Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Julie Hilden on the Noonan v. Staples Case

FindLaw's Julie Hilden discusses the 1st Circuit's recent decision in Noonan v. Staples. See an earlier Media Law Blog post on the ruling here.

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Max Mosley's Attorney and the PCC's Chair

Attorney Dominic Crossley speaks up in defense of his client Max Mosley here after Sir Christopher Meyer, head of the Press Complaints Commission, defends its role.

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

U. S. Journalists To Go On Trial In North Korea

The New York Times reports that North Korea will put two U. S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, on trial for entering the country illegally and for committing "hostile acts" against it. Read more here.

March 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Iowa Bill Would Restrict Campaign Speech, Political Cartoons

Here's a link to the text of that Iowa bill that would ban political cartoons and restrict the distribution of campaign material without the permission of candidates. Here's short commentary from Eugene Volokh and Rick Hasen, both of whom note it has serious (major, insurmountable?) constitutionality problems.

[Thanks to Brendan Craig for the tip].

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

SCOTUS Won't Hear Virginia's Appeal In Spam Law Case

FindLaw reports that the Supreme Court has denied cert in the case of Virginia v. Jaynes, the anti-spam case in which Jeremy Jaynes, the "spam king," had obtained reversal of his conviction under a Virginia anti-spam statute. The Virginia Supreme Court found the statute overbroad because it banned not only commercial emails but also religious, political and other protected speech. See here.

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Courts and Academic Speech

Peter Schmidt reviews the application of Garcetti v. Ceballos in the courts in a column for The Chronicle of Higher Education here. See his follow-up, discussing a loss for Delaware State University professor Wendell Gorum in the Third Circuit here.

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Fulbright Scholar Competition Now Open

From the Fulbright folks.

The Fulbright Scholar competition for 2010-2011 is open.

The Fulbright Scholar Program is offering lecturing, research or combination lecturing/research awards in over 125 countries for the 2010-2011 academic year. Opportunities are available not only for college and university faculty and administrators but also for professionals from business and government, as well as artists, journalists, scientists, lawyers, independent scholars and many others.

There are awards in 45 different fields or disciplines, and a variety of sub-disciplines and interdisciplinary fields.

What does Fulbright have to offer? Here are a few of the awards for 2010-2011:

People’s Republic of China Award #0127 Distinguished Lectureship in Study of the United States American foreign policy, American history, American literature, American politics, American studies

Brazil Award #0512 Fulbright-FAPESP/Sao Paolo Science/Technology Program biology, biochemistry, biophysics, genetics, immunology, microbiology, parasitology, physiology

Ukraine Award #0401 Cultural Resource Management art conservation, museum studies, management of art organizations

Egypt Award #0427 Sciences multiple disciplines in the sciences, including but not limited to: biology, chemistry, environmental sciences, food and nutrition, genetic engineering research methods, textiles or physics

The application deadline is August 1, 2009. U.S. citizenship is required. For other eligibility requirements and detailed award descriptions visit our website at, or send a request for materials to

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Encouraging the Marketplace of Ideas

Maurice E. Stucke, University of Tennessee School of Law, has published Concentrated Media is Something We Can't Ignore: A Response to Speaker Pelosi. Here is the abstract.

This essay briefly responds to a request that the U.S. Department of Justice should give San Francisco Bay Area newspapers more leeway under the federal antitrust laws to merge or consolidate their business operations. The essay agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's concerns that a strong, free, and independent press is vital to our democracy and in informing our citizens, especially news organizations that devote resources to gathering news. As the essay explains, the antidote is not to weaken the antitrust laws to enable large media conglomerates to become even bigger. Instead, the health of the marketplace of ideas depends on the antitrust laws to preserve divergent and competing voices.

Download the essay from SSRN here.

March 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Under the New Administration, Lesser Known Media Enter the Spotlight

From the New York Times, a report on the black news media under the Obama administration.

March 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

British Home Secretary Apologizes Over Charges For Movies

British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says she will repay the costs of films that she and her husband watched at home and then charged taxpayers. The films include some adult movies. The Home Secretary has apologized and says the charges were "a mistake." Her husband has also apologized. Read more here.

March 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Call For Papers in Semiotics and Law



8th International Roundtable for the Semiotics of Law (IRSL 2009)

(2-5 December 2009)




Convenor: Vijay K. Bhatia

Conference Venue: Department of English, City University of Hong Kong .


The overall aim of a State is to protect the social order in which the individual liberty of the citizen is a major concern. As a consequence the State should guarantee simultaneously and paradoxically a high level of individual freedom and an order in which such freedom is made possible and guaranteed.

The 8th International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law invites contributors to reflect on the growing importance of Transparency, Control and Power in our international community and how these main ideas have been examined over the years. Contributors may choose to explore semiotic, rhetorical, pragmatic, sociolinguistic, psychological, philosophical and/or visual perspectives on Transparency, Control and Power.

Papers which examine the ways ‘actors’ in our society (legislators, politicians, activists, movie producers, singers, painters, graffiti artists, photographers etc.) have provoked public discourse to confront Transparency, Control and Power are particularly welcome.

The Roundtable will provide an opportunity for a general discussion of issues in the semiotics of law as well as open discussions to increase our knowledge about our Transparency, Control and Power with respect to Legal Semiotics.

In the interest of a cohesive roundtable, prospective participants are requested to adhere to the theme as outlined in the call for papers.

Proposals in either English or French (max 300 words) should be sent by e-mail by the 1st of May 2009 to Vijay K. Bhatia at and to Anne Wagner at

Selected papers will be published in a special annual issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (


Anne Wagner, Ph. D., Senior Lecturer, Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale (France)


March 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wiki Knowledge and Wiki Law

Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University, ANU College of Law, has published Wikipedia, Collective Authorship, and the Politics of Knowledge, in Intellectual Property Reforms: Fostering Innovation and Development (Christopher Arup & William Van Caenegem (Edward Elgar, 2009). Here is the abstract.

This chapter considers the legal ramifications of Wikipedia, and other online media, such as the Encyclopedia of Life. Nathaniel Tkacz (2007) has observed: 'Wikipedia is an ideal entry-point from which to approach the shifting character of knowledge in contemporary society.' He observes: 'Scholarship on Wikipedia from computer science, history, philosophy, pedagogy and media studies has moved beyond speculation regarding its considerable potential, to the task of interpreting - and potentially intervening in - the significance of Wikipedia's impact' (Tkacz 2007). After an introduction, Part II considers the evolution and development of Wikipedia, and the legal troubles that have attended it. It also considers the establishment of rival online encyclopedia - such as Citizendium set up by Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia; and Knol, the mysterious new project of Google. Part III explores the use of mass, collaborative authorship in the field of science. In particular, it looks at the development of the Encyclopedia of Life, which seeks to document the world's biodiversity.

This chapter expresses concern that Wiki-based software had to develop in a largely hostile and inimical legal environment. It contends that copyright law and related fields of intellectual property need to be reformed in order better to accommodate users of copyright material (Rimmer 2007). This chapter makes a number of recommendations. First, there is a need to acknowledge and recognize forms of mass, collaborative production and consumption - not just individual authorship. Second, the view of a copyright 'work' and other subject matter as a complete and closed piece of cultural production also should be reconceptualised. Third, the defense of fair use should be expanded to accommodate a wide range of amateur, peer-to-peer production activities - not only in the United States, but in other jurisdictions as well. Fourth, the safe harbor protections accorded to Internet intermediaries, such as Wikipedia, should be strengthened. Fifth, there should be a defense in respect of the use of 'orphan works' - especially in cases of large-scale digitization. Sixth, the innovations of open source licensing should be expressly incorporated and entrenched within the formal framework of copyright laws. Finally, courts should craft judicial remedies to take into account concerns about political censorship and freedom of speech.

Download the essay from SSRN here.

March 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Jersey Teen Faces Charges For Posting Explicit Photos of Herself On MySpace

NPR has aired this story about a teen facing charges of distributing child pornography for posting explicit nude photographs of herself on MySpace. More and more youngsters are posting such photos without understanding the possible legal consequences.

March 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Father of Jade Goody's Children Asks Media To Stop Taking Photos of Them

The father of late reality star Jade Goody's children has asked media to show restraint in taking photographs of their two small children, aged five and four. Pictures of the two boys have been prominent in newspapers and tabloids since Ms. Goody died of cervical cancer on March 22 at the age of 27. She had gained notoriety for lack of knowlege and objectionable remarks made during her participation in UK "Big Brother" shows.

March 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Constitutional Protection of Free Speech and Australian Copyright Law

Melissa De Zwart, Monash University Faculty of Law, has published The Future of Fair Dealing in Australia: Protecting Freedom of Communication, in volume 4 of SCRIPT-ed. Here is the abstract.

This article considers the role of the concept of freedom of communication within the law of copyright in Australia. It concludes that the judicially articulated implied Constitutional guarantee of freedom of political communication is too narrow to act as a control upon the contours or nature of copyight law. However the doctrine of fair dealing encompasses elements of freedom of communication and provides some scope for the recognition of such rights under Australian law.

Download the article from SSRN here.

March 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Votes Are In--It's Colbert By a Landslide

ABC News first reported this tidbit a few days ago, but the votes are now in. Pseudocommentator Stephen Colbert got his real fans to keyboard in his name as the moniker for the International Space Station's new add-on, and it seems that they've stuffed the ballot boxes. While NASA has an out (it gets to choose the final name of the new room--agency discretion), I suspect Mr. Colbert, and very likely his friend Mr. Stewart from the Daily Show, will have endless grist for their mills if Astronaut Central does not let "The Colbert Room," (or would that be "The Colbert Cubbyhole," "Cabin" or "Cubicle"?) make its appearance. Maybe we could name an asteroid after him instead.  

March 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Bad Little Britney

Jesse Sheidlower riffs on Britney Spears' new song "If U Seek Amy" and its not so hidden meaning here for Slate. The Parents Television Council has already complained about the lyrics, notes the Volokh Conspiracy's Jonathan Adler.

March 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Hillary: The Lawsuit"

NPR's Nina Totenberg covers the hotly contested lawsuit over "Hillary: The Movie" at the Supreme Court today here. Notes Ms. Totenberg,

During the 2008 presidential primary campaign, a conservative advocacy group called Citizens United produced Hillary: The Movie, a 90-minute documentary that was available on DVD and came and went quickly in theaters. The group wanted to run it on cable TV as an on-demand movie and maintained that it was not subject to federal campaign rules because the movie did not say explicitly that people should vote for or against Clinton. A three-judge federal court in Washington didn't buy the argument that the movie wasn't campaign electioneering. It ruled unanimously that there is only one way the movie could be interpreted: "to inform the electorate that Sen. Clinton is unfit for office." Thus, the court said, the movie is covered by a variety of provisions in the McCain-Feingold law.

Here's more coverage of the case from, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Times, and the AP.


March 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Department of Justice Makes Position Known In Sony/Tenenbaum Case

Here's a piece from the Wired Campus Blog (Chronicle of Higher Education) on the Sony/Tenenbaum lawsuit, discussing the position taken by the Department of Justice.

March 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Denies Cert In Berkeley Evolution Website Case

The Supreme Court has denied cert (2009 U.S. LEXIS 1996) in the University of California, Berkeley evolution website case. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the plaintiff's failure to establish standing.

In a published opinion, the district court concluded that Caldwell's allegations state only a generalized grievance insufficient for injury in fact, and dismissed the complaint....We also conclude that the harm asserted by Caldwell to her interest in being informed about the teaching of evolutionary theory is too generalized and remote to confer standing against the University of California faculty who administer the website and develop its content on behalf of the Museum of Paleontology. Caldwell's complaint against the Director of the National Science Foundation has become moot since her appeal was taken. Therefore, we affirm.



March 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)