Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CNN Show Anchor Gets Restraining Order Against Admirer

CNN's Robin Meade has apparently acted to obtain a restraining order against a man who traveled from Maine to Georgia to meet her, based on signals he thought he discerned from her. Needless to say, the anchor of "Morning Express With Robin Meade" sent Gregory Fitzgerald no such signals, and his family has assured Ms. Meade she won't be hearing from him again. Read more here.

September 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

How Much Influence Does the Drudge Report Have?

Read FindLaw's Julie Hilden on Matt Drudge's influence here.

September 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Lawsuit Over Spore Hits California Court

NPR's Laura Slydell offers this look at the controversy over the Electronic Arts game "Spore".

September 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Dismisses False Light, Defamation Claims Against Washington Post

The U. S. District Court for the D. C. Circuit has dismissed a case against the Washington Post brought by a plaintiff who alleged that the Post's articles mentioning him and his hoarding and discussing a link between hoarding and mental illness defamed him and invaded his privacy (a "false light" claim). The Court held that the Post could avail itself of the common law privilege of substantial truth, that the articles did not imply that the plaintiff is mentally ill, but that the link between hoarding and mental illness is unclear, that in the alternative that the Post could have relied on the "fair report privilege", and that the false light claim failed because the defamation claims failed--the plaintiff failed to show that the statements complained of were false. The case is Shipkovitz v. Washington Post, Civil Action No. 07-1053 (RCL). Read the opinion here.

September 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (2)

Sienna Miller Wins Damages From Daily Star

The Daily Star has apologized to and will pay damages to Sienna Miller over a paparazzi photograph which it published of her and which she alleged violated her privacy. The photo was taken in Los Angeles. Read more here.

September 30, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Judge Grants New Trial in Thomas Downloading Case

U. S. District Court Judge Michael J. Davis has reversed the verdict in Capital Records v. Thomas, saying that it had erred in instructing the jury, and is therefore granting Ms. Thomas a new trial. The disputed jury instruction, requested by the plaintiffs and accepted by the judge, was the following: "`The act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network, without license from the copyright owners, violates the copyright owners' exclusive right of distribution, regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown.'"

Liability for violation of the exclusive distribution right found in § 106(3) requires actual dissemination. Jury Instruction No. 15 was erroneous and that error substantially prejudiced Thomas’s rights. Based on the Court’s error in instructing the jury, it grants Thomas a new trial. Because the Court grants a new trial on the basis of jury instruction error, it does not reach Thomas’s claim regarding excessive damages set forth in her motion for a new trial. Plaintiffs’ request to amend the judgment is denied because the judgment is vacated.

Read the ruling here.

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thomson-Reuters Launches Lawsuit At George Mason, Claiming Zotero Is End Run Around EndNote

Thomson-Reuters is suing George Mason University for breach of contract and reverse engineering of its product EndNote. The University and the Center for History and New Media (based at GMU) are instead promoting a product called Zotero that Thomson-Reuters claims is based on EndNote. Here's a link to the complaint. Here's discussion from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here's discussion from James Grimmelmann and Richard Koman.

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Spying on the Media

The Guardian's Hans Kundnani details the quickly emerging story that some of Germany's biggest concerns were spying on reporters during the 2005-2006 period.

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

You Look Scrabulous!

The Agarwalla brothers are back, with (presumably) a non-infringing version of online Scrabble called Wordscraper. The Guardian's Johnny Sharp has more here.

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Complaints To PCC Gain Readers Apologies, Refund, Free Subscription

Two readers received apologies from media after complaining to the Press Complaints Commission. One thought Look's coverage of Jennifer Aniston's possible pregnancy was deceptive, and got an apology and a refund of the cost of the magazine. The other got a six month subscription to OK! magazine after she complained about non-coverage of a celebrity's wedding. Read more here.

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Cutting Piracy By Making Music More Downloadable

The Guardian's Richard Wray writes about a new approach to making downloadable music available that might cut piracy.

September 29, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (5)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

MCPRS-PRS Says It Will Appeal EU Ruling

The MCPS-PRS Alliance says it will challenge a decision by Neelie Kroes, an EU competition commissioner, that holds that broadcasters should be able to negotiate to get the rights to a piece of music via a single rights society, rather than negotiating with societies in each EU member state. The decision speaks only to radio, TV and the internet. Read more here in a Financial Times story (registration may be required; free).

September 28, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Steven Tyler Sues Bloggers

Via the Citizen Media Law Project, this news: Steven Tyler is suing some John Doe bloggers who impersonated him and girlfriend Erin Brady. Here's a link to the Reuters story which details the claims: misappropriation, public disclosure of private facts, and making false statements. Actually, the complaint lists common law misappropriation, public disclosure of private facts and false light.

September 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Weinstein Plan To Take "Project Runway" To Lifetime Auf-ed, At Least Temporarily

The Weinstein Company had planned to take its hit show Project Runway, now airing on the Bravo Network, to the Lifetime Network after this season, but that plan has hit a snag. A judge has issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the Weinsteins from doing so. The Weinsteins say they plan to appeal. NBC has a right of first refusal on the show according to its contract. Read more here and here in a New York Times story.

September 27, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 26, 2008

The FCC on Communications Problems of First Responders

From the FCC:


Creation of Nationwide, Interoperable Public Safety Broadband Network Would Enable Police, Fire and Medical Personnel to Communicate With Each Other in Emergencies, Disasters

Washington, D.C. –  In a sustained commitment to help solve the nation’s communications challenges currently faced by America’s first responders, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today adopted a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) that proposes licensing the 700 MHz D Block spectrum as part of a revised 700 MHz Public/Private partnership that will maximize the public safety and commercial benefits of a nationwide, interoperable broadband network in the 700 MHz band.   

A primary goal of the Commission is to promote the deployment of a broadband network that provides maximum coverage to first responders across the country. Today’s Notice proposes to retain a Public/Private Partnership framework for the 700 MHz band absent other sources of funding.  Today’s Notice proposes a modified set of rules to govern the D Block and a revised auction plan for assigning D Block licenses.  Specifically, the FCC proposes to use the competitive bidding process to determine whether, based on greatest population coverage and highest bid(s), the D Block spectrum would be licensed to a single licensee on a nationwide basis or to regional licensees on the basis of 58 public safety regions. 

In the event the D Block is licensed on a regional basis, the auction results also would determine the particular air interface technology that would be deployed across the nation by the D Block licensee(s) when building out the interoperable broadband network(s), which would facilitate the ability of public safety entities to communicate outside of their home regions.  With regard to the D Block license term and performance requirements, the notice proposes to extend the license term to fifteen years and to adopt performance benchmarks applicable at the fourth, tenth, and fifteenth years under the life of the license(s).

The Notice also proposes, and seeks comment on, rules involving significant clarifications and revisions of the respective obligations of the D Block licensee(s) and the Public Safety Broadband License regarding the construction and operation of the shared wireless broadband network. The public is also invited to comment on when the Commission should hold an auction for this spectrum after the rules are approved.

The clarifications and revisions address, among other things, the use of spectrum in the shared wireless broadband network (including requirements regarding public safety priority access to commercial capacity in emergencies), the technical requirements of the shared wireless broadband network (including detailed proposals relating to interoperability, robustness, capacity, quality of service, and security), the coverage requirements of the broadband network(s), and the respective operational roles of the D Block licensee(s) and the Public Safety Broadband Licensee. 

The Notice also presents a number of specific proposals with regard to the rules governing public safety users and the Public Safety Broadband License.  The Notice proposes, for example, that eligible users of the public safety broadband spectrum capacity must be providers of “public safety services” as defined under federal law.  The Notice also proposes that the Public Safety Broadband Licensee should remain a non-profit entity, and that certain restrictions be imposed on its business relationships to avoid the potential for conflicts of interest.  Further, the Notice proposes a number of changes to the Public Safety Broadband Licensee’s organizational structure to enhance its operational efficiency and transparency. 

Because the D Block did not meet its $1.3 billion reserve price in the 700 MHz Auction held in early 2008, the FCC sought comment in May on whether it should revise the 700 MHz Public/Private Partnership and re-auction this spectrum. These rules included the creation of a 10-megahertz license in the D Block to be part of a public/private partnership with the adjacent 10 megahertz of spectrum dedicated to a Public Safety Broadband License.  To ensure that all aspects of this critical initiative are given careful consideration, the Commission seeks additional public comment on this latest proposal, which was largely developed from the input, ideas and recommendations received from public safety organizations and officials, government representatives, wireless carriers and manufacturers across the country.

The public comment period for this Notice will begin once it is published in the federal registry and run for a period of 30 days, with reply comments due within 40 days from federal register publication. 

Action by the Commission, September 25, 2008, by Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 08-230).  Chairman Martin, Commissioners Tate and McDowell with Commissioner Copps concurring and Commissioner Adelstein concurring in part and dissenting in part.  Separate statements issued by Chairman Martin, Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate and McDowell. 

For additional information on the commercial services portion of the 700 MHz Band, contact Peter Trachtenberg at (202) 418-7369 or  For additional information on the public safety portion of the 700 MHz Band, contact Jeff Cohen at (202) 418-0799 or

Statements by the Commissioners: Chairman Martin

Commissioner Copps

Commissioner Adelstein

Commissioner Tate

Commissioner McDowell

September 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Italian Court Vacates Blocking Order Against Pirate Bay

The Swedish site Pirate Bay seems to have won its appeal against an Italian blocking order issued in August. Here's a tad more info.

September 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Free Speech in California Schools: A Round-Up of the Law

Paul J. Beard II, Pacific Legal Foundation,  and Robert Luther III, Knicely & Associates, have published "A Superintendent's Guide to Student Free Speech in California Public Schools," in 12 U.C. Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 1 (2008). Here is the abstract.
This article discusses one of the most important decisions on student speech to be issued out of the courts of California: Smith v. Novato Unified School District (2007). In this published decision -- binding on all school districts and trial courts in California -- the California Court of Appeal gave unprecedented protection to speech in public schools by narrowly defining "incites", the key word of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, in the context of a California public high school student speech case. In doing so, the Court of Appeal correctly set aside the United States Supreme Court's student speech jurisprudence.

Quite to the contrary of the federal courts, which have explicitly said that "the constitutional rights of students are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings" , California public school students possess the same free speech rights on campus as adults do standing on a street corner because, unlike federal courts, California state courts do not distinguish between free speech and school speech when presented with a student speech case. The Smith decision further reminds us that California state courts provide the broadest protection nationwide for students who wish to engage in controversial and/or politically incorrect speech in public schools. The article concludes with guidelines for public school districts and students to follow in light of Smith.

The article was written by the plaintiff's lead attorney in Smith and a former Litigation Fellow at the Pacific Legal Foundation, a national, freedom-based, public interest organization headquartered in Sacramento, California. Mr. Beard was recently published in the Texas Review of Law & Politics and Mr. Luther was recently published in the Santa Clara Law Review and has an article forthcoming in the Valparaiso University Law Review.

Download the article from SSRN here.

September 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

A Blog on EU Media Law

If you are interested in EU media law, check out this blog: contentandcarrier. The bloggers are academics, attorneys and judges specializing in the area. Thoughtful, interesting posts.

September 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Google and Copyright Law

Eugene Goryunov, John Marshall Law School, Chicago, has published "All Rights Reserved: Does Google's 'Image Search' Infringe Vested Exclusive Rights Granted Under the Copyright Law?" in volume 41 of John Marshall Law Review (2008). Here is the abstract.
Search engines such as provide a tremendous public benefit by enhancing, improving, and mainstreaming information-gathering techniques on the Internet. After the dotcom bubble burst in 2001, Google claimed a domineering position in the marketplace, securing its niche as "the nexus of human curiosity." Google's corporate mission to make the world's information more accessible and more useful is revealing of its vast influence in today's world. Google provides an ever-improving search technology that is capable of scouring billions of web sites, news articles, literary works, images, and videos in the "Indexable Web." Google features not only search functionality, but also several Internet-based services that have further solidified its online empire.

This Comment explores and seeks to derive a balance between public interest in the disclosure of a creative work and a copyright owner's exclusive rights granted under copyright law. It begins by providing a brief overview of the American copyright system and explaining the technology involved in Google's "Image Search." After an in-depth analysis of copyright infringement and fair use jurisprudence, it argues that Google's use of thumbnail images in its Image Search is fair and noninfringing. In order to preserve the usefulness of the Internet, this Comment proposes that courts recognize an interpretation of copyright jurisprudence that will promote easy access to information, while preserving copyright protections.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

September 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Fomer Thai Prime Minister Loses Appeal Over Criminal Defamation Case

Thailand's former Prime Minister and a co-defendant have lost an appeal over a conviction for defamation and must begin serving their sentences. They may still appeal to the Supreme Court within 30 days. Their convictions came over remarks made on their talk shows about a former Bangkok official. Read more here.

September 26, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)