Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Photographer Gets 140 Hours of Community Service for Assault on Heather Mills McCartney

Jay Kaycappa, who was found guilty earlier this summer of assaulting Heather Mills McCartney while he tried to get a photo of her, has been sentenced to 140 hours of community service and a 100 pound fine. He must also pay a fifty pound fine to her friend Mark Payne; he was also found guilty of assaulting Mr. Payne in a separate incident. Mr. Kaycappa must also pay court costs. Read more here.

August 17, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Scott Moss on the Don Imus Settlement With CBS and the Kia Vaughn Defamation Lawsuit Against Don Imus

Here's FindLaw's Scott Moss on Don Imus's recently settled wrongful dismissal case against CBS and the recently filed defamation lawsuit against Don Imus. In his opinion, the settlement's a good idea, and the defamation suit's a bad one, for the plaintiff.

August 17, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Beaufort Books Will Publish Simpson Manuscript

That O. J. Simpson manuscript "If I Did It" which caused so much controversy and cost Judith Regan her publishing imprint and her job may finally see the light of day. The Goldman family obtained the rights to it in a judicial proceeding a few weeks ago and has negotiated with Beaufort Books to publish it, probably under a new title. Meanwhile, Denise Brown, sister of the late Nicole Brown Simpson, is protesting the Goldman family's plan to publish the work.

August 16, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

KinderUSA, Laila Al-Marayati Drop Lawsuit Against Yale, Author; Cambridge Agrees to Destroy Unsold Copies of "Alms For Jihad"

Kinder USA and its chair, Dr. Laila Al-Marayati, have abandoned their defamation suit against Dr. Matthew Levitt and his publisher, Yale University Press. The suit concerned Dr. Levitt's book Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad. According to a press release from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where Dr. Levitt is a senior fellow, "In addition to dismissing its lawsuit, the plaintiffs released all their claims based on Dr. Levitt's book. Dr. Levitt, The Washington Institute, and Yale University Press are not obligated to make any changes to Hamas, they are not limited in what they can write in the future, and they have not offered or given any compensation -- monetary or otherwise, now or in the future -- to plaintiffs for their dismissal of the suit."

Read the entire press release here. Read more about the history of the suit in an article in the New Haven Independent here.

Meanwhile, rather than go to court, Cambridge University Press has agreed to destroy all unsold copies of Alms for Jihad, a book that Saudi banker Khalid bin Mahfouz complains has defamed him. The Press has also asked all libraries that have purchased copies to remove them from shelves. The American Library Association has issued a statement clarifying its position on this question. It says in part:

Unless there is an order from a U.S. court, the British settlement is unenforceable in the United States, and libraries are under no legal obligation to return or destroy the book. Libraries are considered to hold title to the individual copy or copies, and it is the library's property to do with as it pleases. Given the intense interest in the book, and the desire of readers to learn about the controversy first hand, we recommend that U.S. libraries keep the book available for their users.

I checked some Internet op book dealers. Copies are scarce, and those available are going for more than one hundred dollars each.

August 16, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Imus, CBS Settle Over Dismissal

Just as Don Imus and CBS settled his lawsuit over CBS' dismissal of him back in April over his incautious remarks regarding the Rutgers' women's basketball team, one of the team members has finally filed a lawsuit over those remarks. Kia Vaughn sued the former radio host as well as CBS for defamation in New York state court, alleging damage to her reputation.

August 15, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Journalists Who Give Their Lives in Pursuit of the Story

Ross Howard discusses what it takes to be a journalist in the midst of conflict of Somalia here in an essay exclusive to the Globe and Mail online. He says in part, "What goes unappreciated in the West is how many journalists elsewhere are denied the ordinary freedoms Western media has enjoyed. With corrupt judges and licensing, intimidated regulators and partisan police, the possibilities of retaliation against fair and balanced reporting are endless. With media owners on political, military or gangster payrolls, the job security for impartial reporters is tenuous. There are neither journalists' unions nor civil and criminal laws, let alone political commitment, strong enough to protect even the basics of journalism. In places where I've trained, we inevitably end up discussing this. And yet, in my experience, even in these dire environments, there are journalists who want to sneak balanced reporting into their copy or programming; to make their work a public service rather than political or extremist or purely corporate propaganda. Several of the nearly two-dozen Somali journalists I trained in June (in nearby, safer Djibouti), on behalf of the Danish NGO International Media Support, reminded me of Mahad Ahmed Elmi. They were keen, albeit war-weary. They wanted more training and more handbooks. They believed their work would make a difference, that one day Somalia would recover peace."

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August 15, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Comic Book Storeowner Trial Begins

Gordon Lee, owner of a comic book store in Rome, Georgia, goes on trial this month for distributing material harmful to a minor. As a treat at Halloween, 2004, Mr. Lee handed out free comics to the children visiting his store. One, allegedly featuring Pablo Picasso's genitalia, got into the possession of two small boys. Their mother refused to accept Mr. Lee's apology, and criminal charges followed. Read more here. Here's an audio story from NPR.

August 14, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reporters Must Testify in Hatfill Lawsuit--Judge Walton

U. S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton has ruled that five reporters--Michael Isikoff, Daniel Klaidman, Allan Lengel, Toni Locy, and James Stewart--must testify in the lawsuit Dr. Steven Hatfill has brought against the U. S Department of Justice. But he quashed the subpoenas Dr. Hatfill brought against various members of the media, including ABC and the Washington Post. Comparing Dr. Hatfill's case to the Wen Ho Lee case, Judge Walton said in part, "...Lee issued subpoenas to the various journalists seeking their testimony and documents relating to the leaks, “reasoning that his other discovery attempts had produced and would continue to produce no results.” Id. The journalists moved to quash the subpoenas, and the District Court denied the motions and ordered the journalist to “appear for [] depositions and ‘truthfully answer questions as to the identity of any officer or agent of defendants, or any of them, who provided information directly about Wen Ho Lee, and as to the nature of the information so provided.’” Id. The District Court concluded “that Lee had met both of [the Zerilli] guidelines to overcome the journalists’ qualified privilege,” finding “that the information was clearly central to the case” and “that Lee had exhausted all reasonable alternatives.” Id. at 57. The Lee Court found that the second Zerilli guideline had been satisfied because the depositions Lee had already taken “showed a pattern of evasion and stonewalling” and because he had used the main discovery devices prescribed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for obtaining the type of information he sought to acquire from the reporters. Id. As noted already, the journalists were required to “appear for depositions and ‘truthfully answer questions as to the identify of any officer or agent of defendants, or any of them, who provided information directly about [Lee], and as to the nature of the information so provided.” Id. at 56. However, “[a]fter the journalists were deposed and refused to answer certain questions, . . . [they] were held in contempt.” Id. at 57. Upon refusing “to reconsider on the privilege issue,” the District Court “fined each [journalist] $500 per day, [but] stayed the fines pending appeal.” Id. Ultimately, the Circuit Court affirmed the District Court’s ruling with respect to four of the five journalists." (footnotes omitted). He also rejected claims of federal common law reporter's privilege.

However, with regard to the media subpoenas, Judge Walton continued, "As to the media companies (and their reporters), from whom no discovery efforts have been directed – The New York Times, the Associated Press, and the Baltimore Sun – the Court has the same view concerning Dr. Hatfill’s failure to satisfy the exhaustion requirement as prescribed by Zerilli and Lee. Enforcing the Rule 30(b)(6) subpoenas served on these companies would, in and of themselves, not provide Dr. Hatfill with admissible evidence that he would be able to use at trial to prove the elements of his Privacy Act claims. Any information the corporate representatives of these entities provided through their depositions concerning the identities of the government sources would in all likelihood constitute inadmissible hearsay, as their knowledge would presumably be based on what they learned from someone other than the sources themselves."

Read the entire opinion here. Read Adam Liptak's article in today's New York Times here.

August 14, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Journalists Charged Under Health Act

Two journalists apparently in pursuit of a story about the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain have been charged with breaching the Animal Health Act and are set to appear in court. They face fines or six months in jail if found guilty. Read more here.

August 13, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

No Charges for French Teenager Who Posted Unauthorized Translation of Latest Harry Potter Novel

Eh bien! That French teenager will not be charged with infringement for posting an unauthorized translation of the latest Harry Potter novel, after an agreement was reached with author J. K. Rowling. The young man, apparently an avid fan, only wanted to satisfy the interest of other French readers, not make money. Read more here in a BBC story.

August 13, 2007 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)