Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Debbie Rowe Wants Default Judgment In Defamation Case

Debbie Rowe, the ex-wife of the late Michael Jackson, has asked a court to grant her a default judgmenet against Rebecca White, whom Ms. Rowe claims made defamatory statements concerning Ms. Rowe's attitude toward the children Ms. Rowe had with the late singer. Ms. White is alleged to have made the statements on the show "Extra." Ms. Rowe objects to allegations that she was willing to give up any custody rights in exchange for money. A judge has scheduled a hearing on Ms. Rowe's request for mid-November. Read more here.

October 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Prosecution of War Crimes Under Australian Law

Ben Saul, University of Sydney, Faculty of Law, has published "Prosecuting War Crimes at Balibo Under Australian Law: The Killing of Five Journalists in East Timor by Indonesia," at 31 Sydney Law Review 83 (2009). Here is the abstract.

The killing of five young Australian, New Zealander and British journalists at the village of Balibo during the Indonesian invasion of Portuguese Timor in 1975 has long been surrounded by controversy, obfuscation and intrigue. While many suspected that the journalists were deliberately killed by clandestine Indonesian military forces or proxy militias, for 35 years Indonesia has maintained that the journalists were collaterally killed in the crossfire of battle, or were active participants in hostilities. Despite numerous executive inquiries over 30 years, it was not until late 2007 that a judicial inquiry into their deaths was held in Sydney, which found that the journalists were wilfully killed by Indonesian forces, in circumstances likely amounting to war crimes. The Australian Federal Police is currently considering whether to prosecute and extradite Indonesian suspects, including a former government minister. This article picks up where the recent coronial inquest left off by examining whether the killings amounted to war crimes which can be prosecuted. In doing so, it investigates the complex nature of the conflict (international and non-international); the obligations of the parties (Indonesia, Portugal, Australia and non-state forces); the attribution of non-State conduct to Indonesia; the legal status and protection of journalists; universal jurisdiction for war crimes and Australia's 1957 implementing legislation (under which there has never been a prosecution); difficulties of evidence and inter-temporal law; immunities and non-justiciability; and prospects for extradition under a bilateral agreement between Australian and Indonesia.

Download the Article from SSRN here.

October 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The War of the Worlds

This is it: the anniversary of the day the Martians landed, or didn't, depending on your state of mind. And the state was New Jersey, the place, Grover's Mill. And the perp was Orson Welles.

NPR's Story Corps has this remembrance of that October 30, 1938 broadcast of Mr. Welles' Mercury Theatre "War of the Worlds" dramatization, one over which Congress and the FCC got exercised. Read more about fallout from that night here in a Time magazine article from 2008 and enjoy a tribute webcast to the original tonight at 8 p.m. EDT, 7 Central time (link here).

October 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Protecting Journalists In Danger Zones

Ben Saul, University of Sydney Faculty of Law, has published "The International Protection of Journalists in Armed Conflict and Other Violent Situations," at 14 Australian Journal of Human Rights 99 (2008). Here is the abstract.


Journalists and war correspondents have long assumed a special importance in investigating and documenting war crimes and other human rights violations in armed conflict. In recent years, threats to the safety of journalists have proliferated. This article considers how international law protects journalists and media personnel and objects from violence. The examines the legal regimes applicable in international armed conflict, followed by non-international conflict, and finally violent situations (or public emergencies) beneath the level of armed conflict (such as low-level insurgency, terrorism or other domestic unrest). While the normative legal frameworks protecting journalists and media objects are well developed, the application of those norms raises complex interpretive issues which are examined in this article, while there remains the residual problem - common to humanitarian law as a whole - of securing enforcement and implementation of those norms.

Download the article from SSRN here.

October 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Impact of the "Pirate Bay" Decision

Michael A. Carrier, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, has published "The Pirate Bay, Grokster and Google."  Here is the abstract.
The Pirate Bay. Three simple words. Such strong reactions. Proponents point to a vibrant forum for distributing files. Critics lament the massive pirating of copyrighted works.

The Swedish district court recently found The Pirate Bay (TPB) guilty of making copyrighted works available. This article explores the consequences of this decision. It first explains the technology underlying TPB and provides an overview of the website. It then analyzes the court’s opinion. Next, it applies the opinion’s reasoning to the Google search engine and the activities at issue in MGM v. Grokster.

The article finds that Google would potentially be liable and Grokster would likely be liable under the analysis of the TPB opinion. It concludes that the court’s broad views of complicity could, if adopted, have powerful effects in future cases.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Test For an Interluctory Injunction in Australian Defamation Law

David Rolph, University of Sydney Faculty of Law, has published "Showing Restraint: Interlocutory Injunctions in Defamation Cases," at 14 Media and Arts Law Review 255 (2009). Here is the abstract.

The proper test to be applied to the grant of an interlocutory injunction to restrain the publication of defamatory matter is rarely litigated at the highest appellate level. The High Court of Australia's decision in Australian Broadcasting Corporation v O'Neill (2006) 227 CLR 57 provided an opportunity to clarify the applicable principles and potentially to end the division of judicial and academic opinion between what has been characterised as the 'rigid' and the 'flexible' approaches to such relief. This article analyses the reasoning in A.B.C. v O’Neill. It questions whether it can be properly claimed that general equitable principles apply to the grant of injunctions in defamation cases when, in substance, the approach of the majority in A.B.C. v O'Neill appears to treat defamation as a special case. Beyond an engagement with the principles governing injunctive relief in defamation cases, this article argues that A.B.C. v O'Neill raises further, difficult issues of principle, such as the value to be ascribed to freedom of speech; the meaning of ‘trial by media’; the role of reputation in defamation law; and the emerging tension between injunctions to restrain the publication of defamatory matter and invasions of privacy.

Download the Article from SSRN here.

October 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Church of Scientology Loses Case In French Court

The prosecution brought against the French branch of the Church of Scientology has ended in a partial victory for the government, which had alleged fraud on the part of the Church. The court has ordered Church leaders and two of its operations centers to pay a 600,000 Euro fine. The Church must also advertise the news of the verdict in its publications. However, the Church can still operate in France, and plans to appeal the verdict, according to this BBC story. Here's more from CNN International.

October 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

That Craigslist Erotic Services Lawsuit

From the New York Times, commentary on the end of that lawsuit against Craigslist brought by the sheriff of Cook County. Here's the original complaint. Here's the judge's ruling.

October 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Examining VARA

Charles Cronin, Yale Law School, has published "Dead on the Vine: Living and Conceptual Art and Vara." Here is the abstract.
The Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), arriving in the wake of U.S. adherence to the Berne Convention, provides moral rights of integrity and attribution to artists who have created certain copyrightable physical works of visual art. Since - and before - the time of VARA’s enactment, however, many artists have been working with genres and media to produce art that is not comfortably accommodated within the scope of protected works contemplated by VARA. An increasing number of recent works of Conceptual and Appropriationist Art raise questions about fixation and original expression that are required for copyrightability that, in turn, is required for protection under VARA. This article discusses the uncomfortable fit of VARA and many contemporary works of art, and particularly those that incorporate to a significant extent living works in their natural state. The discussion focuses on the recent decision in a dispute involving a VARA claim in a living landscape (Chapman Kelley v. Chicago Park District, N.D. Ill., 2008). It concludes that works of art in which nature and chance play a dominant role are Conceptual works in which the artist’s contribution is limited to ideas that should not be protected by copyright or VARA.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 26, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)