Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Disappearing Work: Copyright Law and Availability of eBooks, Used Books, and the Market

Paul J. Heal, University of Illinois College of Law, has published How Copyright Keeps Works Disappeared at 11 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 829 (2014). Here is the abstract.

A random sample of new books for sale on shows more books for sale from the 1880s than the 1980s. Why? This article presents new data on how copyright stifles the reappearance of works. First, a random sample of more than 2,000 new books for sale on is analyzed along with a random sample of almost 2,000 songs available on new DVDs. Copyright status correlates highly with absence from the Amazon shelf. Together with publishing business models, copyright law seems to deter distribution and diminish access. Further analysis of eBook markets, used books on, and the Chicago Public Library collection suggests that no alternative marketplace for out‐of‐print books has yet developed. Data from iTunes and YouTube, however, tell a different story for older hit songs. The much wider availability of old music in digital form may be explained by the differing holdings in two important cases, Boosey & Hawkes v. Disney (music) and Random House v. Rosetta Stone (books).
The full text is not available from SSRN.

November 4, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Goodbye, Tom: RIP

Tom Magliozzi, the older of the "Car Talk" guys, has died at the age of 77. He and his brother Ray had a popular show on NPR from 1987 to 2012. NPR reported his death in a story here. More here in a story at CNN. Car Talk has posted a remembrance here.

November 3, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Net Neutrality Rules In Various Regimes

Christopher Marsden, University of Sussex, has published Net Neutrality: Measuring the Problem, Assessing the Legal Risks, as IBEI Working Papers 2013/42 Telefonica Chair Series. Here is the abstract.

Network neutrality is a growing policy controversy. Traffic management techniques affect not only high-speed, high-money content, but by extension all other content too. Internet regulators and users may tolerate much more discrimination in the interests of innovation. For instance, in the absence of regulatory oversight, ISPs could use Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) to block some content altogether, if they decide it is not to the benefit of ISPs, copyright holders, parents or the government. ISP blocking is currently widespread in controlling spam email, and in some countries in blocking sexually graphic illegal images. In 1999 this led to scrutiny of foreclosure of Instant Messaging and video and cable-telephony horizontal merger. Fourteen years later, there were in 2013 net neutrality laws implemented in Slovenia, the Netherlands, Chile and Finland, regulation in the United States and Canada, co-regulation in Norway, and self-regulation in Japan, the United Kingdom and many other European countries. Both Germany and France in mid-2013 debated new net neutrality legislation, and the European Commission announced on 11 September 2013 that it would aim to introduce legislation in early 2014. This paper analyses these legal developments, and in particular the difficulty in assessing reasonable traffic management and ‘specialized’ (i.e. unregulated) faster services in both EU and US law. It also assesses net neutrality law against the international legal norms for user privacy and freedom of expression.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

November 3, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

BBC Nixes Green Party Participation In Debates

The BBC has refused to include Green Party candidates in three upcoming televised debates, on the grounds that the party does not have enough support among voters. The party has responded by launching requests that voters sign a petition on insisting that the Greens be allowed to participate.

The UK will hold a general election next year.

October 30, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Garcia v.Google and Related Rights

Jacob M. Victor, Yale University, Information Society Project, has published Garcia v. Google and a 'Related Rights' Alternative to Copyright in Acting Performances at 24 Yale Law Journal Forum 80 (2014). Here is the abstract.

A recent Ninth Circuit case, Garcia v. Google, held that an actor can maintain a copyright interest in her acting performance in a film — independent of the copyright held by the filmmaker — and that this copyright can sometimes be sufficiently powerful to allow the actor to prevent public dissemination of the film. The decision has been widely criticized for its interpretation of the Copyright Act, its First Amendment implications, and its potential economic impact on the film and television industries. But few have considered the point that “related rights” — an alternative form of intellectual property distinct from copyright and designed to protect performances and recordings — could provide a more effective way of balancing the many interests at stake in cases like Garcia. Related rights protection for acting performances is not currently available in the United States, although it is widely recognized under international law and in the laws of many European countries. This means that, under American law, acting performances must either be governed by conventional copyright law or receive no IP protection at all. By adding related rights protection to American law, Congress could stake out a middle ground between these two extremes and thus prevent quagmires like Garcia from emerging in the future.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

October 28, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

EU Copyright Law and Private Copying

João Pedro Quintais, University of Amsterdam, Institute for Information Law (IViR), and University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, is publishing Private Copying and Downloading from Unlawful Sources in the International Review of Intellectual Property and Competition Law (2015). Here is the abstract.

Private copying is one of the most contested areas of EU copyright law. This paper surveys that nebulous area and examines the issue of copies made from unlawful sources in light of the ECJ’s ACI Adam decision. After describing the legal background of copyright levies and the facts of the litigation, the paper scrutinizes the Advocate General’s Opinion and the Court’s decision. The latter is analyzed against the history of copyright levies, the ECJ’s extensive case-law on the private copying limitation and Member States’ regulation of unlawful sources. This paper further reflects on the decision’s implications for end-users, rights holders, collective management organizations and manufacturers/importers of levied goods. It concludes that, from a legal and economic standpoint, the decision not only fails to be properly justified, but its consequences will likely diverge from those anticipated by the Court. Most worrisome is the Court’s stance on the three-step test, which it views as a restrictive, rather than enabling, clause. In its interpretation of the test, the decision fails to strike the necessary balance between competing rights and interests. This is due to multiple factors: overreliance on the principle of strict interpretation; failure to consider the fundamental right of privacy; lack of justification of the normative and empirical elements of the test’s second condition; and a disregard for the remuneration element in connection with the test’s third condition. To the contrary, it is argued that a flexible construction of the three-step test is more suited to the Infosoc Directive’s balancing aims.


Download the text of the article from SSRN at the link.

October 28, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola and the 'Net

Where do you get your information about Ebola? According to the New York Times' Noam Cohen, if you are like a lot of U.S. readers, you turn to the World Health Organization, WebMD, and Wikipedia. Wikipedia? Well, says one physician involved in providing medical information to the public, the Wiki world "is such a recognized brand...". More here.

October 27, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Facebook and the News

The New York Times on how Facebookers get their news.

October 27, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Privacy and Intellectual Freedom

Neil M. Richards and Joanna F. Cornwell, both of Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law, have published Privacy and Intellectual Freedom in The Handbook of Intellectual Freedom (Mark Alfino, ed., Unwin, 2014). Here is the abstract.

This essay offers an account of the complex ways intellectual freedom and privacy are interrelated. We pay particular attention to both the constitutional dimensions of these important values, as well as the important roles that social and professional norms play in their protection in practice. Our examination of these issues is divided into three parts. Part I lays out the law and legal theory governing privacy as it relates to intellectual freedom. Part II examines a special context in which law and professional norms operate together to protect intellectual freedom through privacy – the library. Finally, Part III discusses how government actions and other threats can infringe individuals’ privacy, potentially threatening intellectual freedom.


Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

October 24, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Washington Post's Ben Bradlee Passes From the Scene

Ben C. Bradlee, former executive editor of the Washington Post, has died at the age of 93. Mr. Bradlee joined the paper in 1965, brought on board by legendary owner Katharine Graham, and oversaw its growth into one of the leading newspapers in the United States. He was depicted on screen by actor Jason Robards in the film All the President's Men, the movie that dramatized WaPo reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's story of the Watergate scandal, first covered in the pages of the Washington Post.

More coverage here from CNN, here from the New York Times.

October 22, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Political Advertising on TV in the UK Legal Regime and the European Convention on Human Rights

Ronan  Ó Fathaigh, University of Amsterdam, Institute for Information Law, is publishing Political Advertising Bans and Freedom of Expression in volume 27 of the Greek Public Law Journal in volume 27 (2014). Here is the abstract. 

In Animal Defenders International v UK, the 17-judge Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the UK’s ban on political advertising on television, as applied to an animal rights organisation, did not violate freedom of expression. The Court divided nine votes to eight, with the majority opinion abandoning the Court’s previous ‘strict scrutiny’ review, and laying down a new doctrine for reviewing political advertising bans.  This article, first, examines the role the composition of the Grand Chamber played in the outcome of the case. Second, questions the basis of the new doctrine of review. And third, criticises the majority’s treatment of precedent.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.


Here is a link to the case discussed in the article.

October 22, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

UK Politician Supports More Protections For Media Who Seek Out Stories In the Public Interest

Nick Clegg, head of the UK's Liberal Democratic party, advocates a "public interest" defense for the media, which would include allowing journalists to pursue stories even if they broke laws such as those prohibiting bribery or misue of data. Mr. Clegg says protection of the public's interest in knowing the truth mandates changes in existing legislation. More here from the Guardian.

October 21, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The First Amendment and Frozen Categories

Steven Shiffrin, Cornell Law School, is publishing The Dark Side of the First Amendment in volume 61 of the UCLA Law Review (2014). Here is the abstract.

Each year, the UCLA School of Law hosts the Melville B. Nimmer Memorial Lecture. Since 1986, the lecture series has served as a forum for leading scholars in the fields of copyright and First Amendment law. In recent years, the lecture has been presented by many distinguished scholars. The UCLA Law Review has published these lectures and proudly continues that tradition by publishing an Article by this year’s presenter, Professor Steven Shiffrin.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

October 21, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Euromaidan Protests and Social Media

Bruce Etling, Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet & Society has published Russia, Ukraine, and the West: Social Media Sentiment in the Euromaidan Protests as Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-13. Here is the abstract.

This paper investigates sentiment in the online conversation about the Ukrainian Euromaidan protests across a range of English- and Russian-language social and traditional media sources. Results from this exploratory research show more support for the Euromaidan protests in Russian-language sources, including among sources and users based in Russia, than originally expected. Sentiment in English-language sources, including those located in the United States and United Kingdom, is more negative than anticipated given the rhetorical support among western governments for the Euromaidan protests. However, social media content in Ukraine, the US, and the UK is more positive than traditional media outlets in those countries.


Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

October 20, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The April 2014 911 Outage

The FCC has released a report and recommendations on the April 911 outage. The outage began April 9 and hit seven states, including North Carolina, Minnesota, and Washington. At the time, CenturyLink, a company located in Louisiana, explained that the system it uses to route calls to the national center in Colorado, was overloaded.

The FCC's own investigation, which began several weeks after the outage, revealed that the outage was due to a "coding error," rather than to weather conditions or some other event. 

October 20, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Leakers, Leakees, and the First Amendment

John D. Moore, Brooklyn Law School, has published In the Same Boat: Leaks, the Press, and the First Amendment at 18 Holy Cross journal of Law and Public Policy 137 (2014). Here is the abstract.

In the Same Boat offers a distinctive perspective on the timely topic of national security leaks. Historically, the government has prosecuted the individuals who leak national security information while allowing the press who publish that leaked information to act without consequence. This article shows that the laws that criminalize leaking apply with equal force to those in the press who receive leaked information. In short, when it comes to leaked information, journalists and their sources are in the same boat and only government forbearance prevents journalists from facing prosecution. This is an upsetting prospect for those who value public access to information the government would prefer to keep secret. Thus, this article proposes a novel First Amendment defense for both leakers and the press who publish those leaks. The defense balances the government’s often-legitimate interest in maintaining the secrecy of national defense information against the public’s equally legitimate need to know information of public concern.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

October 17, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Limiting Copyrightability of Illegal Works

Eldar Haber, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, has published Copyrighted Crimes: The Copyrightability of Illegal Works at 16 Yale Journal of Law & Technology 454 (2014). Here is the abstract.

Copyright law does not explicitly impose content-based restrictions on the copyrightability of works. As long as a work is original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression, it is entitled to copyright protection and eligible for registration, regardless of its content. Thus, child pornography, snuff films or any other original works of authorship that involve criminal activities are copyrightable. Such work can be highly profitable for its makers even though society does not necessarily benefit from, and might even be harmed by, the work. Along with revenue from sales, the author of an illegal work may also be able to collect damages for infringement. This scheme does not benefit society and should be revised.

After examining how the current copyright regime deals with works involving illegal activity, this article suggests a new framework. First, I review the elements of copyright and consider existing content-based restrictions in copyright, trademark, and patent law. After evaluating whether copyright law should impose content-based restrictions on illegal works, and whether such impositions would be constitutional, I conclude that creators should not benefit from works that are linked to harmful criminal activities. I propose a new framework for the copyright of such works that de-incentives their creation by eliminating profits from the works themselves and reducing profits from the felon’s other works due to his or her notoriety, while also compensating victims.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

October 16, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Speech in Europe Today

Anthony Lester, Blackstone Chambers, has published Free Speech Today at 33 Polish Yearbook of International Law 129 (2013). Here is the abstract.

The article is an amended version of the Marek Nowicki Memorial Lecture presented at Warsaw University in 2014. It discusses the contemporary meaning of the right to free expression, concentrating on the basic principles of free speech as well as the limits of the right. In this context, the article pays special attention to British, Polish and European practice (particularly with respect to cases that are relevant for Poland). The specific topics tackled by the author include: free speech and the problem of criminalization of certain acts (e.g. the offence of defamation of public officials), hate speech, freedom of expression and the right of an individual to protect his or her good reputation (including the issue of libel laws), freedom of expression and the right to privacy (including the right to prior restraint on publication), free speech and internet, and the right to privacy versus national security.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

October 15, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Compelled Commercial Speech

Robert Post, Yale Law School, is publishing Compelled Commercial Speech in the West Virginia Law Review. Here is the abstract.

This paper is the text of the fourth annual C. Edwin Baker Lecture for Liberty, Equality, and Democracy at the West Virginia University College of Law, which will be delivered in November and subsequently published in the West Virginia Law Review. The article explores the burgeoning doctrine of “compelled commercial speech,” with special emphasis on recent decisions of the United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit, including American Meat Institute (“AMI”) v. Department of Agriculture, an en banc decision upholding the mandated labeling of meat products; National Association of Manufacturers (“NAM”) v. SEC, which struck down features of SEC mandated reports about the origins of conflict minerals; and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. FDA, which invalidated FDA mandated graphic cigarette warnings.

Commercial speech doctrine was established in order to protect what Central Hudson called the “informational function” of commercial communications. The object of the doctrine was explicitly to protect the capacity of an audience to receive information rather than to safeguard the autonomy of a commercial speaker. The informational function implies a constitutional asymmetry between restrictions on commercial speech and compelled disclosures of commercial speech. The former impair the distribution of information; the latter enhance it. The tendency of many judges to adjudicate compelled commercial speech cases in light of decisions like West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which defend the autonomy of speakers within public discourse, is deeply misplaced. The article defends the proposition that First Amendment jurisprudence is plural, not unitary.

The Court embraced the plurality of First Amendment jurisprudence in Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which holds that factual commercial speech can be compelled if it is “reasonably related” to an appropriate government purpose. First Amendment rights of commercial speakers in such circumstances are deemed to be “minimal.” The article discusses the relationship between the Zauderer test for compelled commercial speech and the Central Hudson test for restrictions on commercial speech, which is the object of much unfocused discussion in AMI.

Compelled commercial speech, like government speech, is an effort to affect the content of public opinion. Both compelled commercial speech and government speech raise questions about how a democratic government may constitutionally influence the shape of a public opinion to which it is in theory responsive. The article seeks to explain certain doctrinal restrictions on compelled commercial speech in light of constitutional concerns that arise when government seeks to affect the content of public opinion. It offers an analysis of why government efforts to inform public opinion through the required disclosure of facts is constitutionally distinct from government efforts to shape public opinion through the required disclosure of opinions. The article explores how compelled disclosures of opinion may constitutionally be distinguished from compelled disclosures of fact, a distinction that lies at the heart of decisions like NAM and R.J. Reynolds. The article also discusses the kinds of state interests that may justify compelled commercial speech, which is the subject of great dispute in AMI.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

October 15, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Common Law History of Copyright

Tomas Gomez-Arostegui, Lewis & Clark Law School, has published Copyright at Common Law in 1774 at 47 Connecticut Law Review 1 (2014). Here is the abstract.

As we approach Congress’s upcoming reexamination of copyright law, participants are amassing ammunition for the battle to come over the proper scope of copyright. One item that both sides have turned to is the original purpose of copyright, as reflected in a pair of cases decided in Great Britain in the late 18th century -- Millar v. Taylor and Donaldson v. Becket. The salient issue is whether copyright was a natural or customary right, protected at common law, or a privilege created solely by statute. These differing viewpoints set the default basis of the right. Whereas the former suggests the principal purpose was to protect authors, the latter indicates that copyright should principally benefit the public.

The orthodox reading of these two cases is that copyright existed as a common-law right inherent in authors. In recent years, however, revisionist work has challenged that reading. Relying in part on the discrepancies of 18th-century law reporting, scholars have argued that the natural-rights and customary views were rejected. The modified account has made great strides and has nearly displaced the traditional interpretation. Using a unique body of historical research, this Article constitutes the first critical examination of the revision. Ultimately, it concludes that the revision is incorrect and that we must return to the orthodox view.

This Article also discusses the procedures of the House of Lords in appeals and the reporting of appeals in newspapers and periodicals.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

October 14, 2014 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)