Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

EU Commissioner Says Current Net Neutrality Policies, Regs Ok For Now

Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, says about the current net neutrality regime:

[W]e have to avoid regulation which might deter investment and an efficient use of the available resources.

That would be cutting off our nose to spite our face.

We need investment to avoid bottlenecks and to allow the development of new bandwidth-hungry services and applications.

We should allow network operators and services and content providers to explore innovative business models, leading to a more efficient use of the networks and creating new business opportunities at different levels of the Internet value chain.


[I]n general, providers have upheld the principle of open access – end users may access most of the applications and services of their choice.

However, blocking and "throttling" of sites and applications or applying differentiated end-user data charges for certain applications continues to a certain extent.

This clearly creates a problem if consumers are not duly informed and do not have the possibility to easily switch to alternative providers which do not undertake such practices.

Blocking of Internet telephone services i.e. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) – in particular Skype - over mobile networks is the obvious example today.

The situation has improved somewhat but the problem has by no means been fully resolved.

VoIP is merely today's example. There will surely be other examples with future innovations and that is why we cannot be complacent.

But I think consumers should not underestimate their own power in shaping this situation.

There were 21 million people using Skype alongside me when I called my family at the weekend.

That is a huge market. And I say to those people who are currently cut off from Skype: vote with your feet and leave your mobile provider.

The message will be most powerful when it comes from both the bottom-up and the top-down.


The telecoms framework, agreed by the European Parliament and Council, gives us important tools.

Firstly, national regulatory authorities have a clear mandate to “promote the ability of end-users to access and distribute information or run applications and services of their choice”.

Making this work requires a spirit of collaboration between industry and regulators.

Secondly, regulators are also empowered to impose, in close cooperation with the Commission, minimum quality of service requirements to prevent service degradation.

Thirdly, operators are required to inform customers of any traffic management measures they are deploying.

Given the potential of those tools, it is only fair that we test their effectiveness.

That means allowing a reasonable period of time after these provisions are implemented and applied to see if the new rules are working.

We will make sure these provisions are applied in all Member States in a coordinated and coherent way.

Read her entire speech here. More coverage here.



November 13, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The NYT On the "Terror Tweet"

More on the Paul Chambers "Terror Tweet" case, from the New York Times.

November 13, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stephen Fry Offers To Pay Fine For "Menacing Tweeter"

Paul Chambers sent what a judge has ruled was a "menacing Tweet" expressing his frustration with the closing of a local airport and was socked with a conviction and a thousand pound fine. He appealled, and a judge has now upheld the fine. He also now has court costs and legal fees to pay. So actor Stephen Fry has offered to pay the fine for the now unemployed accountant, who lost his job when he was originally convicted. Mr. Fry originally made the offer when the fine was originally imposed and has now done so again.

November 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FCC Begins Investigation Of Google Street View Program

The FCC has announced it is investigating Google's Street View program for privacy breaches. Like agencies in several other countries, the agency launched an investigation because of private complaints. The Wall Street Journal reported that the FCC began its look into Google's program when the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint alleging that the company had violated laws on electronic eavesdropping. An earlier FTC investigation ended last month without agency action.

November 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UK Local Councils Shouldn't Charge For FOI Requests

From Roy Greenslade's blog: local councils cannot charge for freedom of information requests. Apparently, Hampshire County Council (England) had been planning to charge for such requests, and reporters were up in arms over the issue.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles issued a statement saying in part:

If town halls want to reduce the amount they spend on responding to freedom of information requests they should consider making the information freely available in the first place.

The simple act of throwing open the books, rather than waiting for them to be prised apart by the force of an FoI, might even save a few pounds in the process.

Ninety councils have already published details of day-to-day spending over £500 online. Those councils recognise that not only does the public have a legitimate right to see information about what their council spends and the decisions it makes, but that openness and transparency is absolutely critical to root out waste and inefficiency.

Greater local accountability is essential to accompany the greater powers and freedoms that the new Government is giving to local government.

November 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Pineapple Chunks and a Storebought Chicken

Friday fun: The Sun provides a link to the MasterChef parody that has become an Internet hit in just one week.

November 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

PRC Objects To Image of Chinese Intelligence Agents On BBC Show

The People's Republic of China is extremely unhappy at the portrayal of Chinese agents on the popular BBC spy drama Spooks. In fact, the Chinese government is so miffed that it has told media in China not to "cooperate" with BBC Worldwide, according to The Guardian. Will this action derail the storyline of the British series? Not likely. The episodes involving Chinese agents wrapped up Sunday.

The PRC isn't the first country to object to the manner in which a television show have portrayed its citizens and policies. A Turkish show annoyed the Israeli government last year. An Israeli show ticked off the Vatican last year as well.

November 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Paris and Hallmark Settle Greeting Card Dispute

Hallmark Cards and Paris Hilton have settled their dispute over Ms. Hilton's lawsuit concerning Hallmark's use of her image and one of her favorite sayings, "That's hot," in a greeting card. So, now both she and Hallmark will be in at least some First Amendment, IP, and entertainment law school casebooks.  The hotitude meter climbs.

November 10, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The EU Data Retention Directive and Customer Privacy

Ian Brown, University of Oxford, Oxford Internet Institute, is publishing Communications Data Retention in an Evolving Internet in the International Journal of Law and Information Technology. Here is the abstract.
The 2006 Data Retention Directive requires EU-based Internet Service Providers to store information on customers and their online communications. The Directive is being reviewed by the European Commission, and has been criticised in a number of recent national constitutional court judgments due to its impact on privacy. It is now being considered by the European Court of Justice. This article describes the likely impact on data retention of further developments in Internet usage, technology and law. It outlines the increasing use of private networks and member community sites that are not subject to the Directive, and the changes in surveillance technology and practice that some member states have proposed in response. It concludes by analysing the key factors to be taken into account in the EC and ECJ reviews, and suggests more proportionate and effective mechanisms for preserving appropriate law enforcement access to communications data.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

November 10, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NYU Carter Journalism Institute Accepting Applications For "The Reporting Award

From New York University's Carter Journalism Institute

November 10, 2010               
N-132, 2010-11

James Devitt

NYU Carter Journalism Institute Accepting Applications for “The Reporting Award” to Cover Underreported Topics in the Public Interest

New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute is accepting applications for “The Reporting Award,” which supports a work of journalism in any medium on significant underreported subjects of public interest.

The Carter Institute initiated the award in 2009 to encourage enterprising journalism at a time when staff and budget cuts have diminished the capacity of the media to support such projects. The inaugural recipient of the award was Sarah Stillman
(, a freelance journalist who traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to investigate the difficulties experienced by many civilian workers on U.S. military bases.

A committee of Carter Institute faculty will select one recipient based on an application due January 15, 2011. The recipient will be announced on or around March 1, 2011, with the project completion deadline set for October 1, 2011. Details and the online application form are available here: For more information, email or call 212.998.7887.

The award includes a stipend of $2,500 upon selection as the competition winner and an additional $10,000 upon timely completion and submission of the work, provided the Institute’s awards committee judges the work acceptable. The winner will also have use of the Institute’s facilities as well as NYU’s libraries and other scholarly resources. In addition, the program will fund up to $6,000 of NYU journalism graduate student assistance. The Institute will publish the completed work either alone or in partnership with another media outlet.

The Reporting Award is one of many Carter Journalism Institute initiatives to expand the journalistic enterprise. This fall, the Institute unveiled The Local East Village, a collaborative publication of the Institute and The New York Times covering news in the East Village community of Manhattan. Last year, it launched two new graduate programs: “Literary Reportage,” which blends journalism’s emphasis on rigorous reporting and research with traditional academic disciplines in teaching long-form nonfiction, and “Studio 20,” in which students work in partnership with established media outlets to develop innovative video, audio, and experimental web-based journalism intended for a live public beyond campus. The Institute has eight additional graduate programs: Science, Health and Environmental Reporting, Cultural Reporting and Criticism, Business and Economic Reporting, Global and Joint Program Studies, Reporting New York, Reporting the Nation, News and Documentary and Magazine Writing. The Institute also has a number of joint masters degree programs with other NYU departments and offers an undergraduate major in journalism.

For more on the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, go to

November 10, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Say It Ain't So! Coach Class?

The new SAG and AFTRA agreements with the studios apparently have given up a huge perk--first class cabins on flights under 1000 miles for their members. For flights over that 1,000 mile mark, first class or business class still holds. Of course the big names can still hold out for first class everywhere, but generally speaking, that boat has sailed. Sorry for mixing my metaphors.

More here from Variety.

November 10, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PTC Lists EIghteen Objectionable Words

The Parents Television Council has published its list of eighteen words that it believes should not be heard on television, and lists their frequency. The Hollywood Reporter reprints the list here. Pretty interesting.

November 9, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Analyzing "To Catch a Predator"

Amy M. Adler, New York University School of Law, is publishing To Catch a Predator in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law. Here is the abstract.

In the last two decades, a new term - “sexual predator” - has arisen to describe criminals who commit sexual offenses against children. We used to refer to such offenders as “pedophiles” or perhaps “child molesters.” First emerging in the 1990s, the word “predator” has become a term of art in legal regulation and a mainstay in media reports and in the popular imagination. Yet since the term “predator” first emerged in legal discourse, its meaning has expanded and mutated to include a broadening array of sex criminals.

In this interdisciplinary paper, I explore the wildly popular – and controversial - television series called “To Catch A Predator” that played a dramatic role in shaping the category of “predator” in the popular imagination, in public policy and in law. My argument is that the show’s invocation of the category of “predator” both constituted and destabilized that category in surprising ways that have shaped the legal discourse on child predation.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

November 9, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Warner Brothers Buys Part of Leavesden Studios For One Hundred Million Pounds

Warner Brothers has made an enormous investment in Leavesden Studios, home of the Harry Potter films. More here.

November 9, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Review of "The War For Late Night"

A review of Bill Carter's new The War For Late Night (Viking/Penguin), discussing the battle between Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno, here.

November 9, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Judge Allows Sony Pictures To Release "The Illusionist" Next Month

Judge Dolly M. Gee has refused to grant an injunction to Illusionist Distribution, which holds the rights to The Illusionist, starring Edward Nortion, allowing Sony Pictures to release The Illusionist next month. The Sony Pictures film is animated, and is based on a screenplay by French director/actor Jacques Tati. Illusionist Distribution, which filed its suit October 25, had argued that audiences would be confused by the similarity in title and that its picture, "The Illusionist" had acquired a distinctive meaning.

November 8, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Comcast/NBCU Merger May Cost Consumers A Lot In Higher Fees

Via the Hollywood Reporter: estimated costs of the Comcast/NBCU merger are some 2.4 billion dollars to the consumer, because of higher monthly bills. These are the results of a study by the American Cable Association, which says the merger will be extremely taxing on the public if regulators don't step in.

The study, conducted by Dr. William Rogerson, professor of economics at Northwestern University, who served as the FCC's chief economist 1998-1999, estimates vertical harm of the deal at $1.43 billion and the horizontal harm at $1.14 billion over the next nine years.

Vertical harm stems from the combination of programming assets and distribution, which will permit Comcast-NBC Uni to raise the fees it charges for programming to other distributors, including ACA members, such as RCN and WOW!


November 8, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Olbermann Returns To MSNBC Tuesday

MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann, whom the network put on suspension following revelations that he had donated money to Democratic candidates in violation of network policy, will return to the air Tuesday night. More here from the Hollywood Reporter.

November 8, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)