Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sienna Miller Settles With News of the World Over Phone Hacking

Actress Sienna Miller has accepted an offer of 100,000 pounds from tabloid News of the World in a settlement of her phone hacking lawsuit. NOTW has agreed to "unconditional liability" in the case. More here from The Guardian newspaper. The paper still faces other suits from its phone hacking activities, including a new one from James Hewitt, one of the men involved with the late Princess Diana.

May 13, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Judge In Sheen Case Wants To Hear More From Parties

From the Hollywood Reporter: Judge Allan Goodman has requested additional briefing on some issues before issuing his ruling on the question of whether Charlie Sheen will be getting that jury trial on his lawsuit against Warner Brothers and CBS. The network and studio want to go to arbitration, based on their contract with the actor.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

LSU Grad Student's Planned Flag Burning Ends Abruptly

A counter-protest, obscenities, and something of a crowd in a dangerous mood put an end to an LSU graduate student's planned flag burning at the LSU campus Parade Ground Wednesday. Police escorted Benjamin Haas to a waiting squad car "for his own safety." Mr. Haas told the media he had planned to burn the flag in response to a secretive theft and flag destruction last week on the LSU campus. Police have arrested a suspect in those and related crimes.

May 12, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

RFRA and Copyright Law

Steven D. Jamar, Howard University School of Law, has published Religious Use of Copyrighted Works after Smith, RFRA, and Eldred in volume 32 of the Cardozo (sic) Law Review. Here is the abstract.

In this Article, I evaluate the copyright doctrine of fair use and the use of injunctions to enforce copyrights in the context of religion in light of the Supreme Court decisions in Employment Division v. Smith and Eldred v. Ashcroft, and in light of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the Congressional response to Smith. I conclude that religion is a special category such that the religious nature of the work and the religious nature of the use of a work should affect fair use analysis and, where fair use does not protect the use, injunctions should be used sparingly in favor of using the remedy of compulsory license. 

These conclusions are supported by and are indeed in part a consequence of the social utilitarian foundation of copyright law in the United States and the related social justice principles of inclusion and empowerment, combined with the special place religion has in our constitutional scheme. My proposal provides a balanced, principled means for treating religion specially in the copyright context while maintaining both the copyright incentivizing function and the aim of making appropriate space for religious exercise and discourse.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Quotations and Indian Copyright Law

Tissya Mandal, India University, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, has published Copyright in Quotes. Here is the abstract.

The research paper gives a brief overview of copyright law as it relates to using quotations and extracts from other people’s writing. Copyright law protects expressions of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. Under section 13 of the Copyright Act 1957, copyright protection is conferred on literary works, dramatic works, musical works, artistic works, cinematograph films and sound recording. Copyright refers to a bundle of exclusive rights vested in the owner of copyright by virtue of Section 14 of the Act. These rights can be exercised only by the owner of copyright or by any other person who is duly licensed in this regard by the owner of copyright. These rights include the right of adaptation, right of reproduction, right of publication, right to make translations, communication to public etc. Reproducing or communicating copyright material without the copyright owner’s permission may infringe copyright. Reproducing or communicating part of a work may also infringe copyright. When is permission needed to use a quotation? There are two ways in which the word “quote” is understood. It can either be an extract from a larger work (for example, a paragraph or couple of sentences or lines from a book, report or poem), or it can be an entire quote itself (for example, a bumper sticker quote or a slogan). If quote you propose to use is not an extract from a longer work, but “stands alone” as a short phrase, it may be too small or unoriginal to be a “work”, and thus not protected by copyright. Under this heading fate of quotes used in research study or as news element shall be looked into. Basically the first part of the project shall observe whether or not you need permission to use quotes and extracts will generally depend on whether or not what you want to use is a “substantial part” of the work from which it comes. The concept of a “substantial part” is judged by whether or not what you want to use is important, essential or distinctive.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

After Mosley

Hugh Tomlinson discusses the way (or ways) forward after the ECHR ruling in the Max Mosley case. Meanwhile, court uses of so-called "superinjunctions" seem ineffective, since individuals tweet the banned information without mercy (or fear, apparently). The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are off on their honeymoon, but how much privacy can they expect, now or in the future?

May 11, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Microsoft Announces Plans To Buy Internet Phone Provider Skype

From, news that Microsoft plans to acquire Skype, the service that allows individuals to communicate via phone via the Internet. Some commentators are questioning the $8.5 billion price tag.

May 10, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ECHR Rules Against Max Mosley In Privacy Law Case

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that under the European Convention of Human Rights, no requirement of pre-notification exists for the media to notify a subject that they intend to publish information about his or her private life. Thus, Max Mosley has lost his suit against the U.K. in the ECHR. Said the Court in part:

 106.  It is clear that the words “the right to respect for ... private ... life” which appear in Article 8 require not only that the State refrain from interfering with private life but also entail certain positive obligations on the State to ensure effective enjoyment of this right by those within its jurisdiction (see Marckx v. Belgium, 13 June 1979, § 31, Series A no. 31). Such an obligation may require the adoption of positive measures designed to secure effective respect for private life even in the sphere of the relations of individuals between themselves (see Von Hannover v. Germany, no. 59320/00, § 57, ECHR 2004-VI; and Stubbings and Others v. the United Kingdom, 22 October 1996, § 61-62, Reports of Judgments and Decisions 1996-IV).

107.  The Court emphasises the importance of a prudent approach to the State’s positive obligations to protect private life in general and of the need to recognise the diversity of possible methods to secure its respect (Karakó v. Hungary, no. 39311/05, § 19, 28 April 2009). The choice of measures designed to secure compliance with that obligation in the sphere of the relations of individuals between themselves in principle falls within the Contracting States’ margin of appreciation (see, inter alia, X and Y v. the Netherlands, 26 March 1985, § 24, Series A no. 91; and Odièvre v. France [GC], no. 42326/98, § 46, ECHR 2003-III). However, this discretion goes hand in hand with European supervision (see, mutatis mutandis, Observer and Guardian v. the United Kingdom, 26 November 1991, § 59(c), Series A no. 216; and Lindon, Otchakovsky-Laurens and July v. France [GC], nos. 21279/02 and 36448/02, § 45, ECHR 2007-XI).

108.  The Court recalls that a number of factors must be taken into account when determining the breadth of the margin of appreciation to be accorded to the State in a case in which Article 8 of the Convention is engaged. First, the Court reiterates that the notion of “respect” in Article 8 is not clear-cut, especially as far as the positive obligations inherent in that concept are concerned: bearing in mind the diversity of the practices followed and the situations obtaining in the Contracting States, the notion’s requirements will vary considerably from case to case (see Sheffield and Horsham v. the United Kingdom, 30 July 1998, § 52, Reports 1998-V). Thus Contracting Parties enjoy a wide margin of appreciation in determining the steps to be taken to ensure compliance with the Convention (see Handyside v. the United Kingdom, judgment of 7 December 1976, Series A no. 24, p. 22, § 48; Abdulaziz, Cabales and Balkandali v. the United Kingdom, 28 May 1985, § 67, Series A no. 94; Hatton and Others v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 36022/97, § 97, ECHR 2003-VIII; and Armonienė, cited above, § 38). In this regard, the Court recalls that by reason of their direct and continuous contact with the vital forces of their countries, the State authorities are, in principle, in a better position than the international judge to give an opinion on how best to secure the right to respect for private life within the domestic legal order (see, mutatis mutandis, Handyside, cited above, § 48; A, B and C v. Ireland [GC], no. 25579/05, § 232, 16 December 2010; and MGN Limited v. the United Kingdom, no. 39401/04, § 142, 18 January 2011).

109.  Second, the nature of the activities involved affects the scope of the margin of appreciation. The Court has previously noted that a serious interference with private life can arise where the state of domestic law conflicts with an important aspect of personal identity (see Christine Goodwin v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 28957/95, § 77, ECHR 2002-VI). Thus, in cases concerning Article 8, where a particularly important facet of an individual’s existence or identity is at stake, the margin allowed to the State is correspondingly narrowed (see Evans v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 6339/05, § 77, ECHR 2007-IV; and A, B and C v. Ireland [GC], cited above, § 232). The same is true where the activities at stake involve a most intimate aspect of private life (see, mutatis mutandis, Dudgeon v. the United Kingdom, 22 October 1981, § 52, Series A no. 45; and A.D.T. v. the United Kingdom, no. 35765/97, § 37, ECHR 2000-IX).

110.  Third, the existence or absence of a consensus across the Member States of the Council of Europe, either as to the relative importance of the interest at stake or as to the best means of protecting it, is also relevant to the extent of the margin of appreciation: where no consensus exists, the margin of appreciation afforded to States is generally a wide one (see Evans, cited above, § 77; X, Y and Z v. the United Kingdom, 22 April 1997, § 44, Reports 1997-II; and Dickson v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 44362/04, § 78, ECHR 2007-XIII). Similarly, any standards set out in applicable international instruments and reports are relevant to the interpretation of the guarantees of the Convention and in particular to the identification of any common European standard in the field (see Tănase v. Moldova [GC], no. 7/08, § 176, ECHR 2010-...).

111.  Finally, in cases where measures which an applicant claims are required pursuant to positive obligations under Article 8 would have an impact on freedom of expression, regard must be had to the fair balance that has to be struck between the competing rights and interests arising under Article 8 and Article 10 (see MGN Limited, cited above, § 142), rights which merit, in principle, equal respect (Hachette Filipacchi Associés (ICI PARIS) v. France, no. 12268/03, § 41, 23 July 2009; compare and contrast Sunday Times v. the United Kingdom (no. 1), 26 April 1979, § 65, Series A no. 30).

 ii.  Article 10

112.  The Court emphasises the pre-eminent role of the press in informing the public and imparting information and ideas on matters of public interest in a State governed by the rule of law (see Financial Times Ltd and Others v. the United Kingdom, no. 821/03, § 59, 15 December 2009; MGN Limited, cited above, § 141; and De Haes and Gijsels v. Belgium, 24 February 1997, § 37, Reports 1997-I). Not only does the press have the task of imparting such information and ideas but the public also has a right to receive them. Were it otherwise, the press would be unable to play its vital role of “public watchdog” (Observer and Guardian, cited above, § 59; Bladet Tromsø and Stensaas v. Norway [GC], no. 21980/93, § 62, ECHR 1999-III; Gutiérrez Suárez v. Spain, no. 16023/07, § 25, 1 June 2010; and MGN Limited, cited above, § 141).

113.  It is to be recalled that methods of objective and balanced reporting may vary considerably and that it is therefore not for this Court to substitute its own views for those of the press as to what technique of reporting should be adopted (see Jersild v. Denmark, 23 September 1994, § 31, Series A no. 298). However, editorial discretion is not unbounded. The press must not overstep the bounds set for, among other things, “the protection of ... the rights of others”, including the requirements of acting in good faith and on an accurate factual basis and of providing “reliable and precise” information in accordance with the ethics of journalism (see Pedersen and Baadsgaard v. Denmark [GC], no. 49017/99, § 78, ECHR 2004-X; Times Newspapers Ltd v. United Kingdom (nos. 1 and 2), no. 3002/03 and 23676/03, § 42, ECHR 2009-...; and MGN Limited, cited above, § 141).

114.  The Court also reiterates that there is a distinction to be drawn between reporting facts – even if controversial – capable of contributing to a debate of general public interest in a democratic society, and making tawdry allegations about an individual’s private life (see Armonienė, cited above, § 39). In respect of the former, the pre-eminent role of the press in a democracy and its duty to act as a “public watchdog” are important considerations in favour of a narrow construction of any limitations on freedom of expression. However, different considerations apply to press reports concentrating on sensational and, at times, lurid news, intended to titillate and entertain, which are aimed at satisfying the curiosity of a particular readership regarding aspects of a person’s strictly private life (Von Hannover, cited above, § 65; Hachette Filipacchi Associés (ICI PARIS), cited above, § 40; and MGN Limited, cited above, § 143). Such reporting does not attract the robust protection of Article 10 afforded to the press. As a consequence, in such cases, freedom of expression requires a more narrow interpretation (see Société Prisma Presse v. France (dec.), nos. 66910/01 and 71612/01, 1 July 2003; Von Hannover, cited above, § 66; Leempoel & S.A. ED. Ciné Revue v. Belgium, no. 64772/01, § 77, 9 November 2006; Hachette Filipacchi Associés (ICI PARIS), cited above, 40; and MGN Limited, cited above, § 143). While confirming the Article 10 right of members of the public to have access to a wide range of publications covering a variety of fields, the Court stresses that in assessing in the context of a particular publication whether there is a public interest which justifies an interference with the right to respect for private life, the focus must be on whether the publication is in the interest of the public and not whether the public might be interested in reading it.

115.  It is commonly acknowledged that the audiovisual media have often a much more immediate and powerful effect than the print media (see Jersild, cited above, § 31; and Peck v. the United Kingdom, no. 44647/98, § 62, ECHR 2003-I). Accordingly, although freedom of expression also extends to the publication of photographs, the Court recalls that this is an area in which the protection of the rights of others takes on particular importance, especially where the images contain very personal and intimate “information” about an individual or where they are taken on private premises and clandestinely through the use of secret recording devices (see Von Hannover, cited above, § 59; Hachette Filipacchi Associés (ICI PARIS), cited above, § 47; and MGN Limited, cited above, § 143). Factors relevant to the assessment of where the balance between the competing interests lies include the additional contribution made by the publication of the photos to a debate of general interest as well as the content of the photographs (see Krone Verlag GmbH & Co. KG v. Austria, no. 34315/96, § 37, 26 February 2002).

116.  The Court recalls that the nature and severity of any sanction imposed on the press in respect of a publication are relevant to any assessment of the proportionality of an interference with the right to freedom of expression (see, for example, Ceylan v. Turkey [GC], no. 23556/94, § 37, ECHR 1999-IV; Lešník v. Slovakia, no. 35640/97, § 63, ECHR 2003-IVl and Karsai v. Hungary, no. 5380/07, § 36, 1 December 2009). Thus the Court must exercise the utmost caution where measures taken or sanctions imposed by the national authorities are such as to dissuade the press from taking part in the discussion of matters of legitimate public concern (see Jersild, cited above, § 35; and Cumpǎnǎ and Mazǎre v. Romania [GC], no. 33348/96, § 111, ECHR 2004-XI).117.  Finally, the Court has emphasised that while Article 10 does not prohibit the imposition of prior restraints on publication, the dangers inherent in prior restraints are such that they call for the most careful scrutiny on the part of the Court. This is especially so as far as the press is concerned, for news is a perishable commodity and to delay its publication, even for a short period, may well deprive it of all its value and interest (see Observer and Guardian, cited above, § 60). The Court would, however, observe that prior restraints may be more readily justified in cases which demonstrate no pressing need for immediate publication and in which there is no obvious contribution to a debate of general public interest.

More from the Daily Telegraph here and the Guardian here. Good discussion here by Hugh Tomlinson at Inform's Blog. Link to the webcast of the hearing, January 11, 2011.

Read the entire ruling here.

May 10, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Embarrassing Photos of William's In-Laws Turn Up, Are Taken Out of Circulation

The Middletons, Prince William's new in-laws, are learning very quickly what being a public figure means. Apparently embarrassing photographs of Princess Catherine's sister Pippa and brother James have turned up in the hands of U.S. media, and persons acting for the Middletons moved quickly to minimize the damage. Friends of the two younger Middletons took the photos several years ago and are assumed to have sold the pix to the media outlets. Mrs. Middleton, who has said she doesn't consider herself to be a "celebrity" also says she doesn't want to be one.

May 9, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More On Phone-Hacking

Simon Chesterman, New York University, School of Law, Singapore Programme, and National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law, has published Phone-Hacking, Muck-Raking, and the Future of Surveillance on the OUPblog: Oxford University Press's Academic Insights for the Thinking World, February 2011. Here is the abstract.

The ongoing police investigation into phone-hacking in Britain by the tabloid News of the World has revealed the widespread use of surveillance techniques by private actors, with predictable outrage expressed at the violations of privacy. Yet the recent inquiries only began in earnest after a major story in the New York Times. 

This is the paradox of today’s media: investigative journalism is often key to revealing abuses of surveillance powers, yet the commercial reality of today's market drives unscrupulous journalists themselves towards ever more dubious methods. 

That market has been radically altered by the "new media", with WikiLeaks as its poster-child - ably exploiting the Internet's capacity for widespread dissemination of data, but at the expense of credible efforts at analysis or minimizing the potential harm to named individuals. It is "journalism" by quantity rather than quality. 

These two trends - muck-raking and unfiltered dissemination - become all the more serious when linked to the extraordinary tools of surveillance available to government and, increasingly, private actors.

Download the post from SSRN at the link.

May 9, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Protecting High School Journalism Advisors From Retaliation

Tyler J. Buller is publishing Subtle Censorship: The Problem of Retaliation Against High School Journalism Advisers and Three Ways to Stop It in the Journal of Law & Education. Here is the abstract.

This Article explores whether the problem of retaliation against high school journalism advisers is best addressed through courts, local school boards or state legislatures. Student journalists across the United States are threatened by a new, more-subtle form of censorship. Instead of principals cutting articles out of student newspapers or threatening expulsion for controversial editorials, student journalists’ most-trusted confidant and ally – their journalism adviser – is under fire, facing retaliation by school officials through discipline, reassignment, and even termination. This retaliation exploits a loophole in student journalists’ protections, resulting in indirect censorship and the chilling of student speech. After comparing the alternatives, this Article advocates that the best path to ending retaliation against journalism advisers is through state legislatures adopting statutes that prohibit adviser-retaliation, grant students a cause of action, and require local school districts to adopt consistent policies protecting student publications.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

May 9, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sony's Howard Stringer Explains Playstation Breach, Asks For Forgiveness

Sony's Howard Stringer has posted a letter on the company's website to its customers explaining the delay in accounting for Sony's lack of response for failure to address lack of service and data breach after a recent DNS attack (WSJ article). Mr. Stringer says in part that the company has devoted many resources to checking into the nature of the attack and breach and assures users that as yet no evidence has emerged that any user's credit card information has been "misused." He then explains details of a "Welcome Back" package and a $1 million identity theft insurance policy. He also explains that the company is working with law enforcement to identify the hacker(s). Sony has gotten a mix of responses on the site. Meanwhile, a law firm has already filed a lawsuit, and a House Subcommittee Panel, chaired by Mary Bono Mack has held a hearing. Link here.


May 8, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)