January 25, 2008
Judge Reinstates Defamation Lawsuit Against Professor
The judge who dismissed a defamation lawsuit against a University of California, Irvine professor has now reinstated the suit, based on new evidence presented to the court. One of the authors of a study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine objected to statements published by Dr. Bruce Flamm in the journal OB/GYN News. The court originally dismissed the suit under California's SLAPP statute in November 2007. Read more here and here in a previous post. See also here (Citizen Media Law Project listing).
January 24, 2008
"Dating Game" With Drew Peterson Not in the Cards For Radio Station
Radio station WJMK-FM won't sponsor a competition to find Drew Peterson a date. The former Bolingbroke, Illinois police officer, whose fourth wife Stacy disappeared last October, apparently suggested to the station that this "dating game" event would be a good idea. Station manager Peter Bowen and radio host Steve Dahl say they never seriously considered it, however. Read more here.
Afghan Journalist Sentenced To Death For Blasphemy
An Afghan court has sentenced a twenty-three year old journalist to death for blasphemy after a trial which was conducted in secret and at which he apparently was not represented by counsel. Sayed Parwez Kaambakhsh was accused by others of writing articles in which he claimed that the Prophet Muhammed did not respect women's rights. He denied having written the pieces. He has the right to appeal. An NGO, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), says the case against Mr. Kaambakhsh is "a fabrication." Read more here.
No Walkout At BBC
The BBC and its unions have signed a deal, averting a walkout. Read more here.
BBC, Popular Drama, Under Fire For Episode Showing Violent Attack on Character
A scene in the long-running BBC drama "Eastenders" has caused a ruckus, and several viewers have complained to Ofcom, the government agency charged with overseeing radio and television in the UK. The episode shows an attack on one of the main characters. The BBC itself received two hundred complaints. The network defended itself with this statement: "The BBC has a strict set of editorial guidelines which all programmes must adhere to, to ensure that the violence portrayed was suitable for pre-watershed viewing." Read more here.
The Media and Counter-Terrorism Laws: The View From Australia
Lawrence McNamara, University of Reading School of Law, has published "Australian Counter-Terrorism Laws and Limits on Media Freedom: Working Paper No. 1". Here is the abstract.
This paper is the first working paper in a project that aims to identify and evaluate the actual and potential effects that Australian counter-terrorism laws have on public discussion and access to information. The project explores limits on media freedom and their implications for the nature and quality of public debate on matters of public interest. It does so by analyzing how the laws affect the media's ability to investigate and report on matters of public interest, and exploring how democratic commitments to media freedom might best be balanced against contemporary demands of national security. This paper explains how the research has been conducted; identifies some of the main elements of the legal framework and the way that those elements may and sometimes have affected the media; and offers some tentative conclusions about the ways that the media have been affected some of which are not directly, causally attributable to the suite of counter-terrorism laws but which are important to understanding the contemporary relationship between media freedom and public discussion of matters of public interest where national security is concerned.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.
More on Australian Defamation Law From David Rolph
David Rolph, University of Sydney Faculty of Law, has published "Preparing for a Full-Scale Invasion? Truth, Privacy and Defamation" at 25 Communications Law Bulletin 5 (2007). Here is the abstract.
One feature of the national, uniform defamation laws, which came into force across Australia in 2006, was that truth alone became a defence to defamation. Prior to their introduction, the defence of justification in four Australian jurisdictions required not only proof of substantial truth but also satisfaction of an element of public interest or benefit. Following the reforms, there was public debate about whether the removal of the element of public interest or benefit from the defence of justification would have the effect of allowing the media to invade privacy with greater impunity than previously. This article examines the public debate on this issue. It argues that more invasive media practices cannot be attributed solely or substantially to the removal of the element of public interest or benefit from the defence of justification. It further contends that, given that reputation and privacy are conceptually distinct interests, it is inappropriate to use defamation law, which seeks to protect reputation, as an indirect means to protect privacy. The article then notes recent attempts in Australia to develop a direct form of privacy protection.
Download the entire article from SSRN here.
Australian Copyright Law and Infringement
Jason John Bosland, and Robin W. Wright, both of the University of Melbourne Centre for Media and Communications Law, have published "Australia: Copyright - Secondary Infringement by Authorization - Hyper-Linking," in volume 18 of the Entertainment Law Review (2007). Here is the abstract.
Comments on the Australian Full Federal Court judgment in Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v. Cooper on whether a website proprietor committed secondary copyright infringement by authorizing infringement, if the website contained hyper-links to copyright recorded music, which the website users downloaded without the copyright proprietor's consent. Discusses whether the website proprietor had the power to prevent copyright infringement. Considers whether the website was designed specifically to facilitate the unlawful downloading of music.
Download the article from SSRN here.
January 23, 2008
AT&T and Piracy
AT&T says it may begin checking out the traffic on P2P networks to see if copyright infringement is going on, and if so, if the company can do anything to counter it. Read more here. Here's an article by
MPAA Says Downloading Study Was Wrong; College Students Don't Pirate As Much as Previously Reported
In 2005, the Motion Picture Association of America reported that college students were pirating like mad, at a rate that accounted for forty-four percent of the "industry's domestic losses." Now, it seems that "human error" caused a miscalculation--those rogue downloaders only account for fifteen percent of the industry's losses. But some say that number's still too high, suggesting that three percent is more likely. Read more here.