August 9, 2012
Elton John Sues Times of London For Libel
Singer Elton John is suing the Times of London for libel over an article that links him to what the paper says is a "scheme" that allows wealthy individuals to move cash to accounts outside Britain in order to avoid paying taxes. The Times has already had to correct its article twice. One correction explained that the man the Times identified as Sir Elton's accountant has never in fact been employed by him in that capacity.
Sir Elton and his lawyers have alleged that the Times's apology over the errors do not have the same effect as the original article. The Times has asked a court to determine whether the original article has a defamatory meaning. More here from the Guardian and here from the Unruly of Law.
August 8, 2012
Video Content and New Platforms
Rob Frieden, Pennsylvania State University College of Communications and Dickinson School of Law has published Next Generation Television and the Migration from Channels to Platforms. Here is the abstract.
Consumers have access to an ever increasing inventory of video content choices as a result of technological innovations, more readily available broadband, new business plans, inexpensive high capacity storage and the Internet’s ability to serve as a single medium for a variety of previously standalone services delivered via different channels. Access to video content is becoming a matter of using one of several software-configured interfaces capable of delivering live and recorded content anytime, anywhere, to any device and via many different transmission and presentation formats. This means that content creators and packagers can no longer rely on a single linear model of program delivery that locks viewers to channel-based distribution technologies. Instead consumers increasingly expect to have access at their convenience and on more flexible terms and conditions.
Platform access offers many legitimate, questionable and absolutely illegal opportunities to access both amateur and professional video content via the transmission of video files for subsequent replay, via real time streaming of files and even the retransmission of live programming, including pay television sporting events. Because of the great potential for piracy content providers and broadcast, satellite and cable intermediaries have grave concerns whether and how to provide new access options.
This paper will examine the ongoing migration from channels to software-configured platforms for accessing video content. It will assess strategies of both market entrants and incumbents to use technological innovations for acquiring, or maintaining market share. The paper also will consider whether incumbents may overcome competitive threats by devising new ways to lock down content and prevent consumers from fully exploiting new options, even for lawful content sharing and recording.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Comparing Freedom of Speech Protection and European Data Protection
David Erdos, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, has published Confused? Analysing the Scope of Freedom of Speech Protection vis-à-vis European Data Protection as an Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper. Here is the abstract.
This paper analyses the qualified derogations under the EU Data Protection (DP) framework made available for activities which are solely journalistic, literary or artistic (Directive 95/46/EC, Article 9). It is found that, notwithstanding the apparent breath of the European Court of Justice’s 2008 Satamedia judgment, the scope of this provision remains highly opaque and confused. This has led courts and regulators alike to find this ‘special purposes’ Article inapplicable when large databases of information are disseminated, when data is communicated to essentially privatized individuals, even if indeterminate in number, and when the processing includes a purpose other than journalism, literature and art. Since Member States have almost exclusively relied on this provision to reconcile Data Protection (DP) and free speech, a wide variety of expressive activity, including rating websites, mapping services, search engines, academic research, socio-political speech and social networking, are subject to onerous standards in the general data protection (DP) scheme. The ‘special purposes’ provision in the proposed European Data Protection Regulation (COM (2012) 11 Final) must be revised so as to clearly and explicitly protect all activities orientated to disseminating information, opinions or ideas for the benefit of the public collectively. In addition, Member States should deploy more limited derogations available in the interests of the ‘rights and freedoms of others’ to protect activities which merely, but importantly, facilitate public expression (for example, search engines) or which promote individual self-expression (for example, social networking). Nevertheless, to properly balance the competing values in this area, it is essential that such an expansion be coupled with measures specifying in a more unambiguous fashion the requirement that all derogations be truly proportionate in relation to the various rights and interests involved.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Twitter Complies With Court Order To Turn Over Account Information On NY Theater Threats
Twitter has complied with a court order to turn over information after repeated tweets surfaced from an account holder concerning Mike Tyson's one-man show. The tweets strongly suggested that the sender would imitate the recent deadly shootings in Aurora, Colorado. Twitter execs had earlier refused a request from the NYPD to turn over the information. More here from the New York Times, here from CBS this morning.
August 7, 2012
Wikileaks and the First Amendment: A Response
Christina E. Wells, University of Missouri School of Law, is publishing Contextualizing Disclosure’s Effects: Wikileaks, Balancing and the First Amendment in the Iowa Law Review Bulletin (forthcoming).
This essay responds to Professor Fenster’s article in the Iowa Law Review, Disclosure’s Effects: WikiLeaks and Transparency, assessing the effects of the recent WikiLeaks disclosures. The essay agrees with many of Professor Fenster’s conclusions regarding the promise and peril of those disclosures, especially his concern regarding the problematic balancing approaches used to assess the likely impact when confidential information is revealed. It specifically elaborates on courts’ current application of the Espionage Act, a criminal law likely to be applied to the WikiLeaks disclosures, and the implications of that deferential application for WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and journalists in general.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
RCFP Names New Executive Director
Former journalist Bruce Brown, now with Baker & Hostetler, is the newly named executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
August 6, 2012
Director of UNO Press Loses Position
Budget cuts have struck at yet another university press. Bill Lavender, the director of the University of New Orleans Press, is gone from that position--he was the only employee and ran the Press with the assistance of graduate students, according to this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Whether the Press will continue to publish is unclear. More here from the Times-Picayune.
FCC Adopts Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Re Cable Industry Transition to Digital Transmission Systems
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted (link to PDF) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to modernize and reform its cable television technical rules, facilitating the cable industry’s widespread transition from analog to digital transmission systems. The proposed rules reflect the Commission’s ongoing commitment to regulatory reform and will permit the industry to utilize their existing spectrum more efficiently, while also ensuring good quality signals for digital cable customers and will protect against digital signal leakage. The NPRM proposes to update the Commission’s signal quality rules, which were established when analog technology was predominant and digital technology was nascent. The proposed revision will streamline compliance for operators of digital cable systems. The NPRM also proposes to modernize the Commission’s cable signal leakage rules that were also designed with analog systems in mind. The proposed revision will protect the spectrum used for aeronautical communication and navigation services from interference by cable signal leaks, while enabling digital operators to more efficiently use their systems. Finally, the NPRM proposes a number of minor technical revisions, and seeks comment on any other technical changes necessary to bring the Commission’s cable rules into the 21st century. Action by the Commission August 3, 2012, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 12-86). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners McDowell, Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai. Separate statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners McDowell, Clyburn, Rosenworcel and Pai. MB Docket No. 12-217. For further information, contact Jeffrey Neumann (202-418-7000; firstname.lastname@example.org). Press contact: Janice Wise (202-418-8165; email@example.com). Links to docs here.