Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, January 18, 2013

International Jurisdiction and IP In the Cloud

Toshiyuki Kono and Paulius Jurcys, both of Kyushu University, Graduate School of Law, have published International Jurisdiction over Copyright Infringements in the Cloud. Here is the abstract.

The emergence of the Internet, and more recently cloud computing, has tremendous technological, economic, social as well as cultural effects. Such technological development certainly affects legal framework and calls for careful assessment whether, and, if so how, the existing legal principles and doctrines should be adjusted. Despite the fact that cloud-based technologies have swiftly coated almost every aspect of communication, the discussion regarding its legal implications has been very fragmentary. This paper focuses on a rather specific aspect concerning the intersection of private international law and intellectual property rights in the cloud environment. Although the Internet is one of the most economically rewarding markets for the exploitation of the intellectual property, the ubiquity of the world wide web is also associated with a number of risks. One of the risks which should be considered by right holders and intermediaries operating in the digital environment concerns potential litigation over the exploitation of intellectual property rights before a court of a foreign state. In private international law terms, this risk is known as international jurisdiction: in disputes between the parties from different states or disputes involving foreign subject matter, which court should adjudicate the case? Under what conditions should a national court of one state exercise its jurisdiction and decide a multi-state dispute? National laws usually contain certain rules or principles which guide the courts in deciding whether the jurisdiction should be asserted or not (e.g., defendant’s residence or commitment tortious acts in the forum state). The exercise of jurisdiction in multi-state intellectual property disputes has been subject to great controversies. Even the most distinguished courts in various countries stumbled when dealing with intricate quandaries involving cross-border exploitation of intellectual property rights. The exercise of jurisdiction over multi-state disputes involving territorially limited intellectual property rights has become even more complex with the advancement of digital communication technologies. Some of the underlying difficulties are discussed in this chapter which starts with a short illustration how cloud computing affects the exploitation of intellectual property assets. This discussion is followed by a closer analysis of the main principles which are employed by the courts across the Atlantic in deciding when to assert jurisdiction over multi-state intellectual property disputes. The fourth section poses a more general question of whether the existing legal framework is apt for the disputes involving cloud-related controversies. Finally, the activities which have been conducted by a special Committee under the auspices of the International Law Association are discussed.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.


January 18, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The First Amendment and Society's Tolerance Of Objectionable Speech

Nicholas A. Primrose, Barry University School of Law, has published Has Society Become Tolerant of Further Infringement on First Amendment Rights? Here is the abstract.

The First Amendment was written as a general prohibition on infringement of certain rights. This paper focused mostly on freedom of speech that has religious undertones. Part I of this paper introduces the First Amendment, including some historic interpretation and understanding of why the First Amendment is important to our society. Part II of this paper focuses on what the author deems three important events that are shaping society's current view of the First Amendment. Part II discusses the current events of the Ground Zero Mosque, the Westboro Baptist Church protesting and subsequent actions, and the comments from Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy regarding same-sex marriage. The author analyzes these three events to discuss concerns over society becoming tolerant of infringement on the First Amendment. Part III of this paper discusses some considerations for society. The need to protect the 'marketplace of ideas' because that is what the First Amendent was designed to protect. FInally, the paper touches on how social media and new trends in speech should also protect the idea of open public discourse. Overall, reading this paper will give you an understanding of how even though we may disagree with some speech, protecting the open debate outweighs censoring speech.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

January 18, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Third Circuit Rules Pennsylvania Statute Does Not Infringe Media's FA Right To Gather News

The Third Circuit has affird a lower court's ruling that a Pennsylvania state law prohibiting the media from entering a polling place to "gather news" does not infringe on the First Amendment. In PG Publishing Company v. Aichele, decided January 15, 2013, the Court held that,

[while] Appellants are therefore correct in arguing that the First Amendment encompasses a right of access for news-gathering purposes....the press is [not] entitled to any greater protection under this right than is the general public. The Supreme Court's pronouncement on this issue is unequivocal: "[T]he First Amendment does not guarantee the press a constitutional right of special access to information not available to the public generally.".... Thus, while the First Amendment does protect Appellant's right of access to gather news, that right does not extend to all information.


Importantly, we do not address here limitations on access to a forum for speech purposes; indeed, we are not concerned here with expressive conduct or speech at all. ...Rather, our focus is on access to information.Thus, we do not believe that the traditional forum analysis is apposite here. If we were to apply such a framework, the government would be free to shut down nonpublic fora completely, thereby hiding any activities behind a veil of secrecy. It cannot be that the First Amendment would countenance such a course of action....

For this reason, we consider Appellant's citation to cases such as Munro, which focused on exit-polling, to be of little help. ...The analysis that these courts apply to laws curtailing exit-polling activities — i.e., the traditional forum analysis — is therefore distinct from what is necessary here.

Appellant also urges that the instant case should be evaluated under the rubric of a prior restraint. We disagree. While it is true that restricting access to information may work a prior restraint on speech... this principle is not unlimited. ...

For this reason, we distinguish those cases cited by Appellant that concern court orders prohibiting members of the press (and others) from contacting jurors. ... Here, the government is not restricting access to information per se; rather it is restricting access to a particular proceeding (i.e., the voting process that occurs inside polling places). Unlike the juror-interview cases, therefore, Appellant is free to contact voters and individuals working in a polling place in order to obtain information about the goings-on inside. There is no blanket gag order curtailing access to this information....

Instead, we find that the analysis in this case turns on the question of whether the source of information (here, access to the polling place) should be "available to members of the public generally." Thus, we must determine the proper analytical framework for evaluating this question. As the discussion below demonstrates, the matter here concerns information about government bodies, their processes, and their decisions. As such, our analysis of the public's right to access the source of this information turns on both historical and structural considerations. We must balance the interests of the government on the one hand and those of the press and public on the other.


The Supreme Court has suggested that the existence of a First Amendment right to gather news (i.e., the right of access to the source of information or a government process) is best evaluated via a balancing test. The necessity of such a test was first noted in Branzburg v. Hayes, where a reporter had claimed that testifying before a grand jury about confidential sources would violate his right to gather news. 


Having set the operative framework, the plurality then engaged in a balancing inquiry to determine which set of rights should prevail. In his concurrence, Justice Powell summarized the sentiment of the plurality and his own position: "The asserted claim to privilege should be judged on its facts by the striking of a proper balance between freedom of the press and the obligation of all citizens to give relevant testimony with respect to criminal conduct." 


Subsequently, the Court embarked on a similar balancing inquiry to uphold a California Department of Corrections regulation that prohibited the press and others from interviewing specific inmates. ... Prior to the enactment of the regulation in question, journalists "had virtually free access to interview any individual inmate" while non-press members of the public did not benefit from such an unrestricted visitation policy.... Journalists claimed that the new regulation, by limiting their news gathering activities, violated the First Amendment protections for freedom of the press. ...Holding that the press does not enjoy any greater constitutional protection than does the general public, the Court ultimately agreed with the prison administrators that the interest in preserving security in the prisons outweighed the press's right to gather news, partly based on the fact that the press had an alternative means of obtaining this information. ...

But while the opinions in Branzburg and Pell presented an ad hoc approach, the case of Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia suggested a more standardized framework for evaluating the right of access to information about government processes. ...In that case, reporters sought access to a courtroom that had been closed to the public to prevent undue dissemination of witness-related information, arguing that there were less restrictive means for ensuring a fair trial. The plurality reaffirmed the First Amendment's protection of the press and recognized that the First Amendment necessarily also "'prohibit[ed] government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.'" ...Finding that access to trials could not be "foreclosed arbitrarily," the Richmond Newspapers opinion suggested the framework for a more meaningful test on restrictions in nonpublic fora such as a courtroom. ...


The framework articulated in Richmond Newspapers asks us to consider whether a "'place and process have historically been open to the press and general public.'" ... This analysis begins with a review of historical practices associated with a particular place or process; this inquiry is objective. ... Thus, for example, in Capital Cities we held that "the relevant historic[al] practice in this case is not specifically that of Pennsylvania's [D.E.R.]" Id. Instead, after considering Richmond  [*42] Newspapers, Globe and Press-Enterprise, we held that "[i]n each of these cases, the Court looked not to the practice of the specific public institution involved, but rather to whether the particular type of government proceeding had historically been open in our free society." Id. (emphasis added).


The Richmond Newspapers framework also tasks us with considering "whether public access plays a significant positive role in the functioning of the particular process in question." 


In the case before us, we begin by noting the rather obvious fact that openness of the voting process helps prevent election fraud, voter intimidation, and various other kinds of electoral evils. ...Of course, in situations where the press is not geographically far removed from the proceedings anyway, the benefits of additional oversight are inversely proportional to the distance of the press. The situation in Pennsylvania is a fine example: The press (like the general public) is only 10 feet away from the polling place, and we have no tangible or discernible evidence of how the public good would benefit so much more from the press being inside the room, rather than several paces away.


 We agree that openness in a situation where new legislation is being implemented or tested would generally serve the public good. It implicates several of the broad categories recognized in Simone, including the "promotion of informed discussion of governmental affairs by providing the public with [a] more complete understanding of the [proceeding]."


We therefore consider this as a factor weighing in favor of satisfying the "logic" prong.

The experience and logic test requires that we also examine the potential dangers inherent in openness. Of greatest concern to us is that access for one is access for all. While Appellant urges that its reporters should be permitted to access the polling place for purposes of gathering news, there is no constitutionally valid way of limiting the right of access only to Appellant. Finding a right of access for one member of the press necessarily means that all other members of the press must or should share in that right.

This brings us to the next concern, raised at oral argument: Who is a member of the press? Even if we were inclined to find a special First Amendment right for the press in this case (which we explicitly refuse to do), the class of persons to whom such a right is applicable is almost boundless. Counsel for Appellant could not divine a way to confine the potential beneficiaries of a ruling in its favor.

Moreover, there is a very real possibility that the presence of reporters during the sign-in period, when individuals are necessarily exchanging personal information in preparation for casting a private vote, could concern, intimidate or even turn away potential voters.

On balance then, we find the "logic" prong of this inquiry disfavors finding a constitutionally protected right of access to the voting process. We therefore find that both prongs of the "experience and logic" test militate against finding a right of access in this case. As in North Jersey, we note that while the Constitution does not provide protection under the First Amendment, "there is, as always, the powerful check of political accountability." 


Read the entire ruling here.

January 18, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

FCC Okays Liberty Media's Takeover of Sirius XM Radio

The FCC has issued an order, dated January 3, 2013, allowing Liberty Media to obtain control of Sirius XM. Here's an excerpt of the agency's ruling.


Pursuant to Section 310(d) of the Communications Act, n29 we must determine whether the applicants have demonstrated that the proposed transfer of control will serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity. In making this determination, we first assess whether the proposed transaction complies with the specific provisions of the Communications Act, other applicable statutes, and the Commission's rules. If the proposed transaction would not violate a statute or rule, we next consider whether it could result in public interest harms by substantially frustrating or impairing the objectives or implementation of the Communications Act or related statutes. We then employ a balancing test weighing any potential public interest harms of the proposed transaction against any potential public interest benefits. The Applicants bear the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the proposed transaction, on balance, will serve the public interest. Our public interest evaluation necessarily encompasses the "broad aims of the Communications Act," which include, among other things, a deeply rooted preference for preserving and enhancing competition in relevant markets, accelerating private sector deployment of advanced services, ensuring a diversity of license holdings, and generally managing spectrum in the public interest. Our public interest analysis may also entail assessing whether the merger will affect the quality of communications services or will result in the provision of new or additional services to consumers. Our competitive analysis, which forms an important part of the public interest evaluation, is informed by, but not limited to, traditional antitrust principles. The Commission considers whether a transaction will enhance, rather than merely preserve, existing competition, and examines potential and future competition and its impact on the relevant market.

Liberty Media does not currently provide any media distribution services that directly compete with the satellite radio services offered by Sirius, and thus the proposed transfer of de jure control to Liberty Media does not present any horizontal competition issues. To the extent that Liberty Media provides programming to terrestrial radio, for example, coverage of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, Liberty Media is unlikely to disadvantage terrestrial radio programmers by not providing or delaying Atlanta Braves programming to them given the order of magnitude of programming fees and franchise value at risk that would far outweigh profits that would flow to Liberty Media from increased Sirius subscriptions. Thus, we find that no substantial vertical concerns are raised by Liberty Media's programming interests. The Commission applies a "sliding scale approach" to evaluating public interest benefit claims. Under this approach, where potential harms appear "both substantial and likely, the Applicants' demonstration of claimed benefits also must reveal a higher degree of magnitude and likelihood than we would otherwise demand." On the other hand, where potential harms appear to be less likely or less substantial, as in this case, we will accept a lesser showing. n40 In this case, Liberty Media has not provided any evidence of specific benefits, instead relying upon the general economic benefits accruing from facilitating investment in FCC licensees and permitting investors to realize the full value of their investments. As we do not find substantial public interest harms with this proposed transaction, we find the general benefits that are likely to result from the transfer of control provide a sufficient basis to conclude that the transaction will serve the public interest.

Upon review of the Application and the record in the proceeding, we conclude that consent to the proposed transfer of control is in the public interest.

January 17, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Public Domain, Copyright Law, and Creativity

Graeme W. Austin, Victoria University of Wellington, has published Property on the Line: Life on the Frontier between Copyright and the Public Domain as Victoria University of Wellington Legal Research Paper No. 5/2013. Here is the abstract.

This article is an edited transcript of Professor Graeme W Austin’s Inaugural Lecture, delivered in the Council Chamber of Victoria University of Wellington on 15 November 2012. Professor Austin was appointed Chair in Private Law in the Faculty of Law in November 2010. This lecture explores claims that in copyright law, the public domain is necessarily in opposition to proprietary rights, and suggests that in many contexts the incentives offered by copyright contribute to the vibrancy and volume of material that is available for downstream creativity and innovation. Drawing on his earlier work on the relationship between human rights law, Professor Austin’s lecture advances the idea that cognisance of the human rights dimensions of intellectual property, including creators’ human rights, should inform conceptions of the property domain of copyright law. The lecture concluded with a warning against the “Walmartization” of copyright, according to which the only policy concern is lowering the price that consumers pay for copyright-protected material.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.



January 17, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reactions To News That Notre Dame Football Star's Girlfriend Doesn't Exist

The website Deadspin broke the news January 16 that star football player Manti Te’o's girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who seemed to be dying tragically of leukemia, is a complete fabrication. But who created the fiction of her relationship with Mr. Teo is unclear, as is the reason for that story. Notre Dame is standing by Mr. Teo, who told Notre Dame officials in December that the girlfriend whom he thought had died in September was in fact not dead and the story was more complicated than that. The media obviously continued to report the story through the bowl season. 

January 17, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

About Journalists and Open Records Requests

Robert S. Silverblatt has published Note: Hiding Behind Ivory Towers: Penalizing Schools That Improperly Invoke Student Privacy To Suppress Open Records Requests at 101 Georgetown Law Journal 493 (2012). 

January 15, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Arguments Over Press Freedom In China

A pseudonymous reporter for the New York Times gives us a glimpse of a debate over press restrictions in China.

January 15, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

US Movies and China's Legal Regime

From the New York Times: a discussion of the way in which Hollywood accommodates the censorship requirements of China's government in order to get US movies before that country's viewers.

January 15, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hate Speech In the Hungarian Legal Regime

Andras Koltay, Peter Pazmany Catholic University & Hungarian Academy of Sciences, has published Hate Speech and the Protection of Communities in the Hungarian Legal System. Here is the abstract.

The Hungarian notion “gyűlöletbeszéd” is a literal translation of the applicable terminology (hate speech) originally used in the United States of America. According to Gábor Halmai, “this type of communication includes acts of speech by which the speaker — usually driven by prejudice or even hatred — expresses his or her opinion of various racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual groups in society, or of the member of such groups, which opinion may insult the members of the given group and may incite hatred in society against that group.” According to the Recommendation by the Council of Europe, “the term ‘hate speech’ shall be understood as covering all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin.” The term “hate speech” itself is not used in legislation; for the purposes of written law, this term is covered by the crime of incitement against a community (Article 269 of the Criminal Code), supplemented by the crimes of the use of symbols of despotism (Article 269/B of the Criminal Code), public denial of the sins of the National Socialist (Nazi) and Communist systems (Article 269/C of the Criminal Code), and violation of national symbols [Article 269/A of the Criminal Code]. Of course, these crimes are not specific to the media, meaning that they may be committed by means other than via the media, but they constitute certain limitations to the freedom of the press. Furthermore, the Press Freedom Act lays down various provisions against hateful expressions.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.


January 14, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Greek Reporters Become Targets Of Bombs

From the New York Times: anger over the financial problems in Greece has apparently turned against journalists reporting on the problem. Five Greek reporters have been targeted by bombs recently. More here.

January 13, 2013 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)