Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, January 29, 2010

CBS Says No To Gay Dating Site's Request To Air Ad During Super Bowl

In the wake of controversy over CBS's agreement to air the anti-abortion ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother during the Super Bowl, the network has refused the request of gay dating site to air its ad. Although CBS says it has "relaxed" its policy regarding advocacy ads, it told the site that the spot was not within the Network's Broadcast Standards for Super Bowl Sunday" and that the sales department could not verify that the site could guarantee payment for the cost of the ad.

January 29, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chicago Tribune Files Lawsuit Over U of I Admissions Lists

The Chicago Tribune is suing the University of Illinois to gain access to the names of the parents of applicants to the school, and to the names of persons who might have lobbied the university on behalf of those applicants. The University says that information is protected under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, and has refused to divulge the information. Read more here.

January 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Rules That Former TalkSport Host May Challenge Ofcom Ruling Over On Air Comments

Radio host Jon Gaunt will be allowed to challenge Ofcom's ruling that he breached the broadcast code by calling London councilman Michael Stark a "health Nazi" and other things on air, a London court has ruled. Mr. Justice Stadlen accepted Mr. Gaunt's arguments that Ofcom's adjudication that the comments breached Ofcom's code raised enough questions concerning Mr. Gaunt's freedom of expression under the UK's Human Rights Act, enacted in 1998. Mr. Gaunt lost his job with TalkSport over the incident.

Read the text of Ofcom's challenged ruling here.

January 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dominique de Villepin Acquitted

Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has been acquitted of defamation charges arising out of the "Clearstream" scandal. He was accused of slandering current French President and former Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy. Read more here in a BBC story, here in a CNN story, and here in a New York Times story.

January 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Carlos the Jackal" Sues For Right To Review Upcoming Documentary

From the Washington Post, news that Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, is suing for the right to review a new documentary about him being produced for the French network Canal Plus. His attorney Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who is married to Mr. Ramírez Sánchez, says the film violates her client's right of publicity and intellectual property rights.

The film studio, Film In Stock, says its work is protected under the French constitution's right to freedom of speech.

January 26, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Texas State Board of Education Members Get Their Bill Martins Mixed Up

From the Chronicle of Higher Education, news that a member of the Texas State Board of Education asked that a book by "Bill Martin" be banned from the third grade social studies curriculum because it promulgated "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."

As it turns out, the late Bill Martin who wrote Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, the book to which TSBE member Pat Hardy objected, isn't the Bill Martin who wrote Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. Mr. Hardy took the recommendation of another board member, who told him she hadn't actually read the book, and had relied on a description from the website.

More here from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

January 25, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Networks, Talent Agencies, Writers Agree To Settle Long Running Suit Over Age Discrimination

The grey-listing (ageism) lawsuit against various tv studios seems to be at an end, with a court-okayed settlement.

Various writers, led by Tracy Keenan Wynn, filed the suit in 2000, alleging that they were systematically prevented from competing for work by talent agents and the networks and studios, work instead going to younger writers who were perceived as more likely to appeal to viewers. According to an article in Variety, among the defendants who have settled by agreeing to a payment of $70 million to the 165 plaintiffs are ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, DreamWorks TV, Spelling Telelvision, Carsey Werner, and Warner Brothers Television, and agencies APA, UTA, and William Morris. Creative Artists Agency has not agreed to the settlement.

Here's more from the Fresno Bee.

January 25, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Reduces $2 Million Award In Music Downloading Case To $54,000

Judge Michael Davis has reduced that multimillion-dollar award against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who was found liable for dowloading 24 songs illegally, to $54,000. Judge Davis found the $2 million award "outrageous." Here's discussion from around the cybersphere from the BBC and from Copyrights and Consequences.

January 25, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Analyzing the Progress of the Performance Rights Act

Brian Richard Day, George Washington Law School, has published "The Super Brawl: The History and Future of the Sound Recording Performance Right," at 16 Michigan Telecommications and Technology Law Review 1 (2009). Here is the abstract.

On February 4, 2009, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced the “The Performance Rights Act” to the Senate, joined by Representative John Conyers in the House of Representatives. Thirty-eight years after sound recordings were first granted federal copyright protection against unauthorized reproduction and distribution, and more than ten years after gaining a limited digital performance right, legislation is pending that would once again expand the scope of sound recording copyrights to encompass terrestrial radio broadcasts - broadcasts that have historically been exempt from sound recording performance royalties.

The fighters in this brawl are sophisticated heavyweights. In one corner of the ring are record labels - an industry in distress, which has consistently struggled to adapt to the digital market. In the other are the broadcasters - a media behemoth whose cries of “promotional compensation” seem increasingly unconvincing in our digital world. Standing on the sidelines are music fans that rely more and more on digital performances, unknowingly thinning record label wallets, and perhaps stalling creativity, in the process.

Instead of (or in addition to) seeking remuneration from terrestrial radio stations, this paper suggests that sound recording copyright holders should seek to further expand their digital performance right to permit collection of royalties from websites which regularly perform user-generated audiovisual works. In consideration for an annual blanket fee, these performance-based sites would be secure against DMCA notice-and-takedown proceedings and infringement actions from participating sound recording copyright owners. Such a compromise would permit sound recording copyright holders to receive just compensation for their works performed online, save sites like YouTube millions in administrative and legal fees, and permit users to freely and fairly post sound recordings online.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

January 25, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Future of Privacy

Paul M. Schwartz, University of California Berkeley School of Law, reviews Lawrence Friedman's Guarding Life and Daniel Solove's The Future of Reputation in "From Victorian Secrets to Cyberspace Shaming," at 76 University of Chicago Law Review 1407 (2009).

Worrying about privacy is a growth industry. The public is highly concerned about how its personal information is collected, stored, and processed. Technology companies compete to create new applications that will analyze personal data and meet new needs, such as the ability to broadcast one’s GPS data to family and friends (no more lunches alone). The government is interested in access to personal data for law enforcement, regulatory, and administrative purposes. And the media, when not reporting on the latest privacy invasions by companies or government, is publishing “tell-all” stories on anyone viewed as newsworthy, that is, deemed worthy of its attention.

Two excellent guides to this cauldron of law, social change, and technology have now been published. These are Lawrence Friedman’s Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets, and Daniel Solove’s The Future of Reputation. In this Review, I discuss and analyze the main arguments of both books. Friedman and Solove make major contributions to our understanding of privacy law. The great benefit of Friedman’s work comes from its rich depiction of the legal and social context of privacy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the uncertain fate of it in the twenty-first century. The merit of Solove’s work is his precise guidance through the new landscape of Internet-based phenomena and his insights into how these affect privacy and reputation - often in a fashion unanticipated by the general public. I also offer critiques of each volume. Regarding Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets, I argue that Friedman’s terminology regarding social structure is looser than it should be, which leads to a sacrifice of some intellectual clarity in the otherwise brilliant landscape of his book. Moreover, Friedman warns that in the future, technology will work as a way to squeeze discretion and privacy out of the legal system. In my view, however, technology is today accompanied by a series of discretionary choices that affect privacy. Technology provides new and complex ways to disguise discretion.

In The Future of Reputation, Solove is interested in how norms can affect behavior and even supplement law. I would have liked to have heard more from him, however, about how cyberspace affects the generation of norms, and how his privacy-promotive norms are to be generated. Moreover, Solove largely views law as an independent variable. He approaches law as a norm entrepreneur and calls for a number of changes in it. Yet, in certain instances, I wished his proposals to be more detailed and more fully operationalized. Finally, I suggest a number of new Internet-based phenomena that Solove might consider in the future, perhaps in Reputation 2.0, the (hypothetical) next edition of his book.

Download the book review from SSRN at the link.

January 25, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CBS and That Tebow Super Bowl Ad

CBS seems willing to air an anti-abortion ad during the upcoming Super Bowl, paid for by contributions from Focus on the Family and featuring quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, even though the network has never allowed political ads during the high profile sports event before. In the past it has turned down commercials from such diverse advertisers as PETA and the United Church of Christ. Read more here in a Guardian story and here at Here's discussion from the New Republic on the effect the ad might have on Mr. Tebow's pro career.

January 25, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)