintiff to Loftus. If Loftus engaged in such behavior, we cannot say, as a matter of law, that such questionable and unorthodox action constitutes conduct that plaintiff reasonably should have foreseen or anticipated. Instead, we believe a jury could find that plaintiff reasonably expected that an investigator would not seek and obtain access to such personal information about her from a relative or friend by falsely posing as an associate or supervisor of a mental health professional in whom plaintiff had confided."
The case is Taus v. Loftus, 40 Cal. 4th 683; 151 P. 3d 1185; 54 Cal. Rptr 3d 775; 35 Med. L. Rptr. 1657 (2007).

May 22, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 21, 2007

MySpace Shifts Gears, Agrees to Share Data on Sex Offenders

MySpace has decided to share the data on sex offenders requested by the attorneys general of eight states that it had originally deemed was protected by federal and state privacy laws. The company had been voluntarily removing such data in an effort to make its site safer for users. Read more here.

May 21, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)