Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Canada's Cyber-Surveillance Bill C-30 and the Fifth Estate

Jonathan A. Obar, University of Toronto, Faculty of Information, and Michigan State University, College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and Leslie Regan Shade, University of Toronto, Faculty of Information, have published Activating the Fifth Estate: Bill C-30 and the Digitally-Mediated Public Watchdog. Here is the abstract.

Operating outside the framework of traditional systems of governance and civic engagement, the digitally-mediated, networked society referred to as the ‘Fifth Estate’ presents the general public with a unique opportunity to reinvigorate the public watchdog role. While previous discussions of the Fifth Estate have emphasized that the communicative power it enables can help to hold government to account, specific strategies have yet to be clearly identified. This paper presents three strategies for activating a digitally-mediated Fifth Estate: 1) building an online community of networked individuals, 2) shaping pre-existing digital platforms to enable members of the public to contribute focused and pointed user-generated content, and 3) developing targeted content to be shared and distributed. These strategies are presented in the context of the successful media reform battle to defeat Canada’s Bill C-30, an attempt by the Canadian government to expand upon its cyber-surveillance capabilities. The Stop Online Spying Coalition is presented as an example of the first strategy; online petitions, digital form letters and the #TellVicEverything Twitter attack are among the examples of the second strategy; and’s Stop Online Spying web materials, various online videos and the Vikileaks Twitter attack are examples of the third strategy.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

September 2, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Being Under Uber

Delia Ephron discusses the pain of being rated by Uber, and what happens if Uber drivers rank you as an undesirable passenger here (from the New York Times). Ah, the reach of social media.

September 2, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ISIS and the Media

The New York Times discusses ISIS's use of media here.

September 2, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Another Look at the ECJ's "Right to be Forgotten" Ruling

Ioannis Iglezakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Law, Economics, and Political Sciences, has published The Right to Be Forgotten in the Google Spain Case (Case C-131/12): A Clear Victory for Data Protection or an Obstacle for the Internet?  Here is the abstract.


The right to be forgotten is a new right that is introduced in the Draft Proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation of 2012, which has been widely discussed. Critics, on the one hand, disagree with its necessity and hold the view that it represents the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet in the coming years. Viviane Reding, former EU Justice Commissioner and currently Vice-President of the EU Commission, on the other hand, describes this right as a modest expansion of existing data privacy rights. The Court of Justice of the EU with its decision of 13 May 2014 in case C-131/12 confirmed this view, interpreting the provisions of Directive 95/46/EEC in such a way as to include a right ‘to be forgotten’ on the Net. The case refers particularly to search engines and their obligation to remove links to web pages from their lists of results, following requests of data subjects on the grounds that information should no longer be linked to their name by means of such a list and taking into account that even initially lawful processing of accurate data may, in the course of time, become incompatible with the directive where those data are no longer necessary in the light of the purposes for which they were collected or processed. This ruling addresses only one aspect of the ‘right to be forgotten’, which concerns the role of Internet Intermediaries, but has wider implications that need to be examined.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

September 2, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

FCC Asks For Comments on Recommendations In Preparations For Next Year's World Radiocommunications Conference

US Reporter Released This Week Arrives Back Home

Peter Theo Curtis, a  U.S. journalist held for nearly two years by an extremist group in Syria and released a few days ago, has now returned to the United States.  The group holding him, the al-Nusra Front, apparently negotiated with the government of Qatar for his release.  Meanwhile, other Islamic extremist groups are still holding other journalists, including Steve Sotloff, whose mother pleaded for his release this week.

August 28, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The 2014/2015 Price Media Law Moot Court Program

News from the University of Oxford Price Media Law Moot Court Programme


Greetings from Oxford. We are delighted to announce the 2014-15 mooting calendar for the University of Oxford’s Price Media Law Moot Court Programme.  We do hope that you will be able to join us for one of the regional rounds or the international competition.   

  • South Asia Rounds in Delhi, in collaboration with the National Law University, Delhi: 20-23 November 2014
  • Asia Pacific Rounds in Beijing, in collaboration with Renmin University: 24-26 November 2014
  • South East Europe Rounds in Belgrade, in collaboration with the University of Belgrade: 5-7 December 2014
  • Americas Rounds in New York, in collaboration with the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania and Cardozo Law School: 28 January – 1 February 2015
  • Middle East Rounds in Cairo, in collaboration with Ain Shams University: 2-5  February 2015
  • International Rounds in Oxford: 24-27 March 2015

Oxford’s Price Moot Court Programme continues to go from strength to strength and offers a unique opportunity for students, faculty and judges to engage in cutting-edge debates on communications technology and law.  This year’s case focuses on highly contemporary issues around religion and free expression.

The Programme is an exciting opportunity for students and all those involved – either as a team coach, as a judge in the oral rounds, or as a seminar speaker – to be part of a global community of media and ICT law experts.  It offers a chance to debate contemporary issues in a comparative and practice-oriented perspective, and to begin or refine education and training in media law in a dynamic and diverse environment. 

For further details on the Programme, including the forthcoming seminars associated with the moots, please visit our website.

If you are unable to join us this year, please help by spreading the word about the competition among your friends and colleagues.  You can also join us on Facebook.

If you have any questions, please contact us at We look forward to seeing you soon!

Best wishes,


The Price Moot Court Administration

Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy

University of Oxford


August 28, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ACLU, Guardian, Oklahoma Observer File Lawsuit To Gain Access To Executions

The ACLU and ACLU of Oklahoma, the Guardian US, and the Oklahoma Observer have filed suit in the Western District of Oklahoma to obtain access to executions on the grounds that (in part) the public has the right to full information about such events to determine for itself whether executions are carried out properly and so that it may have confidence in the justice system. The organizations also assert that press has the right under the First Amendment to attend such executions to investigate and bring such information to the public. More here from the ACLU of Oklahoma, here from the Oklahoma Observer, here from the Washington Post.

August 27, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Time Warner Cable Service Down Nationwide In Early Morning Hours

Time Warner Cable says service to customers is well on the way to being restored after a large outage early this morning. The company said the outage affected markets nationwide. TWC, which is in the process of being acquired by Comcast, already suffers from customer complaints over its service. More here from CNN Money.

August 27, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Testimony of Annemarie Bridy Before the House Subcommittee On Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, March 13, 2014

Annemarie Bridy, Professor of Law at the University of Idaho College of Law, has published her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, which she gave on March 13, 2014. Here is the abstract.

This written testimony was prepared for presentation to the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet at its March 13, 2014 hearing on the safe harbor provisions in Section 512 of Title 17 of the Copyright Act. The hearing was held in the context of a comprehensive legislative review of the United States copyright system, which was announced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in April of 2013. Included with the text of the testimony are written responses to Questions for the Record (QFRs) posed after the hearing by Representatives Collins and Jeffries. The recorded hearing can be streamed from the website of the House Judiciary Committee.
Download the text from SSRN here.  Listen to the hearing here.

August 26, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

US Fair Use Principles and the Australian IP Regime

Dan Hunter, Queensland University of Technology, Faculty of Law, and New York Law School, has published American Lessons: Implementing Fair Use in Australia at 24 Australian Intellectual Property Journal 192 (2014). Here is the abstract.

This article discusses the recent Australian Law Reform Commission report proposing a fair use defense to copyright infringement in Australia. It examines the experience of fair use cases in the United States and draws three lessons from the jurisprudential history. First, it suggests that decisions in fair use can only really be understood within a theoretical framework, and that unless we import that framework into Australia any fair use defense will not work as expected. Secondly, the article argues that the area where fair use jurisprudence appears to be most helpful, in dealing with “transformative” works, is actually much more limited than outsiders to the US would expect. And finally, it suggests that any implementation of a factor related to market substitution should take account of the gaming of the system that has gone on in the US.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

August 26, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Network Neutrality and Tomorrow's Internet

Luca Belli, Independent, and Primavera De Filippi, Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas  2013, have published The Value of Network Neutrality for the Internet of Tomorrow. Here is the abstract.

The report explores some of the most crucial facets of Network Neutrality, underscoring its close relationship with the full enjoyment of end-users fundamental rights. The report also includes a proposal for a Model Framework on Network Neutrality that has been elaborated by the Dynamic Coalition through an open, inclusive and multi-stakeholder effort, in order to promote an efficient safeguard of the Net Neutrality principle in accordance with international human rights standards.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

August 26, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ancillary Copyright For News Publishers In the German Legal Regime

Christian Kersting and Sebastian Dworschak, both of Heinrich-Hein University, Duesseldorf Faculty of Law, have published Ancillary Copyright for News Publishers: Would Google Really Have to Pay? – A Competition Law Analysis in volume 46 of NZKart - Neue Zeitschrift für Kartellrecht (New Journal of Competition Law) (2013). Here is the abstract.

This paper is a translation of an earlier paper published in German: 2206868.
At the time the first paper was published, the ancillary copyright for news publishers had not yet been adopted by the German legislator. However, the conclusions drawn in both papers are still valid.
The introduction of an ancillary copyright for news publishers was intended to allow news publishers to prohibit search engines to display snippets of their content, which until then did not enjoy copyright protection. Even though the ancillary copyright for news publishers was adopted in 2013, it is uncertain whether the snippets displayed by search engines enjoy copyright protection. A well-founded opinion argues that snippets still do not enjoy copyright protection. If, however, snippets enjoyed copyright protection, search engines would need to either stop displaying such snippets or license them from the publishers. Using Google as an example, this article discusses the plausibility of a potential competition law obligation to index publishers' content and pay publishers if snippets appear on a search results page. We conclude this is not the case: Google can avoid paying for snippets by refraining from indexing and displaying this content.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.



August 26, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Copyright Interpretative Practices

Zahr Said, University of Washington School of Law, has published Reforming Copyright Interpretation. Here is the abstract.

This Article argues that copyright law needs to acknowledge and reform its interpretive choice regime. Even though judges face potentially outcome-determinative choices among competing sources of interpretive authority when they adjudicate copyrightable works, their selection of interpretive methods has been almost entirely overlooked by scholars and judges alike. This selection among competing interpretive methods demands that judges choose where to locate their own authority: in the work itself; in the context around the work, including its reception, or in the author’s intentions; in expert opinions; or in judicial intuition. Copyright’s interpretive choice regime controls questions of major importance for the parties, such as whether an issue is a matter of law or fact; whether an issue may be decided at summary judgment; whether expert testimony is allowed; and whether a use is fair or not (among multiple other doctrinal issues). Currently, the lack of transparency that characterizes copyright’s interpretive practices creates unpredictability and unfairness for the parties, because method selection often matters to outcomes. As a function of interpretive choice, works of art may escape destruction if found non-infringing (Cariou v. Prince); movies may get made, or languish as legal disputes get ironed out (Sheldon v. Metro-Goldwyn Pictures; Effie v. Murphy); novels may get banned, or declared a fair use (Salinger v. Colting; Suntrust v. Houghton-Mifflin); fan works may be threatened (RDR v. Warner Bros). Ultimately, understanding interpretive choice helps evaluate the proper allocation and scope of decisional authority, assist in the proper characterization of issues, and identify the best tools to use in copyright’s interpretive work. The Article concludes with a call for greater methodological transparency, and it offers a few modest prescriptions about which interpretive methods might be best adopted, by whom, when, and why. It proposes a rule-based, two-tiered approach to copyright adjudication, a process-based formalism that would constrain judicial discretion and could produce greater consistency and fairness.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

August 25, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Justice Stewart's Interpretation of the Press Clause

Keith J. Bybeee, Syracuse University College of Law, has published Justice Stewart Meets the Press. Here is the abstract.

Among the Supreme Court Justices who have articulated distinctive views of free expression, Justice Potter Stewart alone placed particular emphasis on the First Amendment's protection of a free press. Drawing upon the lessons of history, the plain language of the Constitution, the political events of his day, and his own personal experience, Stewart argued that the organized news media should be considered an essential part of the checks-and-balances competition between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government. Stewart’s emphasis on the special structural function of the established press placed him at odds with most of his colleagues on the Supreme Court. His thinking is also in tension with recent changes in the news media landscape. With the decline of newspapers and the rise of the blogosphere, the United States faces the prospect of enjoying a great deal of free speech and yet losing its free press, as Stewart understood the term.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

August 25, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Scotland Yard, The ISIS Video, and Terrorism

The UK's Metropolitan Police is warning individuals and social media users that sharing or even viewing the video of reporter James Foley's brutal execution could be grounds for prosecution under the UK's terrorism statute. However, while disseminating the video might be grounds for prosecution under the Terrorism Act of 2006, David Allen Green points out in a blog post that it's not so clear why viewing the video is grounds for prosecution. 

Below is the text defining "encouragement of terrorism."

(1)This section applies to a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to them to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism or Convention offences.

(2)A person commits an offence if—

(a)he publishes a statement to which this section applies or causes another to publish such a statement; and

(b)at the time he publishes it or causes it to be published, he—

(i)intends members of the public to be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate acts of terrorism or Convention offences; or

(ii)is reckless as to whether members of the public will be directly or indirectly encouraged or otherwise induced by the statement to commit, prepare or instigate such acts or offences.

Note that the text refers to statements that an individual publishes or causes to be published. It doesn't discuss viewing or reading (a text, for example).

Here is the text defining "dissemination of terrorist publications."

(1)A person commits an offence if he engages in conduct falling within subsection (2) and, at the time he does so—

(a)he intends an effect of his conduct to be a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducement to the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism;

(b)he intends an effect of his conduct to be the provision of assistance in the commission or preparation of such acts; or

(c)he is reckless as to whether his conduct has an effect mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b).

(2)For the purposes of this section a person engages in conduct falling within this subsection if he—

(a)distributes or circulates a terrorist publication;

(b)gives, sells or lends such a publication;

(c)offers such a publication for sale or loan;

(d)provides a service to others that enables them to obtain, read, listen to or look at such a publication, or to acquire it by means of a gift, sale or loan;

(e)transmits the contents of such a publication electronically; or

(f)has such a publication in his possession with a view to its becoming the subject of conduct falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (e).

 Again, nothing about "viewing" the material, only about distributing, circulating or making available the material, for profit or for free.

Meanwile, YouTube and Twitter are busy removing uploads of the video. 

More here from the Guardian. 

August 21, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

More Writers Object To Amazon Policies

A number of German writers have now joined the chorus protesting Amazon's policy promoting e-books, alleging that the online retailing giant delays or fails to promote the products of those authors whose publishers do not agree to Amazon's pricing policies. In an open letter released Monday, the writers, whose numbers include Nobel Prize for Literature winner Elfriede Jelinek, say that "`Amazon uses authors and their books as a bargaining chip to exact deeper discounts,'" and that Amazon misrepresents the availability of books to customers. More here from the New York Times.

August 21, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ISIS Kills US Journalist, Threatens Another Reporter

The U.S. government has confirmed that ISIS militants have murdered reporter James Foley, who disappeared in Syria nearly two years ago. President Barack Obama addressed the nation, saying that both the U.S. and the world are horrified at this event. ISIS forces claim that they also hold journalist Steven Sotloff, and say they will execute him as well if US forces do not cease their airstrikes against ISIS positions in northern Iraq. More here from the Huffington Post.

August 20, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ofcom Investigates the (UK) Gold Channel Over Live Monty Python Show

Ofcom, the UK broadcasting agency, is investigating complaints on two fronts about the recent live Monty Python show, which aired on the Gold Channel. Some viewers objected to the swearing broadcast before the watershed, saying there was too much of it. And some viewers objected to the paucity of swearing, saying there was too little, and howling about censorship. You can't please all of the people all of the time. More here from the Guardian.

August 19, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

British Police Officer Sentenced For Selling Info To Tabloid

The Guardian reports that Thomas Ridgeway, a Scotland Yard police officer, has been sentenced to one year in prison for for selling stories to the UK tabloid the Sun. The stories involved information about an actor who attempted suicide and police involved in sexual activity. Mr. Ridgeway's mother Sandra, who was involved in aiding and abetting, received an 18 week prison sentence and 26 weeks of probation. Mrs. Ridgeway received a payment of 1600 pounds and split the proceeds with her son. More here. Coverage here from the BBC.

August 19, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)