Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain Campaign Objects To YouTube Policy of Taking Down "Infringing" Clips

The McCain campaign and YouTube are having a difference of opinion on how the popular video sharing site takes down clips alleged to have infringed on copyright. The campaign would like YouTube to hold off on pulling such clips until it has undertaken a "full legal review". YouTube's policy is to honor takedown requests filed under the DMCA. Read more here in a Guardian article. Here's a link to the letter sent by Senator McCain's counsel to YouTube.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Trial Begins In Case of Murdered Russian Journalist

Three men have gone on trial for the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was killed two years ago outside her Moscow apartment. But this week, the attorney who represents Ms. Politkovskaya's children reported finding high levels of mercury in her locked car, a fact she reported to the French police. Thus, she was unable to attend the beginning of the trial.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Outcoming Ofcom Chair Says Agency May Get More Power To Regulate Internet

The outcoming Chair of Ofcom says the agency is likely to get more powers over the Internet because of a perceived demand for more control over content. David Currie noted that the Internet is no longer a nascent medium, but also told listeners to his Annual Ofcom Lecture that rules applicable to traditional media would probably not simply be "imported" to the Internet. Read more here. Read the full text of his remarks here.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jury Selection Will Begin Soon In Spector Retrial

Here's an update on the progress of record producer Phil Spector's trial for the murder of Lara Clarkson. Jury selection will begin soon. Mr. Spector's earlier trial ended in a mistrial last year.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Former al-Jazeera Employee Loses Discrimination Case

Jo Burgin has lost her wrongful dismissal and discrimination case against al-Jazeera. A London-based tribunal that heard the case issued a unanimous ruling in favor of the network. Read more here.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Express Newspapers Issue Apologies To McCann Dining Companions

Yet another apology from the Express Newspapers over false statements printed to persons the Daily Express and Daily Star linked to the Madeline McCann disappearance. This time the papers issued apologies to seven dining companions of Kate and Gerry McCann, the so-called "tapas seven" who were with them the night the little girl vanished. The payment of 375000 pounds will go to the Find Madeline Fund. Read more here in a Guardian story.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Turkish Court Issues Order To Block Newspaper Website

Adnan Oktar, a Turkish writer who believes in creationism, has succeeded in getting an order to block the website of Vatan, one of Turkey's most popular newspapers, within the country. Mr. Oktar alleges and has gotten a court to agree, that the newspaper has insulted him. He has also been successful in blocking the website of Dr. Richard Dawkins, a leading scientist, thinker, and proponent of the theory of evolution. "Vatan" means "motherland" or "homeland" in Turkish.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Vietnamese Reporter Sentenced To Two Years in Prison for "Abusing Democratic Freedoms"

Vietnamese journalist Nguyen Viet Chien has been sentenced to two years in prison for "abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state". He had written articles about the actions of members of a government ministry who had used foreign aid money to finance betting operations. One of his colleagues was given a two-year suspended sentence. Read more here in a Financial Times article (registration may be required; free).

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Journalist Alleges Man Acquitted of Killing Another Reporter Is Harassing Her

The BBC reports that a man recently acquitted of murdering a TV anchor is now being investigated after a reporter for Sky News who interviewed him after his acquittal complained that he had subsequently harassed her. Journalist Kay Burley apparently has alleged that Barry George had visited her workplace after the interview. He denies wrongdoing. Read more here.

October 17, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Customers Sue DirecTV Over Early Cancellation, Change of Service Fees

Two California subscribers of DirecTV have filed suit in state court, alleging that the company hides fees and charges them without customer approval when subscribers terminate or change service. The company has responded that the information is in the form that subscribers sign when they first have the service installed. Read more here.

October 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

TipToe Through the Footwear: Nike Sues WalMart Over Nike Shox-Like Shoes

Nike is suing WalMart over WalMart's brand of footwear for patent infringement, saying that it's a "me-too" shoe based on its design. Read more here.

October 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

May Voters Tout Their Choices When Casting Their Ballots?

Here's FindLaw's Julie Hilden on Election Day buttons, stickers and other hoopla worn by voters at the polls.

October 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Italian Author of Book on Neopolitan Mafia Plans To Leave Country

An Italian author says he plans to leave the country in fear of his life. Roberto Saviano, whose book Gomorrah has been made into a film, says the subjects of the book, the Naples-based Mafia, the Camorra, are after him now, and although he's under 24/7 guard, he's not safe. Read more here in a BBC story. Here's more from the Scotsman.

October 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

British Official Says Government, Police Need More Information To Protect Public

The BBC reports that the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, believes that law enforcement needs the power to monitor or otherwise obtain information on suspects, including terrorists, and much of that information might be held by communications and internet companies. The reaction from the opposition and from civil rights groups has been swift and critical. They warn of massive databases compiled by the government that might infringe on the public's privacy and human rights. Ms. Smith tried to mollify the critics by saying, "There are no plans for an enormous database which will contain the content of your emails, the texts that you send or the chats you have on the phone or online. Nor are we going to give local authorities the power to trawl through such a database in the interest of investigating lower level criminality under the spurious cover of counter terrorist legislation." But the Shadow Home Secretary responded, "These proposals would mark a substantial shift in the powers of the state to obtain personal information on individuals....The government must present convincing justification for such an exponential increase in the powers of the state."

October 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

FCC May Vote On New Payment Fees, Intended to Assist With Broadband Access, Soon

The AP reports that FCC Chair Kevin Martin will propose a reworking of the payment scheme now in effect when telecommunications companies route phone calls to one another. Commissioner Martin would like to restructure the rates so that the calls follow a more systematic pattern, but that might mean that monthly customer charges go up. The entire scheme is intended to help fund broadband access. A vote on a new plan is set for November 4. Read more here.

October 16, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FCC Commissioner Says Some Consumers Still In the Dark With Regard to Digital Switchover; Broadcasters Need To Do More

One FCC Commissioner says the February 2009 transition to digital will be "messy", according to an MSNBC.com story. Robert McDowell recommends that broadcasters do more to educate consumers about the upcoming move from analog to digital that will leave "rabbit-ear" television sets unusable as is.

October 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Zach and Miri Make a Movie About Something I Probably Shouldn't Mention In This Headline

Director Kevin Smith is having trouble advertising his latest flick. The film, which the Weinstein Company is releasing, stars Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Betty Aberlin and Jeff Anderson, and is titled "Zach and Miri Make a Porno" but its full title is getting stares--and objections--from people who don't want it advertised on bus shelters, in commercials, and generally in other public places where they have to see it or explain it to the young. So a new poster for the movie claims "Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous that we can't even tell you the title." All righty then.

October 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Water Ad Not So Innocent

The Advertising Standards Authority has told a bottled water marketer that its advertising campaign is misleading after its ad for This Water failed to disclose that one of the ingredients in the flavored beverage is added sugar. Said the ASA in part,

The ASA noted This Water's argument that the ads highlighted the fact that fruit and water were the key ingredients in the drinks, not the only ingredients. We acknowledged that the full list of ingredients was available on the products' labels and on This Water's website, and we also noted the documents about sugar that they had provided. Nevertheless, we considered that the use of the term "simple", alongside the text "water from a spring" and "fruit from the trees" linked by arrows to the picture of the product, implied that the drink was simple because it contained water and fruit only.

We understood that the type of sugar that had been added to the drinks was refined, white, granulated sugar. We noted from the recipe breakdown submitted by This Water that added sugar constituted 8% of the Lemons and Limes drink and 10% of the Mangoes and Passion Fruit drink and Pomegranates, Lychees and Blackcurrants drink. We understood therefore that the standard 420 ml bottle of the product contained between 33.6 g and 42 g of added sugar, depending on the flavour of the drink. We considered that most consumers would not expect such a product, when described as "simple, natural", to contain added refined sugars. Because of that, and because we considered that the ads implied that the drinks contained fruit and water only, we concluded that the ads were misleading.

The ads breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness).

Action
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We advised This Water to contact the CAP Copy Advice team for guidance when preparing future similar ads.

Read more here.

October 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

ASA Rules That Two Candy Companies Cross the Line With Recent Ads

Two candy companies have gotten into trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority over their ads for popular treats. Both the Mars and McVitie Companies cannot claim that two of their products are either low cal or low fat. For the Mars company, the problem arose with an ad for its chocolate confection Maltesers.

The ASA noted the Regulation defined a nutrition claim as including any claim which stated, suggested or implied that a food had particular beneficial nutritional properties because of the energy (calorific value) it provided at a reduced rate.  Nutrition claims were permitted only if they were listed in the Annex and conformed to the conditions set out for them in the Regulation.  One of the nutrition claims listed in the Annex was 'low energy'.  One of the conditions set out in the Regulation was that low energy claims should not be made for products with more than 40 kcal (170 kJ)/100 g for solids.

We considered the claim "less than 11 calories each", particularly in an ad that emphasised Maltesers not being as "naughty" as one woman had supposed, was likely to suggest to viewers that a Malteser was low in calories; we therefore considered it was a 'low energy' claim.  We understood that, because Maltesers contained 505 calories per 100 g, a 'low energy' claim should not have been made.

We took legal advice and understood that the transitional provisions of the Regulation did not apply, because the claim "less than 11 calories each" did fall within the Annex.  The Annex gave definitions of claims, not specific examples of them, and we considered that the claim "less than 11 calories each" fell under the 'low energy' definition.  Furthermore, we noted the specific claim "less than 11 calories each" had been in use by Mars only since February 2008.  We considered it was not the intention of the transitional provisions to allow a claim that would otherwise be in breach of the Regulation to continue to be advertised merely because at least one marketer had previously made a similar claim.

We concluded that the words "less than" gave the misleading impression that a Malteser was low in energy.

On this point, the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 1.1 (Complying with the law), 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.2 (Implications) and 8.3.1a (Accuracy in food advertising).

2. Not upheld
We noted Mars' argument that the strapline "THE LIGHTER WAY TO ENJOY CHOCOLATE" was a trade mark that had been in use since before January 2005 and therefore its use in advertising could not currently be in breach of the Regulation.

We considered that many consumers would be familiar with the claim "THE LIGHTER WAY TO ENJOY CHOCOLATE" as a strapline to ads for Maltesers.  We noted the strapline had existed for 25 years and had been used extensively in advertising in a way that associated it with the concept of floating in the air.  We also noted the ad under investigation showed Maltesers floating in the air at the same time as the on-screen text "THE LIGHTER WAY TO ENJOY CHOCOLATE" was visible.

We considered the claim "THE LIGHTER WAY TO ENJOY CHOCOLATE" was unlikely to be seen as a nutrition or energy comparison with other chocolates or as suggesting that Maltesers had beneficial nutritional properties.  We concluded that viewers were likely to interpret the claim, in the context of the ad, as referring to the weight, size and texture of a Malteser and were unlikely to see it as referring to the low energy content of Maltesers compared to other similar products.  We made no finding on the application of the transitional provision to the strapline.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 1.1 (Complying with the law), 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.2 (Implications), 5.4.6 (Comparative advertising) and 8.3.1a (Accuracy in food advertising) but did not find it in breach.

For McVitie's the problem arose with an ad for its product Jaffa Cakes.

The ASA noted the Regulation defined a nutrition claim as including any claim which stated, suggested or implied that a food had particular beneficial nutritional properties because of the nutrients or other substances it contained in reduced proportions.  We considered the claim "only one gram of fat" met that definition and was therefore a nutrition claim.

We considered the ads message was that the amount of fat in a Jaffa Cake was much less than expected.  Particularly in light of that context, we considered the claim "only one gram of fat" was likely to suggest to viewers that a Jaffa Cake was low in fat: it was therefore a 'low fat' claim.

We noted the Regulation stated that nutrition claims listed in the Annex were permitted only if they conformed to the conditions set out for them in the Regulation.  One of the nutrition claims listed in the Annex was 'low fat' and the FSAs Guidance stated that if information was presented in a way that implied it was beneficial to consumers, such as "contains only 10 g of fat", it would need to comply with the Regulation; we considered that example was very similar to the one made in the ad.  We did not accept McVities argument that the transitional provision applied, because the claim was of a type (low fat) listed in the Annex.  One of the conditions set out in the Regulation was that low fat claims should not be made for products with more than 3 g of fat per 100 g for solids.

We noted Jaffa Cakes contained 8 g of fat per 100 g for solids.

We concluded that the claim "only one gram of fat" misleadingly suggested that Jaffa Cakes were low in fat.

On this point, the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 1.1 (Complying with the law), 5.1 (Misleading advertising), 5.2.2 (Implications) and 8.3.1a (Accuracy in food advertising).

Action
The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

October 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Website That Provided Pirated Textbooks Closes Up Shop

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the renegade site Textbook Torrents is shutting down permanently. Its owner, "Geekman", had set up shop as a way to circumvent the high cost of textbooks. But now he says possible legal action has dissuaded him from keeping the site up. He says in part,

Textbook Torrents is now permanently offline.

There are a number of reasons for this, but I would be lying if I claimed that the concern of legal action wasn't a major factor in the decision. However, it was by no means the only reason. Upkeep of a site this size is a lot of work, increasingly so as time progressed. What's more, two years is a long time to be running a site of this nature.

October 15, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)