Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Is Writers' Strike Over?

The AP reports that the WGA and the AMPTP may have reached an agreement, and that the long (nearly 90 days and counting) writers' strike may be over. Read more about a tentative solution to the impasse here. But now that some viewers have wandered off to find other amusement, will the script now read "Desperately seeking audiences"? Or did many people even notice the dearth of the scripted?

February 2, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Spy Who Came Back To the Cold

Here's an interesting piece about a former Soviet intelligence officer who is promoting a book about his experiences as an operative in the U.S. and Canada. Pete Earley wrote Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War about Sergei Tretyakov's work in the U.S. and Canada. But the publisher, G. P. Putnam's Sons, says it will not longer sell the book in Canada, because of "legal issues." Some former Canadian officials object to statements in the book, saying they are unreliable. Said one, "I think it should be put in the fiction or fantasy section of book stores." Read more in this Globe and Mail story.

February 1, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

TiVo Wins Appeal Against EchoStar

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a lower court ruling holding that EchoStar infringed TiVo's software patents and ordering the company to pay more than seventy million dollars in damages. But it reversed the lower court's decision that Echostar infringed hardware patents. EchoStar immediately said it would ask for a rehearing. Read the ruling here. Read more about reaction to the ruling here.

February 1, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Conrad Black Must Report to Jail While Appeal Moves Forward

Former media mogul Conrad Black cannot remain out on bail while his appeal goes forward, Judge Amy St. Eve has ruled. The judge said that while she agrees that Lord Black doesn't pose a flight risk, his appeal does not raise any new issues of law or fact that would result in success on appeal. She also told Lord Black to make a substantial repayment in accordance with the verdict, but it will come out of the proceeds seized in 2005. Read more in a Globe and Mail article here.

February 1, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NBC, Dick Wolf In Lawsuit Over Meaning of 2004 Agreement

The WGA strike may have caused some additional fallout. Dick Wolf and NBC Universal are going to court over a 2004 agreement, which is now causing disagreement. Mr. Wolf claims that the pact provides him with a "kill fee", 2 years' worth of pay for a "Law & Order" series if it is cancelled. NBC, however, says it's a "pay or play" contract, requiring a particular commitment from the network (a one or two year pickup on a series). NBC is not seeking damages, but wants an interpretation from the court. Read more here or here.

January 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

California Supreme Court: Single Publication Rule Applies To Publications Not Widely Distributed

In Hebrew Academy v. Goldman (Ct.App. 1/2 A106618, filed 12/24/07), the California Supreme Court holds that the single publication rule applies both to publications that are widely and are not widely distributed, extending its holding in Shively v. Bozanich, 31 Cal. 4th 1230 (2003).

We recognized in Shively that the single-publication rule also indirectly addresses the second concern that would be raised by applying to publications the general rule that a new cause of action for defamation arises upon each republication—that the statute of limitations would begin to run anew upon each republication—by observing that “[u]nder the single-publication rule, with respect to the statute of limitations, publication generally is said to occur on the ‘first general distribution of the publication to the public.’ [Citations.]”... The single-publication rule as described in our opinion in Shively and as codified in Civil Code section 3425.3 applies without limitation to all publications. Civil Code section 3425.3 applies to tort claims “founded upon any single publication or exhibition or utterance, such as any one issue of a newspaper or book or magazine . . . .” Thus, the single-publication rule applies in the present case, even though the transcript of the oral history at issue was published with only limited circulation."directly prevents a multiplicity of suits by declaring that there can be only one cause of action for defamation based upon a single publication, and indirectly limits the extension of the statute of limitations through the judicial interpretation that this single cause of action accrues upon the first general distribution of the work to the public.

With regard to the tolling of the statute, the Court held that "[P]ublication is generally said to occur on the `first general distribution of the publication to the public.'"

In this case, the defamatory statements were not "hidden" from the public, although there were not a large number of copies available.

The transcript at issue here was not published in an inherently secretive manner as was the letter in Manguso; although not widely distributed, the transcript was available to the public. Rabbi Lipner became aware of the transcript when a colleague discovered it while conducting research for a book about him....In the present case, as noted above, the parties agree that plaintiffs’ cause of action for defamation accrued under the single-publication rule no later than 1993, when the Goldman interview was published. And, as explained above, the discovery rule does not delay the accrual of the cause of action, even though the interview received only limited circulation.

Read the entire opinion here.

January 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Turkish Academic Sentenced To Fifteen Months For "Insulting Turkishness"

In what is one of a number of similar proceedings in which academics and other intellectuals have been charged under Turkish Penal Code article 301 with "insulting Turkishness," Professor Atilla Yayla has been sentenced to fifteen months in prison for that crime, for suggesting that the country's secular founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was not as progressive as he has been portrayed in official writings. Prosecutors had asked for a maximum of five years. The court suspended the sentence. Professor Yayla's attorneys will appeal. Defendants in such proceedings and their supports charge that these cases are attempts by the government to stifle freedom of speech and thought. Read more here in a BBC report.

January 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sky Told To Sell Most of Its Holding in ITV

The UK government has ordered Sky (BSkyB), which owns nearly 18 percent of ITV, to sell most of its holdings in the network, but rumors are that Rupert Murdoch may fight the government's ruling, which came after complaints by ITV and Virgin Media to the Competition Commission. ITV's share price has dipped since Sky became a shareholder late in 2006. Read more here.

January 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ofcom: Satiric Show Not in Breach of Broadcasting Code Over Reference To Madeleine McCann

Ofcom has okayed a Channel 4 satire that poked fun at British politicians, saying the point was the lengths to which they might go to win an election, not the unsolved disappearance of four-year-old Madeleine McCann. The sketch, which aired on the long-running Bremner, Bird, and Fortune television show, shocked some viewers.

January 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Music Downloads With No Copy Protection? Not Quite Yet

In spite of an announcement from Qtrax saying that it has clinched agreements with three major labels to do so, Warner, EMI, and Universal say they have no plans to allow the company to permit users to download their music for free through its service. Meanwhile, Amazon.com is proceeding with its digital music store, which lets customers download music without worrying about copy protection. Read more here and here. Meanwhile, music sales continue to fall, a result, says the industry, of continuing piracy.

January 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)