Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Florida Governor: Praise For Anti-Semitic Film Is "Mistake"

Florida Governor Charlie Crist's office now says the Governor actually didn't mean it when he told John Ubele in a letter that he would share the DVD Mr. Uberle had sent with "the people of Florida".  The DVD in question? "Jud Suess" (which translates as "The Jew Suess").  The letter was sent out as an automatic thank-you, the signature was automated, and the Governor never saw the missive. The film, whose anti-Semitism was and is well-known, was released in 1940 and was made as anti-Jewish propaganda. For more about the film, see Susan Tegel, Nazis and the Cinema (London: Continuum Books, 2007).

July 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Who Profits From the Google Book Settlement?

Pamela Samuelson, UC Berkeley School of Law, has published "Legally Speaking: The Dead Souls of the Google Booksearch Settlement," in volume 52 of Communications of the ACM (July 2009). Here is the abstract.
This short article argues that the proposed settlement of the Authors Guild v. Google lawsuit is a privately negotiated compulsory license primarily designed to monetize millions of orphan works. It will benefit Google and certain authors and publishers, but it is questionable whether the authors of most books in the corpus (the “dead souls” to which the title refers) would agree that the settling authors and publishers will truly represent their interests when setting terms for access to the Book Search corpus.
Download the article from SSRN here.

July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Alabama Bans Wine Because of Label

The state of Alabama's Alcohol Beverage Control Board has notified grocery stores, bars and restaurants that they must immediately cease selling or serving the Cycles Gladiator wine, which is produced by the Hahn Family Winery in Soledad, California. Why, you ask? It's on the label. The Cycles Gladiator label features a reproduction of an 1895 advertising poster of an unclothed nymph, and according to the beverage code of Alabama, "No advertisement may include any illustration(s) of any person(s) consuming alcoholic beverages or any person(s) posed in an immodest or sensuous manner, nor shall any advertising contain profanity or offensive language." Read more here in an article from the Mobile Press-Register. Read more about the original artwork, what it represents, and why the Hahns selected it for their label here.

July 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Town Fires City Manager Because of Marriage To Adult Film Actress reports that the Fort Myers Beach town council has fired Scott Janke as town manager, giving as its reason Mr. Janke's recent marriage to adult film actress Anabela Mota, who uses the name Jazella Moore for screen work. The council apparently is worried that Mr. Janke's marriage to Ms. Mota would be "distracting." Fort Myers Beach mayor Larry Kiker acknowledged that Mr. Janke had done a good job in his position, but member of the council Tom Babcock told residents that Mr. Janke's marriage gave a bad impression of the town. "When you become a public figure you are held to a different level of scrutiny and ethics," Mr. Babcock is quoted as saying.

July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ASA Turns Down Spicy Sausage Ads

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has told Mattesons and its ad agency Quiet Storm that its "saucy sausages" were a no go, at least when children are listening. The commercials, which feature a man asking women where they would "like to stick" their sausages, are unsuitable for the hours when children are watching television. The company said its ads were "tongue in cheek," and unlikely to be misunderstood by children "because the innuendo was not explicit", but the watchdog agency rejected that defense.

We considered that young children would be unlikely to understand the innuendo in the ads.  However, although it was not sexually explicit, the innuendo was sufficiently strong to present a problem if it was heard by older children.  We concluded that the ads could cause harm to children and, because they had not been scheduled away from times when children might be listening, had not been appropriately scheduled.  

On this point, the ads breached CAP (Broadcast) Radio Advertising Standards Code section 2 rules 8 (Scheduling) and 11 (Children and younger listeners).

July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jury Returns Verdict For Tom Bower in Defamation Case

The jury in the Richard Desmond/Tom Bower defamation case has found in favor of writer Tom Bower. Mr. Bower said he was "delighted" with the majority verdict. The Guardian estimates the total legal bill at over one million pounds.

July 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Call For Stories

From Nancy Levit, Professor of Law, UMKC

UMKC Law Review   One-L Revisited”  Law Stories Contest


Introduction by Scott Turow


With stories by:


Ian Ayres

Pamela Bridgewater

Alafair Burke

Stephen Carter

Andrew McClurg

Marc Poirier

Deborah Post

Lisa Pruitt

Saira Rao

Jeffrey Rosen

Cameron Stracher

Robert R.M. Verchick

Adrien Wing


The UMKC Law Review devotes part of one issue each year to a collection of “Law Stories” – short tales about various aspects of the legal world.   For the next edition, the theme will be One-L Revisited.  An introduction by Scott Turow, author of the classic account of the One-L experience, will lead off this collection of true stories about being a new law student.


We invite current law students and recent graduates (2006 or later) to submit stories.  Winning submission(s) will be published in the Spring 2010 issue of the UMKC Law Review, and the first place winner will receive a $500 prize.



· Non-fiction stories about the first year experience

· 1,000 - 5,000 words, including footnotes

· Footnotes are discouraged—we are looking for stories, not conventional law review articles or notes

· Open to current law student s and recently graduated law students (2006 or after)

· Send to with “Law Stories Submission” in subject line

· MS Word or PDF formats only

· Submission deadline October 23, 2009


UMKC School of Law

5100 Rockhill Road, Law 1-200

Kansas City, MO 64110


Lynn Herdon, Editor-In-Chief

July 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Allows Dan Rather To Refile Suit Against CBS

Dan Rather's lawsuit against CBS is back on. The longtime CBS anchor originally sued for breach of contract over his removal two years ago. Judge Ira Gammerman dismissed the suit citing technicalities, but is now allowing Mr. Rather to go ahead with his proceeding against CBS brass. Here's more from Reuters.

July 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Parody in Australian IP Law

Nic Suzor, QUT School of Law, has published "Where the Bloody Hell Does Parody Fit in Australian Copyright Law?" at 13 Media & Arts Law Review 218 (2008). Here is the abstract.

This article examines the role of the recently introduced fair dealing exception for the purposes of parody and satire in Australian copyright law. Parody and satire, while central to Australian expression, pose a substantial challenge for copyright policy. The law is asked to strike a delicate balance between an author’s right to exploit their work, the interests of the public in stimulating free speech and critical discussion, the rights of artists who rely on existing material in creating their own expression, and the rights of all artists in their reputation and the integrity of their works. This article highlights the difficulty parodists and satirists have historically faced in Australia and examines the potential of the new fair dealing exceptions to relieve this difficulty. This article concludes that the new exceptions have the potential, if read broadly, not only to bridge the gap between humorous and non-humorous criticism, but also to allow for the use of copyright material to critique figures other than the copyright owner or author, extending to society generally. This article will argue that the new exceptions should be read broadly to further this important policy goal while also being limited in their application so as to prevent mere substitutable uses of copyright material. To achieve these twin goals, I suggest that the primary indication of fairness of an unlicensed parody should be whether or not it adds significant new expression so as not to be substitutable for the original work.

Download the article from SSRN here.



July 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Fulbright Program Now Taking Applications

From March to August 1, 2009, U.S.faculty and professionals are invited to apply for *Fulbright scholar grants at For monthly updates, write us at for a complimentary subscription to The Fulbright Scholar News, an electronic newsletter.


*The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 286,000 participants from over 155 countries with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. For more information, visit

July 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


Some wannabe Steven Spielbergs in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are getting a crash course in film and the law. Specifically, they are learning the importance of letting local law enforcement know that they are making a film within the city limits and getting a permit for said filming. The student filmmakers engaged in what the attorney for one of them attorney describes as a parody of beach films were arrested by the local cops for "participation in or preparation of obscene material." The dean of the film school at the University of North Carolina, where the students are enrolled, called this interruption in filming "poor judgment." Read more here in a Chronicle of Higher Education article.

July 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

What's Doing on "Big Brother"?

NPR's Monkey See blog brings us an account of a behind the scenes rant delivered by a participant on CBS' reality show Big Brother, Braden Bacha. CBS excised Mr. Bacha's comments from the broadcast version of the show, and Mr. Bacha was eventually sent home by the other members of Big Brother, so no one who watches only the show as aired would know about the slurs he directed at others participating in the program. But as Monkey See's Linda Holmes points out, CBS has preserved Mr. Bacha's comments for the web. So, what's the point? To heighten tension on the show? To create two versions? To make us question "reality"? Says Ms. Holmes,

This show is meant to get a good part of its attention from the difference between what you see online and what you see on the show. If it manages to cast a hard-charging racist whose work only appears online, it can seize all the attention of a scandal while claiming that it's tastefully trying to protect viewers from anything "offensive." It is a use of racism as a big tease -- conceal, reveal, play with what people think they know and exploit the eagerness of devoted fans to show off how much more plugged-in they are than everyone else.




July 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Rules For Google In English Defamation Suit

In what court watchers have called a significant win for libel defendants, a British judge has found for Google in a defamation case. Metropolitan International Schools had sued Google over search engine results which turned up comments that Metropolitan did not like. Mr. Justice Eady, ruling for Google, wrote that the company was a "facilitator" and not the writer or the publisher of the comments, concluding "[T]here are two reasons which in my judgment justify setting aside the Master's order. First, I do not consider that on the evidence before me the Third Defendant can be regarded as a publisher of the words complained of, whether before or after notification. Accordingly, on the evidence before me, I can conclude that the Claimant would have "no reasonable prospect of success". Secondly, I regard the misrepresentations and omissions, as to the nature of the cause of action relied upon, as sufficiently serious to justify setting aside the Master's order in any event." Here's more from the Guardian. Here's a link to the text of the ruling.

  • July 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Public Employment Free Speech Rights

    Joseph Oluwole has published "On the Road to Garcetti: 'Unpick'ering Pickering and Its Progeny," in volume 36 of the Capital University Law Review (2008). Here is the abstract. 
    This article examines the foundational cases dealing with public employment free-speech rights and the evolution of the United States Supreme Court's public employment free-speech jurisprudence. In each case since Pickering v. Board of Education - the seminal case on public employment-free speech jurisprudence - the Court has attempted to navigate and clarify the nuances of the Pickering balancing test - the balancing of the employee's free speech rights against the public employer's interests in operational efficiency. This article reveals through comprehensive examination of these cases that the Court in its interpretation of the Pickering balancing test established to protect employees, has steadily taken away sub silentio the protection of public employees' free speech rights to the pro-employer era that reigned mostly pre-Pickering.
    Download the article from SSRN here.

    July 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    The Criminal Aspects of Uploading and Non-Criminal Aspects of Downloading Documents

    Alicia Gil Gil and Carlos Martin Fernandez have published "About the Criminality of the Conduct of Uploading a Copyrighted Work with Commercial Intent and the Not Criminal Character of its Downloading Despite its Illegality," in volume 2 of InDret (2009). Here is the abstract. 


    This paper seeks to clarify the legal treatment of the conduct of uploading and downloading, distinguishing those that are allowed, those that are a civilly wrong and those that are criminal. In order to do so we will distinguish between torts against the Intellectual Property Law and crimes against intellectual property, with emphasis on the analysis of the elements of the crime: “animus lucrandi” and “causing a loss”, as they have been interpreted in doctrine, by the courts and in this proposed solution. Finally we propose to establish a means of control for the owners of P2P servers and administrative sanctions for the violation of these means. To achieve that we suggest a system to filter the protected contents based on the hash of the file.


    Download the article from SSRN here. N.B. The article is in Spanish.

    July 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Egyptian Poet's Conviction For Defamation of President Overturned

    The Arabic Network For Human Rights Information reports that the conviction of Mounir Saeed Hanna for defaming President Housni Mubarak has been reversed. ANHRI attorneys appealed the conviction of the poet, who was convicted of defaming the President, when members of the Egyptian security forces obtained copies of his work.

    July 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    The Cornversation Continues

    Dotan Oliar and Christopher Jon Sprigman, University of Virginia School of Law, have published "From Corn to Norms: How IP Entitlements Affect What Stand-Up Comedians Create," in volume 95 of Virginia Law Review In Brief (no. 57)(2009). Here is the abstract.

    In There’s No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy, 94 Virginia L. Rev. 1787 (2008), we explored how, why, and what stand-up comedians have created at different points in the history of stand-up comedy. From this study, we offered insights into how intellectual property (“IP”) law affects human motivation to create, how legal and non-legal motivations interact, and how the emergence of IP entitlements (in comedians’ case, norm-based entitlements) may change creative practices. We offered a static analysis of how stand-up comedians use social norms as a substitute for formal IP law in order to protect their jokes and comedic routines, and a dynamic analysis of how these norms came into being over the last half century.

    In this short piece for the Virginia Law Review's In Brief, we reply to a group of thoughtful responses to our article by Professors Michael Madison, Jennifer Rothman, Henry Smith, and Katherine Strandburg.

    Download the essay here.


    See also There's No Free Laugh Anymore (Olier and Sprigman); Custom, Comedy, and the Value of Dissent (Rothman); and Of Coase and Comedy, Or the Comedy of Copyright (Madison).

    July 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Regulating Search Engines

    Viva Moffat, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, has published "Regulating Search," in volume 22 of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology (2009). Here is the abstract. 

    With the digital revolution and the internet age have come not just material and resources unimaginable fifty years ago, but also an overwhelming onslaught of information. Search engines have become the crucial intermediary in this online world, ameliorating the “information overload” and serving as the gatekeepers of the Internet. Academic commentators have recognized the significance of the issues posed by search engines’ role as a crucial intermediary, but the conversation about the appropriate structures for regulating search is still in its early stages. Thus far, the debate is a bipolar one: market regulation versus agency regulation.

    In this paper, I seek to break out of this polarized debate, and I suggest an alternative regulatory approach. Between the patchwork of the current legal approach and the prospect of agency regulation, there is an alternative. I propose that a purely federal approach (involving the development of federal common law in the interstices of the existing statutory structures) is more likely to allow for a coherent and comprehensive assessment of search engine disputes without incurring the costs of more centralized regulation. Drawing on some of the early literature on the regulation of cyberspace, I propose this approach for its incremental and flexible nature. The incrementalism of the common law allows for greater adaptability to changing technology. In addition, a common law approach may ultimately provide some predictability without locking-in technology or standards or otherwise inhibiting innovation.

    Download the article from SSRN here.

    July 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    The Cost of Those Scholarly Journals

    The Chronicle of Higher Education's Jennifer Howard reports on the costs of publishing humanities and social sciences journals. They cost more than three times as much to publish as do science journals, according to a new study.

    July 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

    Those Washington Post Dinners--Again

    The Guardian's Emily Bell discusses the Washington Post's attempt to launch intimate little dinners.

    July 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)