Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

District Court Rules Computer Programmer a Public Figure for Purposes of Defamation Suit

A federal judge has determined that a computer programmer who has spoken and written about QDOS, an early operating software system, is a limited purpose public figure for purposes of a defamation suit which he has filed against a publisher, and must demonstrate actual malice if he wishes to prevail in that suit. Since he is unlikely to be able to demonstrate actual malice, the judge dismissed the suit. The case is Paterson v. Little, Brown, W.D. Wash., No. C05-1719Z, 7/25/07). Here's a link to the original complaint, and a link to the motion to dismiss. Groklaw has much more on this case here.

August 9, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

French Detain Teenager After He Posts Translation of Latest Harry Potter Book On Web

A French prosecutor is deciding what charges to bring against a sixteen-year-old who translated the last Harry Potter novel in an apparent feat of magic and posted the result online within days of the book's appearance on July 21st. The novel's official translator is still working on his version for Gallimard Jeunesse. Aix prosecutor Olivier Rothe said the young man didn't appear to have done the deed for money, but for the love of anxious Francophone Potter-ites everywhere. Read more here.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

TRO Issued In Anna Nicole Breast Implant Tape Case

Howard K. Stern, the executor of Anna Nicole Smith's estate, has obtained a temporary restraining order forbidding the physician who performed the late celebrity's breast implant surgery to engage in the "sale,distribution or dissemination of the videotape" showing the surgery. Mr. Stern says the physician did not have Ms. Smith's consent to tape her during the procedure. Dr. Gerald Johnson (or according to the website, his wife) had tried to sell the tape to a dealer in Los Angeles. Read more here. See the documents here.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Man Arrested in Shooting of Oakland Journalist

Oakland officials have charged 19-year-old DeVaughndre Broussard, an employee of Your Black Muslim Bakery, in the murder of Chauncey Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post. Mr. Bailey was reportedly investigating the Bakery; police believe that investigation may have served as the impetus for the murder. Mr. Bailey was killed last week and buried at St. Benedict's Church in Oakland today. Read more here.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FindLaw's Hilden on the Proposed Federal Reporter's Shield Law and the Blogger as Reporter

FindLaw's Julie Hilden discusses why she supports enactment of H.R. 2102, the Free Flow of Information Act (otherwise known as the federal reporter's shield law) but thinks it should also squarely address some crucial questions. She notes that H.R. 2102, as written, seems to omit some important protections. It contains a "national security exception", for example. It also fails to address the question of the individual who does not meet the traditional journalist definition, such as people like video blogger Josh Wolf or instructor Vanessa Leggett, both of whom tried and failed to assert a journalist's privilege. Read more here.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Common Carrier Obligations Concerning Roaming

The FCC has issued this clarification concerning automatic roaming on mobile phones.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Report and Order (Order) and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) adopted today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) clarified the roaming obligations of Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS) providers, stating that automatic roaming is a common carrier obligation for CMRS carriers.  Automatic roaming allows roaming mobile telephone customers to place calls as they do in their home coverage area, by simply entering a phone number and pressing “send.”

The FCC required CMRS carriers to provide roaming services to other carriers upon reasonable request and on a just, reasonable, and non-discriminatory basis under Sections 201 and 202 of the Communications Act.  When a reasonable request is made by a technologically compatible CMRS carrier, a host CMRS carrier must provide automatic roaming to the requesting carrier outside of the requesting carrier’s home market.  The FCC also decided to maintain its existing manual roaming requirement, which requires CMRS providers to permit customers of other carriers to roam manually on their networks, for example by supplying a credit card number, provided that the roamers’ handsets are technically capable of accessing the roamed-on network. 

The common carrier obligation to provide roaming extends to real-time, two-way switched voice or data services that are interconnected with the public switched network and utilize an in-network switching facility that enables the provider to reuse frequencies and accomplish seamless hand-offs of subscriber calls.  The FCC also extended the automatic roaming obligation to “Push-to-Talk” and text messaging services, and sought comment on whether the roaming obligation should be extended to services that are classified as information services or to services that are not CMRS.

In the current wireless marketplace, CMRS consumers increasingly rely on mobile telephony services and reasonably expect to continue their wireless communications even when they are out of their home network area, and today’s decision will provide additional flexibility for consumers. 

Action by the Commission on August 7, 2007, by Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 07-143). Chairman Martin, Commissioners Tate and McDowell,

with Commissioners Copps and Adelstein concurring in part.  Separate statements issued by Chairman Martin and Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate, and McDowell.

For additional information, contact Nese Guendelsberger at (202) 418-0634 or; Won Kim at (202) 418-1368 or; or Christina Clearwater at (202) 418-1893 or

Read the press release here.

August 8, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

J. K. Rowling Loses Invasion of Privacy Claim Against Newspaper, Photography Agency

J. K. "Harry Potter" Rowling has lost an intrusion into seclusion claim against the Sunday Express and the copyright holders of a photo of her and her young son David which the Express published of the two on a London street.  The judge ruled it a depiction of "an area of routine activity which, when conducted in a public place, carries no guarantee of privacy". Ms. Rowling will have to pay costs. However, the judge has allowed an appeal. Read more here in a BBC story.

August 7, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 6, 2007

Pedophiles and Free Speech

FindLaw's Sherry Colb discusses the Jack McClellan case and the pedophile's right to free speech here. On Saturday a Los Angeles judge granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting Mr. McClellan from coming within 10 yards of any minor and prohibiting him from photographing or contacting a minor without parental consent. Read more in a Los Angeles Times story here.

August 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Fake Steve? Real Steve? Real Fun

The New York Times's Brad Stone writes about the blogger who was the "fake Steve Jobs" for over a year on a blog called The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs here. The "real" "fake Steve" is veteran reporter and writer Daniel Lyons of Forbes magazine, who has a new book coming out, based on his experiences as "Fake Steve."

August 6, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)