Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, August 29, 2008

Comcast Gets Strict With Customers

Comcast is putting its customers on an Internet diet, beginning in October. It's now telling users they may only upload and download 250 gigabytes a month. It has already begun a policy of cutting off users who, in its view, use "too much" bandwidth. Read more here in an AP story.

August 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

COWs, COLTs, and GOATs Ready For Gustav

According to an article by AP reporter Peter Svensson, Hurricane Gustav may test whether the nation's wireless carriers have figured out how to respond to natural disasters. They've come up with a menagerie of equipment to meet customer and company needs, ranging from cell towers that can be towed around (COWs) to generators that can be repositioned (GOATs). But a FCC proposal to revamp the underlying problem--that of an inability to communicate across networks--remains. Read more here.

August 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tropical Storm (Soon To Be Hurricane) Gustav Update

It looks like Gustav is headed our way and will hit as at least a Cat 3, and maybe a Cat 4, so we may be without power for some time next week, perhaps starting Monday afternoon.

From the Office of Public Affairs, Louisiana State University

Due to the threat posed by Tropical Storm Gustav, LSU will be closed on Tuesday, Sept. 2.  The LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center and the LSU Agricultural Center Baton Rouge offices will also be closed.  AgCenter offices from other parishes should follow their own parish Office of Emergency Preparedness guidelines.

LSU officials will continue to monitor the storm and a decision on whether or not the university will reopen on Wednesday, Sept. 3, will be made accordingly. The decision about Wednesday will be announced through the news media, broadcast e-mail and the LSU Web site at www.lsu.edu.

LSU’s Web site will be continually updated with the latest information, and LSU’s emergency hotline number, 1-800-516-6444 or 578-INFO (4636), will also be kept up-to-date.

Loyola New Orleans Law School is closed. Tulane University Law School is closed. Southern University Law Center is closed. You can also check here for B.R., New Orleans, and general Louisiana information.

Watch the Weather Channel, and please keep us in your thoughts.

August 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Publisher Asks For Verdict, Jury Award, To Be Overturned in Defonseca Case

Jane Daniel, the publisher of Mt. Ivy Press, is seeking to have a judgment against her overturned after the plaintiff in that lawsuit, Misha Defonseca, admitted earlier this year that statements in the book Ms. Daniel published are fabricated. Ms. Defonseca claimed in the book, Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years, that she was a Holocaust survivor, but now says that she is not Jewish. Her real story may be just as dramatic. However, she and her ghostwriter say that the statute of limitations for appealing the verdict has expired, and that it was not based on the content of the book, but on Ms. Daniel's failure to promote the book. Ms. Daniel claims that since the verdict was based on untruth, it should not be upheld. Here's more from the Gloucester Times.

August 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nicholas Kristof on Media Ethics

Nicholas Kristof discusses his reporting on the anthrax investigation involving Dr. Steven Hatfill and apologizes to Dr. Hatfill, offers some hypotheticals involving other high profile cases, and wonders about when reporters report, and when they keep still. Read his column here.

August 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Blogger Arraigned On Charges of Violating Copyright After Posting Guns 'n Roses Songs To Website

The BBC reports that blogger Kevin Cogill has made bail after being arraigned on charges of having violated the copyright laws for posting nine Guns 'n Roses songs on his website. The songs are believed to come from the band's as yet unreleased album "Chinese Democracy." Read more here. Here's the controversial post, now edited. Here's more from the Press Association.

August 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mail On Sunday Apologizes To Sir Salman Rushdie Over Excerpts From Book

The Guardian reports that the Mail on Sunday says it will apologize to author Salman Rushdie for reprinting statements from a book it excerpted; Sir Salman won a libel judgment against the book's author, Ron Evans, this week. The book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, included claims that Sir Salman was "unhygenic" and that he was nicknamed "Scruffy." Read more here.

August 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mail On Sunday Apologizes To Sir Salman Rushdie Over Excerpts From Book

The Guardian reports that the Mail on Sunday says it will apologize to author Salman Rushdie for reprinting statements from a book it excerpted; Sir Salman won a libel judgment against the book's author, Ron Evans, this week. The book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, included claims that Sir Salman was "unhygenic" and that he was nicknamed "Scruffy." Read more here.

August 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Mail On Sunday Apologizes To Sir Salman Rushdie Over Excerpts From Book

The Guardian reports that the Mail on Sunday says it will apologize to author Salman Rushdie for reprinting statements from a book it excerpted; Sir Salman won a libel judgment against the book's author, Ron Evans, this week. The book, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, included claims that Sir Salman was "unhygenic" and that he was nicknamed "Scruffy." Read more here.

August 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

U. S. Patent Office Will Continue To Re-Examine Blackboard Patent

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the U.S. Patent Office has denied a request from Blackboard, the course management software company, to stay a review of a patent the Office had granted the company. Blackboard is in the midst of a lawsuit over the patent with Desire2Learn, another company that deals in course management software.

August 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ABC Producer Arrested Outside Brown Palace Hotel

ABC News reports that one of its producers was arrested as he and his crew filmed Senators and others leaving the Brown Palace Hotel. ABC says its employees were on a public sidewalk at the time. The hotel filed a complaint. The producer, Asa Eslocker, is charged with trespass and interference. The hotel filed a complaint. Read more here and watch a video clip. Here's more from the Denver Post.

August 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

The Effects of Illegal Music Downloading on Sales

Jordi Mckenzie, University of Sydney, has published "Illegal Music Downloading and its Impact on Legitimate Sales: Australian Empirical Evidence." Here is the abstract.
    
This paper explores illegal music file-sharing activity and its effect on Australian sales of singles in the physical and digital retail markets. Using fifteen weeks of Australian Recording Industry Association weekly chart rankings of physical and digital sales, combined with a proxy for download activity derived from the popular peer-to-peer (P2P) network 'Limewire', the evidence suggests no discernible impact of download activity on legitimate sales. Whilst significant negative correlation between chart rank and download activity is observed in the digital market, once download endogeneity is purged from the model and song heterogeneity is controlled for no significant relationship remains.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

August 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (4)

A Policeman's Lot Is Not a Happy One

The Advertising Standards Authority has sided with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents over an advertisement run by the National Policing Improvement Agency intended to recruit new special constables. It showed a police officer entering a shop with a sign that read "sweets, mags, drugs" and read "It's your community. See what's really happening." The NFRN complained that the advertisement was "offensive and misleading because it implied that small newsagents were involved in the drugs industry". Said the ASA,

[T]he aim of the ad was to encourage the recruitment of Special Constables to the police service, and that the role required local knowledge, alongside an ability to look beyond first impressions and not to assume things within a community were always as they seemed.

We acknowledged that the inclusion of a newsagents shop in the ad was meant to represent a familiar aspect of the local community which might be hiding criminality behind a respectable front.  We considered, however, that some people would interpret the ad as suggesting that small or local newsagents were likely to be involved in the drugs industry.   Because of that, we concluded that the ad might mislead or cause offence.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 5.1 (Decency) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).

Read the entire ruling here.

August 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (5)

The FTC, Sales Rules, and Prerecorded Sales Calls

Eric Sinrod discusses the FTC's decision to move on all those annoying prerecorded sales calls.

August 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Update: Mattel Gets $100 Million Award

A federal jury has awarded Mattel $100 million in that infringemant lawsuit over the Bratz dolls against MGA. Read more here.

August 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

FBI Explains Seizure of Journalist Phone Records--It Was a "Miscommunication"

Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI, has defended the seizure of reporters' phone records in 2004, saying it was the result of a "miscommunication" rather than abuse, and has apologized to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Another FBI official, Valerie Caproni, has offered further explanation. She said that although what the FBI meant to do was to request a subpoena through proper channels, the result was an "exigent letter", via the terrorism unit. Read more in this AP story in the San Jose Mercury News. Here's background from the Times from 2007 and an update from August 9, 2008.

August 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

What About Broadband Access?

Daniel F. Spulber, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and Christopher S. Yoo, University of Pennsylvania Law School and Annennberg School for Communication, have published "Rethinking Broadband Internet Access," in volume 22 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology (2008). Here is the abstract.
The emergence of broadband Internet technologies, such as cable modem and digital subscriber line (DSL) systems, has reopened debates over how the Internet should be regulated. Advocates of network neutrality and open access to cable modem systems have proposed extending the regulatory regime developed to govern conventional telephone and narrowband Internet service to broadband. A critical analysis of the rationales traditionally invoked to justify the regulation of telecommunications networks - such as natural monopoly, network economic effects, vertical exclusion, and the dangers of ruinous competition - reveals that those rationales depend on empirical and theoretical preconditions that do not apply to broadband. In addition, the current policy debate treats access to networks as a unitary phenomenon that fails to take into account how different types of access requirements can affect network performance in widely divergent ways. The current debate also fails to capture how individual network elements can interact in ways that can be quite unpredictable. In this Article, Professors Spulber and Yoo analyze broadband access using a theory of network configuration based on a branch of mathematics known as graph theory, which captures the interactions between individual components that cause networks to behave as complex systems. This theory yields a five-part classification system that provides insights into the effect of different types of access on network cost, capacity, reliability, and transaction costs.
Download the article from SSRN here.

August 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Legality of "Rolling Contracts"

Florencia Marotta-Wurgler, New York University School of Law, has published "Are 'Pay Now, Terms Later' Contracts Worse for Buyers? Evidence from Software License Agreements," in volume 38 of the Journal of Legal Studies (2009). Here is the abstract.
    
The rise of commerce over the Internet and telephone has led to widespread use of "pay now, terms later" or "rolling" standard form contracts, in which buyers are not able to read the standard terms until after they have purchased the product. While some scholars and judges argue that rolling contracts do not merit special attention, others, including consumer advocates, are concerned that sellers take advantage of delayed disclosure by hiding especially unfavorable terms. I find no evidence for this view. In a large sample of software license agreements, I find that software publishers that use rolling contracts for their online sales offer do not offer more one-sided terms than those who make their licenses available prior to purchase. The results suggest that to the extent there are inefficiencies associated with standard form contracts, they are not made worse by delayed disclosure.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

August 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Legislating Broadband in West Virginia

Dan Casto, West Virginia University College of Law, has published "West Virginia's Broadband Woes: The State's Failed Efforts to Enter the Twenty-First Century." Here is the abstract.
    
West Virginia needs to improve its broadband infrastructure if it is to move into the new economy. The state's government and private sector have recognized the issues surrounding broadband internet access in West Virginia. However, the state has failed to make significant progress towards improving broadband access. The Legislature has attempted to take action, but one attempt died in committee, and another was killed by the Governor's veto pen. As a result, local governments have begun their own efforts towards expanding broadband, which is questionable under existing law. In order for these types of local projects to become more prevalent and successful it is necessary for the Legislature to enact comprehensive legislation that will grease the wheels of progress.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

August 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Purposes of IP Law

Roberta Rosenthall Kwall, DePaul University School of Law, Tulane University School of Law, has published "The Soul of Creativity: Should Intellectual Property Law Protect the Integrity of a Creator's Work - International Norms," part of her book, The Soul of Creativity: Should Intellectual Property Law Protect the Integrity of a Creator's Work (Stanford University Press, 2009). Here is the abstract.
    
This Chapter explores in general terms the treatment accorded authors in foreign jurisdictions. In contrast to the United States, many countries maintain authors' rights protections that enable authors to safeguard the integrity of their texts far more readily than authors in this country. Thus, the United States is out of step with global norms by not recognizing more substantial authors' rights. Moreover, the Internet environment makes the United States' deficiency particularly problematic because violations of textual integrity can occur with unprecedented ease, and the results can be disseminated to countless recipients with the mere press of a key. Yet, these differences cannot be so easily remedied because certain cultural and legal differences preclude the wholesale adoption of another country's approach absent careful consideration of its fit into our existing legal framework.
Download the chapter from SSRN here.

August 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)