September 20, 2008
J. K. Rowling Donates To Labour Party
J. K. Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" novels, has donated one million pounds to the Labour Party. Her personal fortune is estimated at about 560 million pounds. Read more here.
Cablevision and "Network DVR"
Cablevision is moving toward allowing consumers to tape anything broadcast without the use of DVR technology, while its competitors knit their brows, wondering if the company's recent legal win will stand up to a possible SC challenge. Viewers' choices would be stored on the company's servers, ready for consumption. Easy-peasy. It had better be--I still can't figure out our remotes (yes, plural) without the help of the cats. Read more here.
Watch, Men (and Women): The Big Story May Be Off-Screen
In the September 19th New York Times, Michael Ciepley brings us up to date on the lawsuit involving the big screen film The Watchmen. At issue, who owns the rights to the novel on which the film is based. Read more here.
September 19, 2008
Third Circuit Upholds Lower Court Ruling in ACLU v. Mukasey
Here's a link to the opinion in American Civil Liberties Union v. Mukasey, in which the Third Circuit upholds a lower court ruling finding that COPA is "not narrowly tailored to advance the Government's compelling interest in protecting children from harmful material on the World Wide Web ("Web"); ...there are less restrictive, equally effective alternatives to COPA; and...COPA is impermissibly overbroad and vague."
SAG Members Elect Mavericks To SAG Governing Board
Screen Actors Guild members have elected members of the upstart group Unite For Strength to the governing board of SAG, upsetting those in control of the actors' union and sending a clear signal to SAG President Alan Rosenberg. New UFS members are Amy Brenneman, Kate Walsh, Ken Howard, Pamela Reed and Adam Arkin. Independent member Morgan Fairchild was re-elected. Read more here in a Hollywood Reporter story.
September 18, 2008
What the Public Knows About the First Amendment
Over at BLT, The Blog of Legal Times, Tony Mauro reports on a recent survey that measured the public's awareness concerning the meaning of the First Amendment. Results: mixed. A little more than half our citizens seem to know that freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, but freedom of religion and the press--not so much. Check out Mr. Mauro's post here.
Defamation Suit Against John Grisham, Others Dismissed
U. S. District Judge Ronald White has dismissed a libel suit filed against best selling author John Grisham and two other men filed by three officials involved in the original trial of two defendants in the Debbie Sue Carter murder trial two decades ago. The two men convicted were later released, and another man, who had been a key witness in their trials, was convicted of the crime. The three plaintiffs in the lawsuit alleged that Mr. Grisham and the two other defendants attempted through their writings to generate publicity, to defame the plaintiffs, and to put them in a false light because of their actions during the trial and its aftermath. At issue were Mr. Grisham's book, The Innocent Man, and several other books, including The Dreams of Ada, and Actual Innocence. Read more here and here in an AP story.
September 17, 2008
Stephen Armstrong responds to Mark Austin's critique of pretty faces on the news here.
Pulverizing the Puffin
When popular tv chef Gordon Ramsay killed and ate a puffin on air, outrage hit Channel 4 and Ofcom. But the agency cleared the star of The F Word; apparently killing the cute little bird and munching it on camera doesn't qualify as a breach since it happened in Iceland where the animals aren't protected. Meanwhile, Patrick Barkham comments that even if puffins are tasty, "murdering your meat" is probably not a segment calculated to raise the ratings.
[Image from http://www.seabird.org/birds-puffin.asp; website of the Scottish Seabird Centre].
More on English Libel Law
...and George Monbiot on English libel law...
Jo Burgin Trial Continues
Here's an update on the Jo Burgin unjust dismissal trial.
Guardian Issues Apology To Tesco Over Article; Legal Skirmish Over
The argument between Tesco, the supermarket giant, and the Guardian is over. The paper has apologized over its article alleging that the company had tried to avoid paying tax by setting up offshore schemes. Read more here and read the paper's apology here.
Composer "Loses" His Copyrights After Defamation Case Defeat
After he lost a defamation case over an unfavorable review to the London Evening Standard, composer Keith Burstein says he's now also lost "control" over his copyrights. Mr. Burstein said he got the bad news from the Performing Rights Society, which told him that royalties earned would go directly to pay the paper. Read more here.
Senegalese Newspaper Editor Sentenced To Three Years For Criminal Libel
A Senegalese newspaper editor faces a three year prison sentence after his conviction for criminal libel after statements he made about the President of the country and the President's son. He plans to appeal. Read more here.
Update on the Hatfill Case
The Hatfill legal saga continues. Lawyers for the plaintiff are now seeking dismissal of the contempt charges against former USA Today reporter Toni Locy, now a journalism prof at West Virginia University. Lawyers' fees would apparently go along with that, a result that Professor Locy says would "bankrupt" her. Read more here in a Legal Times blogpost.
Tasteless Tabloid Story On Suicide Earns PCC Reprimand
The Press Complaints Commission has told the Daily Sport that it crossed the line by publishing an article on the UK's "top 10 suicide hotspots." Choose Life, a government program engaged suicide prevention, had complained to the PCC that the article "had provided unnecessary detail which might encourage vulnerable people to visit the places shown and take their own lives." The PCC ultimately agreed. Read more here in a Guardian story by Jemima Kiss; read the PCC's ruling here.
Protecting the Copyright In Culture
Copyright law has long been reluctant to protect cultural genres and their components. This is normally justified through familiar principles, such as lack of originality, failure to prove infringement or the principle regarding non-protection of ideas. This article argues that none of these explanations provides a comprehensive answer to copyright's treatment of cultural genres. Relying on Genre theory, Network theory and Semiotic analysis the article offers a network perspective on the intersection of genres and copyright. It argues that genres have important communicative function and constitute necessary tools in human interaction. It proposes to call these communicative attributes "network value", and demonstrates that network value constitutes a substantive theoretical justification for limiting copyright in cultural genres and their components. It further argues that network value analysis has both explanatory and normative consequences. It explains the narrower copyright protection afforded to genres and their components, and sheds light on other related copyright puzzles. In addition, it can provide clearer guidelines in designing the scope of copyright law and its application to cultural works.
Part I briefly describes the limited protection afforded to cultural genres and the prevailing justifications under current law. Part II substantiates the theoretical basis of the network perspective, and its application to the intersection of copyright and cultural genres. Part III briefly explores several potential implications of the network analysis, focusing particularly on the Scenes-a-Faire doctrine and the issue of television formats. Some concluding remarks follow.
September 16, 2008
Jane Ginsburg On Orphan Works
This Comment, after a brief review of the nature of the orphan works problem and prior attempts to resolve it in the US, will analyze the current bills' provisions, both with respect to the limitation of remedies that constitutes the proposals' centerpiece, and to the conditions required to qualify for the limitation. I will also compare the US proposals with current European initiatives, and will assess the compatibility of the US proposals with international treaty norms, as well as the cross-border consequences of inconsistent US and EU orphan works regimes. I will conclude with some suggestions for amending the US proposals to enhance their international compatibility and to reconcile the interests of users more fully with those of the works' creators.
New Blog Tracking Congress
Say Yes To the Uniform?
Apparently Ofcom is less than pleased with BBC1 over its airing of the program Weekend Nazis, which documented a festival last year in which some attendees wore Nazi uniforms and later attended a wedding, wearing the same clothing. They later complained to the agency about the light in which they were portrayed. The BBC and the producer of the show, October Films, defended themselves, saying those who appeared had signed release forms and understood the context, but there is apparently some problem with the forms, and those who appeared in the documentary now say they misunderstood the point of the film. Read more here in a MediaGuardian story.