Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

One Year After Hrant Dink's Murder

A year after he was assassinated, journalist Hrant Dink was memoralized by those who wished to honor his efforts on behalf of freedom of speech. Meanwhile nineteen people charged with complicity in his death are on trial in Istanbul. Read more here.

January 19, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Publisher Sentenced To Three Years for Reproducing "Prophet Mohammed" Cartoons

Alexander Sdvizhkov, the editor of the Belarus newspaper Zgoda (Consensus), has received a three year sentence for publication of the cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed that first appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2005. Many in the country have condemned the sentence, and Mr. Sdvizhkov's attorney says an appeal is planned. Read more here.

January 19, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 18, 2008

DGA, AMPTP To Ink Deal

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) has apparently reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), averting a walkout that might have rivaled that of the WGA, which has now now hit the two month mark. Read more here.

Here's the announcement from the DGA website.

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced today that it has concluded a tentative agreement on the terms of a new 3-year collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

Highlights of the new agreement include:

  • Increases both wages and residual bases for each year of the contract.
  • Establishes DGA jurisdiction over programs produced for distribution on the Internet.
  • Establishes new residuals formula for paid Internet downloads (electronic sell-through) that essentially doubles the rate currently paid by employers.
  • Establishes residual rates for ad-supported streaming and use of clips on the Internet.

Here's the announcement from the AMTPT website (a joint statement).

The agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Directors Guild of America establishes an important precedent:  Our industry’s creative talent will now participate financially in every emerging area of new media.  The agreement demonstrates beyond any doubt that our industry’s producers are willing and able to work with the creators of entertainment content to establish fair and flexible rules for this fast-changing marketplace.

We hope that this agreement with DGA will signal the beginning of the end of this extremely difficult period for our industry.  Today, we invite the Writers Guild of America to engage with us in a series of informal discussions similar to the productive process that led us to a deal with the DGA to determine whether there is a reasonable basis for returning to formal bargaining.  We look forward to these discussions, and to the day when our entire industry gets back to work.

Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, the Fox Group
Brad Grey, Chairman & CEO, Paramount Pictures Corp.
Robert A. Iger, President & CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Michael Lynton, Chairman & CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros.
Leslie Moonves, President & CEO, CBS Corp.
Harry Sloan, Chairman & CEO, MGM
Jeff Zucker, President & CEO, NBC Universal

January 18, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

French Journalists On Trial in Niger

Two French journalists have been detained for attempting to report on the escalating level of violence in the northern part of the country of Niger. The government says the journalists were permitted to report only on the outbreak of bird flu in the southern part of the country. The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders has been monitoring the reporters' situation since they were detained on December 17th. The reporters work for the tv channel Arce and are on trial this week, charged with "involvement with armed gangs." If found guilty, they could be executed. Read more here.

January 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Group Told It Must Identify Itself in Ads Attacking Clinton's Voting Record

From Legal Times' blog: a federal court has denied Citizens United's request for a preliminary injunction to block the Federal Election Commission's enforcement of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act against it with regard to ads targeting Senator Hilary Clinton's voting record. Here's the ruling.

January 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fifth Circuit Rules That Single Publication Rule Applies to Internet

Nationwide Bi-Weekly Mortgage brought defamation and various other claims against Belo Corporation, The Dallas Morning News, and one of its reporters because of a 2004 article that appeared in the News concerning Nationwide's business practices. The article also appeared on the News's website. For various reasons, Nationwide did not serve the defendants until 2005. The court granted the defendants' 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Nationwide, however, claimed that because the article also appeared on the News website, "each time a viewer accesses the article from the website, a `republication' occurs for statute of limitation purposes. This concept, widely argued but virtually always rejected, is referred to as the `continuous publication rule.'"

The case is one of first impression. "As mentioned, Texas applies the single publication rule to libel cases involving mass media publications....However, Texas courts have not yet considered whether the single publication rule should apply to Internet publications. Accordingly, this court is `required to follow the rule we believe the Texas Supreme Court would adopt.' We may also consider Texas public policy interests."

After considering the rule in other jurisdictions, the court said, "Based on the near unanimity of the large number of courts to apply the single publication rule to Internet publications, the fact that the only case to hold distinguishable, and because sound policy reasons support its application in this context, we hold that the Texas Supreme Court would likely adopt the single publication rule for Internet publications. Applying the single publication rule here, the statute of limitations began to run on July 29, 2003, the date the initial print publication was complete....The only remaining issue is whether posting the article on The Dallas Morning News website constituted a republication giving rise to a new statute of limitations. As noted above, the single publication rule provides that when an allegedly defamatory statement is published in a new format, such as when a hardcover book is republished in paperback form, it is considered "republished" and the statute of limitations begins to run from the date of republication....We need not decide whether posting this article on the Dallas Morning News website constituted a republication because, even if it did, dismissal was appropriate. If the posting of the article on the website resulted in a republication, the statute of limitations would begin to run from the date it was posted. Here it is almost certain that the article was posted...shortly after it appeared in the print edition, but the exact date of posting is not in the record. However, Nationwide concedes...that the article was available online on April 4, 2004....Even assuming that the first day the article was available on the website was April 4, 2004, Nationwide's suit is time-barred."

Read the entire opinion here.

The case is Nationwide Bi-Weekly Administration v. Belo Corp., No. 06-11283, 35 Med. L. Rptr. 1065(U.S.C.A. 5th Cir.)(Dec. 21, 2007).

January 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

The Case of the Cookbooks

Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld are in a stew over cookbooks with Missy Chase Lapine. Ms Lapine, the author of The Sneaky Chef, a New York Times bestseller, claims that the Seinfelds, and more particularly, Ms. Seinfeld, infringed her rights with Ms. Seinfeld's publication Deceptively Delicious. In her new column for FindLaw, Julie Hilden addresses Ms. Lapine's complaints and suggests that her case is not particularly strong. But then there's that defamation claim against Jerry Seinfeld, who defended his wife on the Letterman show....

January 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ouch! Was Photog on Legislative Floor a Paparazzo?

Colorado Republican Douglas Bruce, a member of the State House, is under investigation for kicking a photographer. Javier Monzano, who works for the Rocky Mountain News, took Mr. Bruce's picture while he was standing for a prayer on January 14th, and Mr. Bruce dealt a blow to Mr. Monzano's knee. Mr. Bruce later justified his action by saying, "I think that's the most offensive thing I've seen a photographer do in 21 years." House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (a Dem), and Minority Leader Mike May, a Republican, have formed a committee to investigate the matter. Mr. Monzano's editor said that the photographer had the right to take Mr. Bruce's photograph during the prayer. Read more here and here (from the Rocky Mountain News). Here's the pic that seems to have caused the prob.

January 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Media Oppose Crown's Request for Secrecy in Murder Trial

Media including the Guardian and the BBC have requested that the court hearing the case of Wang Yam, who is accused of murdering an 86-year-old man, deny the government's request that the trial be held in secret for national security reasons. The prosecution told the justices that without a secrecy order the trial probably could not proceed, and that certain documents, presented under a "ministerial certificate" should not be disclosed to the defense. The defense contends that Mr. Yam has given the prosecution names of others who could have committed the crime and that if the trial were held in public, as is usual, information about these persons might be generated. The media would like more information about the need for secrecy. As in the US, British trials are normally held in public. Read more here in an article in the Guardian.

January 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ernest Zundel's Lawyer Sentenced to Prison for Holocaust Denial

Sylvia Stolz, the attorney who defended Ernest Zundel in his first trial against charges that he denied the existence of the Holocaust, has herself been sentenced to three and a half years in prison for making statements that questioned the existence of the Holocaust and the Nazi mass murder of Jews and others. She has also lost her license to practice law for five years. Read more here.

January 14, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Another Plagiarism Scandal?

The New York Times has an article about the current debate over whether romance novelist Cassie Edwards plagiarized passages in several of her books, and the part that bloggers have played in uncovering these questionable passages. Romance writer Nora Roberts told the Associated Press that by her definition, "[c]opying another's work and passing it as your own equals plagiarism. As a writer, a reader and a victim of plagiarism, I feel very strongly on this issue. I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see it as fair use, or fair anything when one writer takes another's work." Signet, Ms. Edwards' current publisher, says it is reviewing the works that she has in print with the company.

January 13, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)