Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lawyers, Lawyers, Everywhere For Fall

Ah, yes, they're back in vogue for fall (did they ever really go away?) Attorneys are the careerists of choice for fall dramas, although health professionals are not far behind.

NBC will be offering up a new David E. Kelley series, Legally Mad; ABC brings us, I, Claudia (get it?) and something from Dave Hemingson (who created How I Met Your Mother--which also features a lawyer); CBS has bought a series that revolves around U.S. Attorneys (and yes, there was a series about U.S. attorneys a few years back called A.U.S.A. on NBC--it  vanished after eight episodes). There are also a number of new series that feature cops and detectives and amateur detectives, so lawyers will also undoubtedly be involved.

Read more here.

February 6, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Six Face Trial Over Translation of Koran

Six Afghanistani men are jailed over a translation of Koran which critics say is unauthorized, and because it does not include the original Arabic version, is also heretical. They have had trouble finding legal assistance, and fear that they will not get a fair trial. Two of them face the death penalty. Read more here.

February 6, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

JuicyCampus Runs Out of Juice

JuicyCampus, the gossip website, is shutting down.  Matt Ivester, the site's founder, says a lack of revenue, not threats of lawsuits or nasty publicity, has led to the demise of the operation.

What a wild ride this has been! In the past year and a half, JuicyCampus has become synonymous with college gossip, and is more popular than I could have ever expected....Unfortunately, even with great traffic and strong user loyalty, a business can’t survive and grow without a steady stream of revenue to support it. In these historically difficult economic times, online ad revenue has plummeted and venture capital funding has dissolved. JuicyCampus’ exponential growth outpaced our ability to muster the resources needed to survive this economic downturn, and as a result, we are closing down the site as of Feb. 5, 2009.


February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Says No To SAG Leadership Request For TRO

SAG President Alan Rosenberg and other members of the guild's board went to court to try to undo last week's ouster of Doug Allen, but a judge denied the request for a temporary restraining order. Here's more from the Hollywood Reporter.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

AP Says It's Entitled To Credit, Cash, For Artist's Use of Obama Photo

Artist Shepard Fairey and the Associated Press are now locked in a battle over the copyright to an image of President Barack Obama. Photographer Mannie Garcia took the original photo of then candidate Obama, and Mr. Fairey used it as the basis for his image of Mr. Obama. The Fairey work has sold, or has been in used, in numerous incarnations. Here's the issue: was Mr. Fairey's adaptation of the image fair use? Read more here.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

After-Grokster Liability

Mark Bartholomew, University at Buffalo Law School (SUNY), has published "Copyright, Trademark and Secondary Liability after Grokster," in the 2009 volume of the Columbia Journal of Law & the Arts. Here is the abstract.

Even though secondary infringement doctrine in both copyright and trademark stems from the same common law starting points, the doctrines have moved in very different directions, particularly in the last decade. As copyright litigants expanded their litigation strategy to include online intermediaries, secondary copyright liability was stretched to encompass a wider array of defendants with increasingly tangential relationships to the direct infringer. Meanwhile, even though similar online threats jeopardized the ability of trademark holders to safeguard their brands' goodwill, courts refused to implement a similar expansion for secondary trademark liability. Although courts are aware of this doctrinal double standard, they offer no explanation for it. This article tries to provide that explanation by chronicling the case law in this area since the Supreme Court's decision in MGM Studios v. Grokster (a previous article traced the case law up to the Grokster decision) and comparing it to traditional rationales for imposing liability on indirect actors. The article speculates that the divergence in secondary liability standards owes more to the litigation and public relations strategies of copyright interests than obeisance to deep rooted common law principles.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Internet Law in a Nutshell

Michael L. Rustad, Suffolk University Law School, has published Internet Law in a Nutshell (2009). Here is the abstract.
This clear, handily organized primer is ideally suited for law students or lawyers who need a brief exposition of the core cases and statutes shaping Internet law, technologies, and policies. The book begins with a clear review of the history, technology, and competing theories of the Internet that enables a deeper understanding of case law and statutory developments discussed in the substantive chapters. The book covers a broad array of Internet law topics including the history of the Internet to the rapidly evolving Web 3.0, competing theories of Internet governance, cyber jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments, choice and conflicts of law, cybertorts, online contracting and licensing, the protection of online intellectual property assets, the protection of online privacy, criminal liability for Internet activity, and European Community Directives such as the E-Commerce Directive, Brussels Regulation, and Rome I Regulation. This nutshell is the first student outline, study guide, or brief exposition of the law of the Internet. The emphasis on topics such as licensing and e-commerce transactions makes it an indispensable legal resource for anyone who works online, including high-tech and e-commerce companies, old economy businesses with websites, Internet developers, software programmers, graphic artists and individuals with websites.
Download the preface, outline, and chapter one here.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

MPs Hear Testimony on Financial Information, Relationships Between Journalists, Government

At least one journalist told Members of Parliament this week that he thought that the government gave the media information in order to influence bank share prices. According to Guardian reporter Simon Jenkins, "The government, knowing it was about to acquire large chunks of these banks was, I sense, using the press to force down the share price." However, other reporters disagreed, saying they did not think their sources had used them or planted information. Read more here.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reaction To Carol Thatcher Firing

Some BBC staff say the reaction against Carol Thatcher for that "golliwog" remark was disproportionate. She was fired, but others, such as Jonathan Ross (remember Sachsgate) who have made equally offensive remarks have only been put on probation. Read more here.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Hollywood's War With the Pirates

The New York Times's Brian Stelter and Brad Stone write about Hollywood's digital piracy war here.

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Congress Sends Bill Authorizing Digital Delay To President's Desk

A bill delaying the digital switchover until June 12 is on its way to President Obama's desk. The House vote was 264-158.

February 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

K-E-Double L-O-Double Good....

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a Kellogg's ad for cookies after the consumer lobby Which? complained that an ad campaign for Nutri-Grain Soft Oaties cookies with the tagline "Wholesome cookie goodness" in which a cookie replaced the "o"s, was misleading. Which? complained that the cookies were not healthy but were in fact full of fat.

The ASA agreed with Kellogg's that, as far as the ad went it was accurate. But it also said

the Soft Oaties were high in sugar, fat and saturated fat referring only to those ingredients that could convey a nutritional benefit without also referring to those that might have a negative impact on health, the ad could imply the snack was wholly beneficial to health or that the Soft Oaties with Oat & Chocolate Chip were healthier than they were.  We were further concerned that the headline claim "Wholesome cookie goodness" enhanced that impression.  We concluded that the ads were likely to mislead.

The ads breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 and 7.2 (Truthfulness).  We also investigated the ads under CAP Code clause 3.1 (Substantiation) but did not find them in breach.

The ads must not appear again in their current form.  We advised Kellogg's to consult the CAP Copy Advice team before advertising again.

Read the entire ruling here.

February 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Carol Thatcher Dropped From BBC For Racist Remark

Carol Thatcher, daughter of former British PM Margaret Thatcher, is out at the BBC's The One Show after she was overheard referring to a tennis player as "a golliwog." In British slang, a "golliwog" is a racist term for a black person. Although Ms. Thatcher later apologized in writing, the BBC indicated that her contract will not be renewed.

February 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Britney Spears's Former Manager Sues For Defamation

Sam Lufti, who was Britney Spears' manager, has filed suit against the star and her parents for defamation and IIED just after the Spears family was granted a restraining order against Mr. Lufti and two others. Mr. and Mrs. Spears have made allegations that Mr. Lufti had contributed to the downward spiral of Ms. Spears' life by giving her drugs and controlling her business affairs. Read more here.

February 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is It SNL...Or Is It Memorex?

Those sketches featuring "MacGruber" and looking like a takeoff on "MacGyver" might have looked like Saturday Night Live sketches but they were real Pepsi ads, although SNL producer Lorne Michaels produced them and SNL cast member Will Forte starred. NBC brass note that the result was not just revenue, it was more exposure for the satiric late night show as well. Read more here.

February 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Joe "Girls Gone Wild" Francis Has a Very Bad Day

Things are going from bad to worse for "Girls Gone Wild" entrepreneur Joe Francis. He showed up hours late for a court hearing in Los Angeles, and when he finally materialized, the very annoyed judge had him arrested.  And why was Mr. Francis late? His lawyer Melissa Weinberger says he has the flu. And what was the hearing about? Ms. Weinberger says Mr. Francis's other lawyer Robert Barnes wants to withdraw from his tax evasion case, due to "strategic differences of opinion." Read more here.

February 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Christian Bale Baleful On Set of "Terminator: Salvation"

From CNN: A tape of Christian Bale going nuts on set over the director of photography, who was checking the lighting. Why is the tape public now? According to CNN, the studio sent the tape to its insurance company "just in case" Mr. Bale decided to quit the film. But that still doesn't explain the availability of the tape....Check out, which has the unexpurgated version here, and originally broke the story last year. Here's more from Fox News.

February 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Press's Take on Kelo

Lynne B. Sagalyn, Columbia Business School, has published "Positioning Politics: Kelo, Eminent Domain, and the Press," in Land and Power: The Impact of Eminent Domain in Urban Communities (Princeton University Press, 2008). Here is the abstract.

This paper explores the politics of the Kelo backlash by analyzing the content of public opinion published in editorials, op-eds, editorial cartoons, and letters-to-the editor on the pages of the nation's daily papers. Work by Nader, Diamond, and Patton (2006) analyzes public opinion from five polls conducted in fall 2005, after the decision came down. My work analyzes how press editors, elected officials, grass-roots organizations, organized constituencies, and individuals positioned their opinions in response to the controversial ruling, and what these opinions tell us about the character of the backlash. In a political minefield such as Kelo, where the legal and policy - if not emotional - issues are complex, what role does the press play in framing the issues? What coalitions are evident in the way various interests frame the issue? And how might such framing shape the politics of the many efforts to reform government's powers of eminent domain?

To address these issues, I constructed a database on Kelo press commentary (from 272 newspapers) based on search protocols around three newsworthy event episodes in the case: the U.S. Supreme Court's September 2004 decision to accept the case, oral arguments before the justices in February 2005, and the announcement of its ruling in June 2005. The content analysis of headlines, editorials and editorial cartoons revealed the political power of framing. Three salient messages characterized the reporting on Kelo in the month following the Court's ruling. First, the scope of government power has been broadened, bolstered, expanded, extended, strengthened, or widened. Second, homeowners have been shown the door, they are vulnerable, or their homes are up for grabs by government. Third, elected politicians are concerned and ready to take up and fight for property rights. The reporting was more interpretation than fact and relied heavily on inflammatory hyperbole and provocation. Overwhelmingly and unsurprisingly, the editorials voiced dissent with the Court's ruling, which mirrored public opinion data, but as with the reporting, they relied heavily upon a series of myths about Kelo and eminent domain. These myths became powerful framing devices, which have made eminent domain a touchstone social-policy battle with a life of its own. And, as evident in the editorial cartoons, the two previously esoteric Latin words have become household familiar, a political metaphor for excessive use of government power.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

February 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Law Schools, US News' Law School Rankings, and a New Study Discussing Them Both

Katherine Mangan of the Chronicle of Higher Education discusses Michael Sauder and Wendy Nelson Espeland's The Discipline of Rankings: Tight Coupling and Organizational Change, a study of US News' rankings of law schools, and the law schools' reactions to them, published in the February issue of the American Sociological Review. Say Sauder and Espeland, "

Rankings change perceptions of legal education through incentives that are simultaneously seductive and coercive," the article states. Despite having been widely denounced by law schools, "rankings have prompted broad changes in legal education, affecting how resources are distributed, decisions are made, and status is defined.

Robert Morse, of U.S. News, responds, both in a interview with the Chronicle, and here on his blog.

February 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

London Lite Issues Apology To David Walliams Over Montage

The British "free paper" London Lite has apologized to "Little Britain" star David Walliams for a photo montage that suggested he and model Peta Todd are in a "relationship." The paper said, "We are happy to do that and apologise for not making it clear previously. We are also sorry for giving the wrong impression that they were in a relationship, and for suggesting that David Walliams "kicked" Keeley Hazell out of a cab when in fact he provided her with a lift to her next destination." The Press Complaints Commission also issued a statement noting that the media should be careful to differentiate actual photos from created images such as montages so that the public is not "misled." Read more here.

February 3, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)