April 11, 2009
VA Objects To Veteran Interview; Demands Reporter's Equipment
An American University college radio station student ended up giving his sound card to a Veterans Administration public affairs officer who objected to his interview of an attendee at VA Town Hall meeting. Things deteriorated from there. Nevertheless, Mr. Schultz is getting his sound card back. Read more here. Here is a link to a letter that the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent to Erik Shinseki, Secretary for Veterans' Affairs and Fernando O. Rivera, director of the medical center at which the incident took place.
Is It a Live Photographer, Or Is It a Taped Zombie?
A second TMZ photographer has filed a complaint over an altercation with actor Woody Harrelson, this time out of an event at La Guardia Airport. Mr. Harrelson and his daughter were returning from filming of the actor's new movie Zombieland. Mr. Harrelson says he was still feeling his character and thought the photographer was a zombie. Here's a link to more from TMZ.
April 10, 2009
Kanye West and "South Park"
Rapper Kanye West told the AP that the satiric show South Park had enough of an effect on him to cause a reality check. Something about not always telling people how dope he is. Read more here, and check out his blogpost on the subject, where he expresses his new resolutions.
Appellate Court Reverses Trial Court; Suggests Test For Identification of Anonymous Posters In Defamation Action
In Independent Newspapers v. Brodie, the appellate court ruled that the trial judge abused his discretion when he ordered the defendants to identify anonymous posters in an Internet forum pursuant to a defamation action.
The Court reviewed the record and determined that Brodie had not identified the appropriate forum participants in his complaint. Because Brodie failed to assert his defamation action against the correct individuals, the Court reversed the trial judge’s order compelling the discovery of the forum participants’ identities.
The court also suggested the following test for trial courts to apply when confronted in future with a plaintiff's request to identify anonymous posters.
For guidance of the trial courts when future cases arise, the Court suggested a process to balance First Amendment rights with the right to seek protection for defamation, citing with approval the test from Dendrite Int’l, Inc. v. John Doe No. 3, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 2001). Thus, when a trial court is confronted with a defamation action in which anonymous speakers or pseudonyms are involved, it should, (1) require the plaintiff to undertake efforts to notify the anonymous posters that they are the subject of a subpoena or application for an order of disclosure, including posting a message of notification of the identity discovery request on the message board; (2) withhold action to afford the anonymous posters a reasonable opportunity to file and serve opposition to the application; (3) require the plaintiff to identify and set forth the exact statements purportedly made by each anonymous poster, alleged to constitute actionable speech; (4) determine whether the complaint has set forth a prima facie defamation per se or per quod action against the anonymous posters; and (5), if all else is satisfied, balance the anonymous poster’s First Amendment right of free speech against the strength of the prima facie case of defamation presented by the plaintiff and the necessity for disclosure of the anonymous defendant’s identity, prior to ordering disclosure.
April 9, 2009
Iraqi Journalist's Sentence Reduced To One Year
An appellate court has reduced Muntadhar al-Zeidi's sentence from three years to one year, citing his prior lack of a criminal record. Mr. al-Zeidi was convicted last month of throwing his shoes at former President George W. Bush. Read more here in a CBS news report.
London Police Offer Apology To Press Over G20 Restrictions
London's police have issued an apology to media photographers who had difficulty covering the G20 summit last week. Some photographers say some officers used section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 to prevent them from taking pictures of police altercations with demonstrators outside the G20 meeting. Read more here.
Ofcom May Investigate Propriety of BBC Host's Remarks To Winning Grand National Jockey
Ofcom may investigate a BBC host's comment about a jockey's teeth after both it and the BBC received numerous viewer complaints that the remark was offensive. Host Claire Balding urged jockey Liam Treadwell, who had just won the Grand National, to open his mouth so viewers could see his "gappy teeth." She then remarked that he could afford to get them fixed if he wanted. The BBC later apologized for Ms. Balding's comments. Read more here.
Adult Content Loose In Cyberspace
In a recent column, FindLaw's Eric Sinrod discusses access to adult content in cyberspace.
French Assembly Just Says "Non" To Internet Piracy Bill
The French National Assembly has rejected an Internet piracy bill that would have allowed ISPs to turn off service to users who download material illegally. Many legislators failed to turn up for the vote, which turned out to be 21-15. The government says it will try again. Read more here.
April 8, 2009
Kicking Google Maps to the Curb
FindLaw's Anita Ramasastry discusses the recent debate over whether Google Maps should be allowed to continue its mapping of local neighborhoods--it's been disinvited in parts of the UK, where some citizens find its activities intrusive and where it may be violating the law.
More On Sexting
Texting Teen Costs Parents Big Bucks, Earns A Lot of Failing Grades
These Wyoming parents thought they had disabled the texting capability on that cell phone they gave their thirteen year old. Think again. They got a four figure bill when she racked up 10,000 text messages in a month. Oh, and they got a landline call from her school principal when she failed five classes. Yikes.
The Devil Is In the Details
The Chronicle of Higher Education has this story about an embarrassing typo in Brigham Young University's student newspaper.
The Ward Churchill Verdict
Ward Churchill, the controversial University of Colorado prof who sued after he lost his tenured position at the University of Colorado, won his lawsuit and a $1 damages award from the jury. Why the $1 award? One juror explained that the amount was a compromise between a lone holdout and the rest of the panel. Here's more analysis of the suit, the verdict, and, at the end of the day, what the entire argument means for academic speech and tenure from CBS' Andrew Cohen, Florida International (and NY Times blogger) Stanley Fish, and the L. A. Times.
House of Lords Committee Suggests BBC Fees Should Support Rival Network Programming
A House of Lords committee studying the BBC license fee says part of it should be diverted to help support regional broadcasters that provide arts and news programming. The committee also noted the dangers of the BBC's possible cultural dominance of the airwaves. Read more here.
Former NPR Journalist Charged With Espionage
NPR reports that journalist Roxana Saberi, who has been detained for some time in Iran, is being charged with espionage. Her visa ran out in 2006 but she stayed in the country doing some reporting and gathering material for a book. U.S. government officials are trying to intervene in her case, according to the NPR story.
April 7, 2009
AP Wants More Control Over Its Content
The Associated Press is taking aim at news aggregators, blogs, and other media that use its content without paying, says a New York Times article. I won't quote from it.
Max Mosley Files Lawsuit Against News of the World For Defamation
Max Mosley has filed another lawsuit, this time a defamation suit against the tabloid News of the World. He won an invasion of privacy suit last year against the same paper for its coverage of his sex life. (Here's a link to the ruling). He is currently also pursuing that case before the European Court of Human Rights.
Ofcom Hits BBC With 150,000 Pound Fine Over Sachsgate
The Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross "Sachsgate" mess continued with a 150,000 pound fine for the BBC. Ofcom ruled that Mr. Brand and Mr. Ross left "gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning" messages on Mr. Sachs' answering machine and that the network is responsible. Ofcom noted that
This list of weaknesses is all the more extraordinary considering that the senior management of BBC Radio always regarded Russell Brand as a ‘high risk’ series, and considering the assurances given to Ofcom that the compliance systems of BBC Radio would be improved after an earlier and very serious breach of the Code by The Russell Brand Show on BBC 6 Music in the summer of 2008. At that time the BBC gave Ofcom clear assurances about improvements made, or to be made, in the quality of its compliance generally and in BBC Radio in particular. The evidence in this case clearly showed that the necessary improvements were not implemented quickly or effectively. The risk for the BBC of breaching the Code was increased by the highly unsatisfactory compliance arrangements approved by the management of Radio 2 in May 2008 whereby Russell Brand should no longer be made in house but by an independent production company partly owned by Russell Brand. The Committee was deeply concerned by the failure or ineffectiveness of the BBC’s compliance, risk management and management procedures described above in relation to Radio 2 and the impact this had had in this case.
Read the full adjudication here.
Jade Goody's Family Threatens Paper With Lawsuit Over Funeral Photos
The late Jade Goody's family is threatening The People with a lawsuit after the tabloid published photographs of the reality celeb's funeral. Other papers did not, acceding to the family's request for privacy.