Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, January 16, 2015

Loyola Law School (Los Angeles) Journalist Law School Program Accepting Applications For Summer 2015

The Civil Justice Program at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles will host its 10th-annual Journalist Law School from Wednesday, May 27-Saturday, May 30, 2015 on its Frank Gehry-designed campus in downtown Los Angeles. The application deadline is Monday, Feb. 16. The application and details are available at

The fellowship condenses core law-school subjects and break-out topics into a long weekend filled with courses taught by Loyola Law School faculty, practicing attorneys and judges. Journalists with at least three years of experience who cover the law in some fashion are encouraged to apply. Journalist fellows, who are competitively selected, receive a certificate of completion at the end of the four-day program. JLS alumni include almost 350 reporters, editors and producers from a wide range of local, national and international news organizations.

There is no cost to journalists to attend the fellowship. Instruction, lodging and most meals are included. And the Journalist Law School will cover half of travel expenses up to $300. Fellows will be housed at the nearby Hilton Checkers Los Angeles.

See for more information and to apply. Direct questions about the program to Brian Costello at or 213-736-1444 (o).

January 16, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Risen No Longer a Witness in Sterling Case

New York Times reporter James Risen will not be testifying after all in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, according to A. G. Eric Holder.  Mr. Risen has steadfastly maintained he would not reveal the source that disclosed information which he later revealed in his book State of War. The government subpoened him and he took the fight to quash the subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court, a fight which he lost. However, the government has not insisted that he reveal his sources. Now, both sides have dropped him as a witness in the case. More here from the NY Times. 

January 15, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Possible New Canadian Criminal Offense: "Terrorism Glorification"

Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, and Kent Roach, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, have published Terrorist Babble & the Limits of Law: Assessing a Prospective Canadian Terrorism Glorification Offence. Here is the abstract.

Since 2007, the Canadian government has repeatedly expressed interest in a terrorism ‘glorification’ offence, responding to internet materials regarded by officials as terrorist propaganda and as promoting ‘radicalization’. In the wake of the October 2014 attacks, this idea clearly remains on the government’s shortlist of responses. This article addresses the merits of such a criminal offence. It include analyses of: the sociological data concerning ‘radicalization’ and ‘radicalization to violence’; existing offences that apply to speech associated with terrorism; comparative experience with glorification crimes; and, the restraints that the Charter would place on any similar Canadian law. We conclude that a glorification offence would be ill-suited to Canada’s social and legal environment. This is especially true for Charter purposes, given the less restrictive alternative of applying existing terrorism and other criminal offences to hate speech and speech that incites, threatens or facilitates terrorism. We are also concerned that new glorification offences could have counter-productive practical public safety effects. Instead, we recommend modest amendments to the existing criminal law allowing the government to respond effectively to speech that is already criminal under existing Canadian terrorism or other criminal offences. Specifically, we favour a carefully constructed means of deleting (or at least ‘hiding’) the most dangerous forms of already criminal internet speech.

January 15, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The "Private Open Forum" and Online Speech

Steven R. Morrison, University of North Dakota School of Law, has published Private Open Forums.

Traditional public forums for the exercise of First Amendment rights are vanishing for four reasons: communication has migrated online, where private actors control digital spaces; private actors readily censor their forums, either for profit or at the government’s behest; public forums can be “privatized” for certain events, which permit organizers to engage in viewpoint exclusion; and the list of public forums, which the Supreme Court is loathe to expand, has never been a long one.

This is a problem because the expression of First Amendment rights cannot exist in isolation, but has effect only in a larger system of interacting rights. When an individual speaks, a hearer listens, often at an organization’s event. Local press may be covering the speech, and listeners may be there in person, or tune in by television, radio, or the Internet. The legal status of the forum matters greatly because it facilitates all of these interconnected instances of First Amendment activity.

This Article responds to the constitutional crisis entailed in vanishing traditional public forums and their persistent importance to First Amendment interests. It does so by proposing a “Private Open Forums” doctrine. A Private Open Forum is any space (digital, physical, or otherwise) that is privately owned; substantially open to the public; substantially non-selective/non-discriminatory; functions primarily to facilitate users’ First Amendment activities; and intended to facilitate those activities. I argue that operators of Private Open Forums constitutionally have and normatively should have the free-standing First Amendment right to maintain their forums and facilitate users’ First Amendment activities, as well as standing to defend their users’ First Amendment rights exercised on the forum.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

January 15, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Viral Advertising and Copyright Law

Kris Erickson, University of Glasgow, has published Copyright and Viral Advertising in Participatory Culture.

This chapter first offers an introduction to current theory on viral advertising from literature in sociology and communication, exploring the contradictory status of the viral advertisement as a media form. The three principal differentiating characteristics of the viral video compared with other forms of advertising are its aesthetic, its ambiguous authorship, and its distribution logic. Second, the chapter examines each of these characteristics in relation to copyright law, identifying aspects of the viral media form which are in tension with existing intellectual property law. The chapter closes by suggesting that legal scholars pay much greater attention to the status of viral advertisement in debates about the ‘future of copyright’ in the digital age. Viral advertisements represent one potential alignment of commercial interest and the interests of online communities. The development of this relationship has depended on the willingness of copyright owners to tolerate uses of the work beyond their control.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

January 15, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Copyright Law and Performance

Luke McDonah, Cariff University, has published Plays, Performances and Power Struggles - Examining Copyright's 'Integrity' in the Field of Theatre at 77 Modern Law Review 533 (2014). Here is the abstract.

This article explores the notion of ‘integrity’ under copyright law by analysing examples of 'integrity based objections' in the field of theatre. These objections typically involve playwrights objecting to changes being made to their copyright works by other parties, such as directors and actors. This analysis is deepened by the use of two concepts from the field of art theory – ‘aura’, as put forward by Walter Benjamin, and ‘trajectory’, as outlined by Bruno Latour and Adam Lowe. Finally, to shed further light on the issues raised, the work of Pierre Bourdieu is used to present new empirical research recently undertaken by the author in the field of UK theatre. This research demonstrates that ‘power struggles’ are a common feature of theatrical collaboration; that copyright is deeply implicated in the way such power struggles are conceived; and moreover, that resolving these power struggles successfully – including taking account of ‘integrity-based objections’ – is crucial to theatrical practice.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

January 13, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Mandatory Tariffs In the Canadian Copyright Scheme

Ariel Katz, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, has published Spectre: Canadian Copyright and the Mandatory Tariff. Here is the abstract.

Canadian copyright collectives claim that when the Board certifies collectives’ tariffs (or fixes the royalties in individual cases pursuant to statutory arbitration proceedings), those tariffs become mandatory on users. Users then have no choice whether to deal with the collective or not, and must pay the specified royalties as long as they make a single unauthorized use of a work from the collective’s repertoire. Many users, with very little protest, have also subscribed to this view, despite its extraordinary consequences.

This article argues that this spectre of a mandatory tariff lacks any basis in law. Established case law debunks it, standard principles of statutory interpretation contradict it, and the legislative history discredits it. The statutory scheme is very simple: an approved tariff creates a compulsory licence that interested users can avail themselves of if they wish to obtain a licence, but it cannot force users to become licensees. It is compulsory on copyright owners, not on users. Users who do not wish to obtain licences when they need them may be liable for copyright infringement, and maybe ordered to pay damages or account for their profit, but they cannot be compelled to pay royalties under a licence that they have never taken.

Whether this apparently esoteric copyright question proves to be a spectre or a bluff may determine whether users can in fact exercise their rights under the Copyright Act or must nonetheless still deal with, be monitored by, and pay ever-increasing layers of tariff royalties to, copyright collectives.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

January 13, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Anonymous Says It Will Attack Terrorist WebSites

Announcing that it is retaliating in cyberspace for the terrorist attacks on CharlieHebdo's officers, the hacker group Anonymous says it has redirected the domain name for the jihadist site to the search engine Duck Duck Go.  The group indicated it plans to continue its attacks on other jihadist websites. More here from CNN, here from Anonymous in a video posted on YouTube.


January 12, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Le monde est Charlie

From the Washington Post: cartoonists on the Charlie Hebdo massacre.  Reaction generally from Le Point here and HuffPo Le Bon Lien here.  Musicians express solidarity here.



January 9, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Responding To Internet Hate Speech

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, University of Hull, has published Countering Hate on the Internet at 22 Annual Review of Law and Ethics 431 (2014). Here is the abstract.

Hate speech is designed to threaten certain groups publicly and act as propaganda for offline organizations. Hate groups use websites to share ideology and propaganda, to link to similar sites and to recruit new converts, advocate violence and to threat others. The aim of this paper is to analyse the ways hate mongers are utilizing the Internet, and to ask what can be done to counter their activities. The paper discusses the targets of hate on the Internet and offers practical proposals to address this increasing problem and fight against it.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

January 9, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Updates on the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo here, from the Telegraph, from the New York Times, and from the Omaha Herald, noting that the Twitter hashtag JeSuisCharlie now represents solidarity with the magazine, with the French people, and with free speech. 

January 7, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Terrorists Attack Charlie Hebdo Offices; Kill Twelve; Manhunt Underway

Around noon today at least two heavily armed attackers, possibly masked, entered the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and shot and killed 10 journalists. Charlie Hebdo has been targeted for several years by fundamentalist Muslim groups because it republished the famous cartoons originally created by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, and it continues to publish satirical cartoons on the subject of extremism.

The gunmen also killed two police officers. Paris law enforcement is now engaged in a city-wide man hunt for the perpetrators. French President Francois Hollande has vowed that the nation will capture those who carried out the terrorist attack.

The BBC is updating its coverage here.

Additional coverage here from (with video), here from Le Monde.













January 7, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)



January 7, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Roy Greenslade On the Prince Andrew Story

Roy Greenslade on the Duke of York /Jeffrey Epstein story: Mr. Greenslade suggests that even though much of the issue is newsworthy, the British media might want to proceed with caution.

January 6, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Risen Testifies In Sterling Case

The New York Times reports on the content of James Risen's testimony at Jeffrey Sterling's trial. Mr. Sterling, formerly a CIA analyst, is accused of having given Mr. Risen classified information which Mr. Risen then used in his book, State of War.  Mr. Risen's appearance in court follows a lengthy battle over a Justice Department subpoena issued to him in 2008.

January 6, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Copyright Law and Comics

A clever new project from the Duke Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain: Copyright law through comic books.

Thanks to Gordon Firemark for the link.

January 2, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Egyptian Appellate Court Orders Retrial For Three al-Jazeera Journalists.

Australian reporter Peter Greste and two al-Jazeera colleagues will be getting retrials as a result of an Egyptian appellate court order. The three were convicted last year of false reporting.  More coverage here from the Guardian.

January 2, 2015 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BBC Delays Program On Royals After Contact From Lawyers

The BBC has decided to delay broadcast of a two part documentary, Reinventing the Royals, after attorneys for "senior royals," presumably the Prince of Wales and his wife, contacted the network with concerns about the program's content. The documentary takes a look at the way the Prince of Wales and his PR team handled criticism of his behavior after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. More here from The Hollywood Reporter, here from the Daily Mail.

December 30, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A New Publication On French Copyright Law

Of interest:  a new publication by Brad Spitz, The Guide to Copyright in France. Business, Internet, and Litigation (Wolters, Kluwer, 2014). 

December 25, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Scots Wha' Hae!

From across the pond, news that a tuxedo cat is striking a blow for feline rights. Jordan, a media-savvy (read his thoughts on life, the Universe and everything here on his Facebook page here) and intellectually curious kitty who lives at the nearby Catholic chaplaincy, has been hanging out at the Edinburgh University library for years. Now he has finally scored a library card.  Why not? Why should the library only be open to those formally enrolled? Democracy holds that the pleasures of learning should be available to all! University staff and students say Big Cat on Campus Jordan is very popular, and helps to de-stress the atmosphere around exam time. He still goes home for meals, however. 

December 19, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)