Saturday, February 24, 2007
The FCC may fine Univision an amazing amount of money for trying to disguise programming more suited for adults as "educational programming" that complies with the Children's Television Act, the New York Times reports. FCC Chair Kevin Martin supports the notion of such a fine, which he believes the network merits for presenting telenovelas such as Complices al Rescate (Friends to the Rescue) and other shows as children's programming in order to discharge its responsibilities under the statute. Apparently, in order to secure a buyout deal, Univision has agreed to the fine, subject to a vote by the FCC Commissioners. Read more in a story in the Houston Chronicle.
Friday, February 23, 2007
From an FCC Press Release
CHAIRMAN KEVIN J. MARTIN ANNOUNCES HIS INTENTION TO APPOINT DEREK POARCH PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU CHIEF
Today, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin announced his intention to appoint Derek Poarch, a North Carolina police chief, as the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief. Chief Poarch, a native of Lenoir, N.C., is presently the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his new role, Chief Poarch will oversee the bureau responsible for FCC activities pertaining to public safety, homeland security, emergency management and disaster preparedness.
“Public safety is one of the Commission’s and my top priorities, and I am very pleased that Chief Poarch, who is a highly accomplished and nationally respected law enforcement officer, has agreed to head our bureau,” Chairman Martin said.
Chief Poarch assumed the position of Director of Public Safety at UNC-Chapel Hill on September 14, 1998. In this position, Chief Poarch commands a department of approximately 300 full and part-time employees providing police, security, emergency communications, parking and transportation services to a university community of 45,000 persons that has more than a million visitors each year.
UNC’s public safety department is one of only 30 college and university public safety agencies in the country that are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.
Read the original press release here.
The Guardian reports that more government regulation of junk food advertising may be on the way in the wake of Ofcom's new TV rules aimed at protecting children from the effects of what it has defined as less than nutritional goodies. Health minister Caroline Flint says, "We now look to the Committee of Advertising Practice to put in place similar rules for other media such as cinema, magazines and the internet." Read more in a Guardian article here. Read Ofcom's statement on the television advertising of food and drink products to children here.
Abdel-Karim Nabil Suleiman has received a four year prison sentence for "insulting Islam" and other content, the result of posts on his blog last year. Read more about the case and about other crackdowns on bloggers and media criticism of the government here in a Guardian article.
The media reports that prosecutors have charged Salvador Nunez with copyright infringement for uploading a copy of the film Flushed Away to the Internet. Mr. Nunez is reported to have obtained the film from his sister, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Read more here. The San Jose Mercury News has some additional information here. The Academy sends copies of Oscar-nominated films ("screeners") in advance to voting members so that they can make their selections. Screeners are encoded and can be traced to the Academy members who originally received them.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Conrad Black is back in court, but this time he's the plaintiff, and he is suing over Tom Bower's biography of him, which he alleges is"vindictive, high-handed, contemptuous, sadistic, pathologically mendacious and malicious". Lord Black, who is under indictment in the U.S., claims the book damages his good name. Mr. Bower's publisher is HarperCollins. Read more here in the Guardian and here in the Globe and Mail.
The Guardian examines how a lone hacker was able to doom the next generation of DVD encryption: AACS (Advanced Access Content System) and cost the movie industry millions in just days. What, if anything, can Hollywood do to protect the content of DVDs? Is encryption a viable approach to protect rights? Read more here.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Ernest Zundel, the German citizen who lived in both Canada and the United States between the late 1950s and 2005, before Canada deported him to Germany, and published his views challenging the reality of the Holocaust in print and on a website over the years, has received a five year prison sentence from a German court for various crimes including incitement to racial hatred. Read more in a CBC story here. Several countries in the EU in addition to Germany have laws forbidding the denial of the existence of the Holocaust including Austria, Belgium, and France.
Wendy Seltzer, a visiting professor at Brooklyn Law School, posted a short bit of the recent Super Bowl on YouTube (the part where the NFL says the entire broadcast is copyrighted and for the private use of its audience) in order to illustrate "how far copyright claimants exaggerate their rights." YouTube then sent her a takedown notice. She responded with her own request for reinstatement of the clip, and is waiting for YouTube's answer. She blogs the situation here at Legal Tags and has gotten several interesting comments since. The Chronicle of Higher Education has taken notice here.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
The dispute over where Anna Nicole Smith should be interred is being covered live by the media on MSNBC. Howard K. Stern's attorney has just introduced footage from Entertainment Tonight over the objections of the attorney for Ms. Smith's mother, who asked whether she would be allowed to introduce her own videos, and whether this footage was unaltered. The judge said something to the effect that he knew "how these things worked" and instructed Mr. Stern's attorney to continue. The footage is intended to provide evidence about Ms. Smith's relationship with her mother shortly before the celebrity's death. The media, which has covered the Anna Nicole Smith saga with such eagerness, is now part of the story.
Monday, February 19, 2007
Bloomberg.com reports that Sirius Satellite Radio plans to acquire XM Satellite Radio for more than 4.5 billion dollars. The companies will require an OK from federal regulators to complete such a merger. Read more about the plan here. Rumors have been floating about a get-together between the radio rivals for several weeks.
Cameron Diaz, who sued in the British courts over that National Enquirer story that she kissed the married Shane Nickerson in an improper way, has gotten "substantial" damages from the paper's parent company, American Media, in an undisclosed out of court settlement just as the trial opened. The original story ran on the website, and since the paper removed it after Ms. Diaz objected, her attorney had to establish that enough British readers had seen it to allow the British courts to take jurisdiction. The paper's attorney apologized for the story. Read more about the case here in the Guardian and here in the Press-Gazette. On the issue of defamation via website publication in the UK see Dow Jones v. Jameel (decided 2005) "At the end of the day the trial will determine whether the publications made to the five subscribers were protected by qualified privilege. If they were not, it does not seem to us that the jury can properly be directed to award other than very modest damages indeed. These should reflect the fact that the publications can have done minimal damage to the claimant's reputation. Certainly this will be the case if the three subscribers who were in the claimant's camp prove to have accessed the Golden Chain list in the knowledge of what they would find on it and the other two had never heard of the claimant"(requiring that the plaintiff establish a minimum standard of publication--hearers--in order to proceed with the case).
Sunday, February 18, 2007
The New York Times has an interesting article about some recordings released to document the career of the late concert pianist Joyce Hatto. Did she make them, or are they actually recordings by other artists, including Lazlo Simon. Reporter Alan Riding discusses this mystery here.