November 10, 2012
BBC Director General Steps Down
CNN is reporting that the Director General of the BBC, George Entwhistle, is stepping down, and taking responsibility for erroneous information in a report the BBC broadcast concerning sex abuse allegations during the BBC's well-known NewsNight program. The misinformation seems to have resulted partly from a mixup in identification by a sexual abuse victim who has come forward recently. He has already apologized to the BBC; his apology was read over the air. More here from CNN.
Mr. Entwhistle's resignation is one in a series of black eyes for the BBC, which has suffered a great deal of bad publicity over the past few years, from the "Blue Peter" "phone in scandal" to questions over how a documentary on the Queen was edited. Former BBC Director General Mark Thompson, now in charge at the New York Times, also may face questions about dropped coverage of a BBC investigation into a BBC host, now deceased, who was also accused of sexual abuse.
November 8, 2012
The Supreme Court and the Fourth Estate Since 2000
Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, University of Florida College of Law, is publishing Not a Free Press Court? in the Brigham Young University Law Review (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
The last decade has been tumultuous for print and broadcast media. Daily newspaper circulation continues to fall precipitously, magazines struggle to survive, and network television audiences keep shrinking. In the meanwhile, cable news is prospering, mobile devices are contributing to increased news consumption, and many new media outlets appear to be thriving. Despite the dynamism in the media industry, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has taken up relatively few First Amendment cases directly involving the media. The Court has addressed a number of important free speech cases since 2005, but thus far the only Roberts Court decisions directly involving the traditional media are the two decisions in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, both of which avoided the looming First Amendment issue they contained, and the only decision involving new media is Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Ass’n. This essay, taking its cue from Erwin Chemerinsky’s recent lecture, Not a Free Speech Court, attempts to read the jurisprudential tea leaves to determine what lines of argument the media might use and how they might fare in future cases before the Roberts Court. Though the evidence is scanty, the Roberts Court appears committed to protecting unpopular speech, limiting the spread of “medium-specific” First Amendment doctrines to new media, and broadly defining speech of public concern. As far as the media are concerned, however, this good news may be overshadowed by the bad. Not only has the Court sidestepped two opportunities to free broadcast media from the FCC’s content-based regulatory oversight, but, what is worse, the Court appears to see the “Fourth Estate” as little more than a slogan media corporations bandy about to further their selfish interests. In light of these observations, perhaps the media should be grateful that the Roberts Court has addressed few cases directly involving them and should hope the trend continues.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
November 7, 2012
FCC Chair Issues Statement On AT&T Investment In Broadband Networks
From the FCC:
“AT&T’s announcement of billions of dollars in new investment in wired and wireless broadband networks is proof positive that the climate for investment and innovation in the U.S. communications sector is healthy. Today’s announcement adds to nearly $200 billion of investment in wireless and wireline broadband networks since 2009, and powerful growth in the Internet economy. “As our National Broadband Plan said, extending wired and wireless broadband across America is the ‘great infrastructure challenge of the 21st century’. America’s 21st century economy and our global leadership depend on meeting this challenge. Through our groundbreaking steps to free up spectrum, our once-in-a-generation overhaul of Universal Service, our phase-down of the byzantine and outdated intercarrier compensation system, our Broadband Acceleration Initiative and numerous other actions, we’ve taken major strides to promote private investment in broadband networks. “AT&T has also filed a petition with the FCC today suggesting issues to consider in our ongoing work to modernize our rules for the evolving communications market. As we review AT&T's filing, we will focus on the principles that have guided our actions since I became Chairman: driving the virtuous cycle of private investment and innovation in the broadband ecosystem, promoting competition, and protecting consumers.”
-FCC- News about the Federal Communications Commission can also be found on the Commission’s web site www.fcc.gov.
Faulkner Estate Sues Over Use Of Quote In Woody Allen Film
The William Faulkner estate is suing over the use of the famous quotation "The past is never dead. It's not even past" in Woody Allen's film Midnight in Paris. As spoken by Owen Wilson's character, it comes out as "The past is not dead. Actually, it's not even past." Nevertheless, estate executor Lee Caplin says the dispute isn't dead, and isn't past, over whether people can quote even just two lines from Faulkner's "Requiem For a Nun," or anything else. Here's a link to a rundown of the issues, as well as some commentary from legal experts, from CNN.
In a second lawsuit, the estate also sued the Washington Post and Northrup Grumman over the use of Faulkner material that appeared in an ad. More here in the Hollywood Reporter.
November 6, 2012
Right of Publicity, Identity, and Performance
K. J. Greene, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, has published Right of Publicity, Identity, and Performance at 28 Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal 865 (2012).
This essay sketches out the impact of right of publicity law on black cultural production. More concretely, it considers consider the implications of publicity law for black artists, and what help, if any, publicity rights offer to the problem of under-protection of performance rights. The right of publicity protects against unauthorized appropriation of a person's name, likeness, portrait, picture, voice and other indicia of identity or persona. This essay focuses on the issue of performance rights, or lack thereof, for artists generally and black artists in particular. Like other Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), the right of publicity has the potential to shrink both the public domain and the marketplace of ideas, thus preventing the dissemination of informational and creative works. Standard practice when writing an article about the right of publicity is to note the intense criticism the right engenders in the academic literature. Not wishing to miss 'the fun,' this is the author's third article on publicity rights, after vowing publicly never to write in the area. As is common among IP scholars, the author has argued elsewhere that IPRs have expanded, and has targeted the right of publicity for particularly harsh treatment.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.