Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
A federal judge has granted the plaintiffs' request for partial summary judgment in the case of Scott Wolfe Jr. / Public Citizen v. Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board. The plaintiffs alleged that the new Louisiana rules on lawyer advertising restricted or otherwise violated attorney freedom of speech because they require lawyers to get permission to publish ads or blog posts.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Brandeis professor Jytte Klausen's forthcoming book on the 12 Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that caused a worldwide debate will contain a scholarly discussion of the debate. But it will not contain reproductions of the cartoons. Based on the publisher's discussions with 24 experts on terrorism and Islam, Yale University Press decided reprinting the cartoons and other depictions of Mohammed was just too dangerous.
According to the New York Times, Professor Klausen, "reluctantly accepted Yale University Press’s decision not to publish the cartoons. But she was disturbed by the withdrawal of the other representations of Muhammad. All of those images are widely available, Ms. Klausen said by telephone, adding that 'Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.'”
She is also unhappy about YUP's insistence that she sign a nondisclosure agreement before she can read the actual recommendations of the 24 experts. "'I perceive it to be a gag order,” she said, after declining to sign. While she could understand why some of the individuals consulted might prefer to remain unidentified, she said, she did not see why she should be precluded from talking about their conclusions."
The book should be available by November. Read more here.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
A federal district court has dismissed a federal class action lawsuit and claims of unfair competition made under state statute against Qualcomm. Christopher Lorenzo had brought suit over "anti-competitive CDMA licensing practices", used in cell phones. Judge William Q. Hayes ruled that Mr. Lorenzo did not have standing to bring the suit and that he had not made out a case to compensation under the California statute. Read more here.
The Advertising Standards Authority has criticized the Express newspapers for "disguising" advertising as editorials. The ASA published three separate adjudications on the issue, on LIPObind, on Copper Heeler (a product designed to relieve arthritic pain), and on LadyCare (a product designed to assist with menopausal symptoms).
The Monitoring team identified that the Daily Express was routinely publishing what appeared to be full-page features for various products. The top half of the pages was presented as an article containing information about a product, including efficacy claims for that product. The articles were written by Alison Coleman and they appeared under the heading "express lifestyle - to advertise in this section call 0871 xxx xxxx or e-mail". The bottom half of the pages featured an ad that contained information on where that same product could be bought.
For example, in the LIPObind case, the ASA found that
The ASA noted that the articles were always and uniquely favourable to the product featured in the accompanying ad and contained claims that have been or would be likely to be prohibited in advertisements. We noted that the same or substantially similar articles had appeared on different dates; we considered that whilst it was normal for advertising copy to be repeated on different dates, it was unusual for genuine editorial pieces to appear in the same or similar form in the same publication on different dates. We noted that the articles gave the companys website address and telephone number for more information about the product featured in the ad. Although we accepted that, at first sight, the articles appeared distinct from the ads that featured below it, we considered the information presented in the articles complemented and added to the information provided in the ads. We considered that the average reader would have understood the entire page to be a feature on the product, no matter the distinct styles of the top and bottom of the pages. We considered that by using that approach, the publisher and advertiser were intentionally attempting to circumvent the Code by asserting the top of the pages were not advertising. We concluded that the routine publication of these pages and the nature of the articles strongly suggested a commercial arrangement existed between the newspaper and the advertiser and that the advertiser exerted a sufficient degree of control over the content of the articles to warrant the term "Advertisement feature" or the like being placed above the articles.
On this point, the top half of the pages breached CAP Code clauses 23.1 and 23.2 (Advertisement features).
We noted that an ASA adjudication in May 2008 concluded that evidence presented by the advertiser did not demonstrate that LIPObind helped weight loss or that it could "bind to fat". We noted that the top half of the pages referred to LIPObinds effectiveness at binding fat and causing weight loss. Because we had not seen new evidence to demonstrate that this was the case we considered that the top half of the pages were misleading.
On this point, the articles breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 50.1 (Health & beauty products and therapies).
We told the Daily Express and Goldshield to ensure that their advertorials were identified as advertisement features in future. We told Goldshield to remove the claims and advised them to seek CAP Copy Advice before advertising again.
Read more in this Guardian story.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
This paper suggests that authorship and creativity, which necessarily precedes the production of literary and artistic works, are products of authentic human expression that the law must encourage in order for works, contributing to the progress of science and the useful arts, to be produced. While the commercial market for literary and artistic works encourages the creation of diverse works to meet popular consumer demand, encouraging the production of works for the commercial market may however result in works, which may lack social, educational and cultural value or utility. Natural law philosophy, which advocates a natural order for society and the actions of men, has a lot to teach about the copyright system as a larger ethical and moral institution to promote the progress of society through the process of authentic authorship. The unique nature of creative works as quasi-public goods, which are not rivaled in consumption and generally non-excludable, requires the grant of exclusive rights to facilitate public dissemination of these works but the special role individual authorship and creativity plays in the production of these works render the rights of an author in the product of their creation as larger, and more encompassing, than the statutory economic incentives to publicly disseminate work. The author's reasons for creating a work may differ remarkably from his incentive to publicly distribute the work. While economic incentives offer authors market rewards that may facilitate the creation and dissemination of literary and artistic works, economic rights represent only a portion of rights, which the copyright system should recognize in the author. This paper makes the case for the recognition of property rights in the author's creation, which originating from an author undertaking of the act of creativity and authorship, is a right to the author's literary and artistic creation that is good against the world, and, which, if protected, will result in authentic expressions of greater significance upon the progress of science and the useful arts in society.
Download the article from SSRN here.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Charlottesville, Virginia, police have arrested a 34-year-old blogger, apparently for the posts on her blog. According to an editorial in the Washington Post, Elisha Strom "was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law." Ms. Strom publishes information about the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement task force, which she gets from public records, according to her blog and to the Post. The police chief had warned Ms. Strom that "her blog posts were scaring off informants and endangering the officers and their families, but he provided no evidence. At no point did Ms. Strom's blog express a threat, explicit or otherwise, to police or their sources," according to the Post editorial. See more coverage here by a local television station.
Read more here (registration required, free).
Sunday, August 9, 2009