Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Channel 4 Wins Defamation By Fiction Claim

A U.S. judge has tossed a defamation by fiction claim, saying that no reasonable person could believe that the character "Ali G" (Sacha Baron Cohen) was discussing in an interview with novelist Gore Vidal was a real person, even though she shares a name with a real person. Channel 4, which controls the worldwide rights to broadcast Da Ali G Show, refused to settle the case after the woman whose "name's the same" as is that of "Ali G"'s fictional girlfriend had sued over the "nominal" similarity. Said Judge Terry Friedman,

No reasonable person could consider the statements made by Ali G on the program to be factual. To the contrary, it is obvious that the Ali G character is absurd, and all his statements are gibberish and intended as comedy. The actor, Sacha Baron Cohen, never strays from the Ali G character, who is dressed in a ridiculous outfit and speaks in the exaggerated manner of a rap artist. Ali G’s statements are similarly absurd. For example, prior to the reference to Plaintiff, while ‘interviewing’ the author Gore Vidal, Ali G refers to the Constitution of the United States as having been written on two tablets, clearly intended to confuse the Constitution with the Ten Commandments. Altogether, the program is obviously a spoof of a serious interview program. No reasonable person could think otherwise.

Here's more from the New York Times.

April 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UK Entertainment Industry Says It Needs More Assistance From the Government To Protect Itself From Pirates

The Guardian's Jemima Kiss covers the Industry Trust's warning from the United Kingdom's entertainment industry to the government: do more to stamp out piracy or legitimate film, music, and tv offerings will disappear.

April 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Author Jared Diamond Sued For Defamation

According to this Chronicle of Higher Education account, author Jared Diamond is being sued for defamation over a New Yorker article in which he discusses New Guinea clan warfare. Two Papua New Guinea tribesmen are now claiming that because of the article, they have suffered damage, and they've filed suit against Mr. Diamond and the New Yorker's publisher in a New York state court. Here's more in an article from the Ledger-Enquirer.

April 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fulbright Scholar Program Opportunities In Law

Fulbright Scholar Program for US Faculty and Professionals for 2010-2011 is open

The Fulbright Scholar Program is offering 74 lecturing, research or combined lecturing/research awards in law, including six Fulbright Distinguished Chairs. Even better, faculty and professionals in law also can apply for one of the 144All Discipline” awards open to all fields.


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


Middle East and Northern Africa: Award #0476 – International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law in the West Bank; Award #0417 – Middle East/North Africa Regional Research Program (3-9 months in two or more countries); all discipline awards in Lebanon and Jordan.


Southern and Western Europe: Award #0225 – Public Policy, International Relations and Law in Bulgaria; Social Science awards (dealing with law) in Turkey, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.


Western Hemisphere: Award #0594 – North American Studies: Canada-Mexico Joint Award in North American Studies; Award #0545 – Fulbright Border Program in Mexico;  Award #0563 – Social Sciences in Venezuela; multiple awards in North American and Legal Studies in Canada and El Salvador.


Northern and Eastern Europe: There are specific law awards in Bosnia, Croatia, Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, and Ukraine. Law is listed as a specialization in the all disciplines and social science awards in Georgia, Moldova and Russia.


The application deadline is August 1, 2009.  U.S. citizenship is required.  For a full, detailed listing of all Fulbright programs and other eligibility requirements, please visit our website at or send a request for materials to


April 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Britain's Information Privacy Commissioner Rejects Complaints About Google Street View; Says Its Use Doesn't Invade Privacy

The agency responsible for protecting British citizen privacy says Google Street view does not violate it, based on other current practices including Twitter, blogging, and use of services such as MySpace and Facebook. The Information Privacy Commissioner's Office says that "it is important to highlight that putting images of people on Google Street View is very unlikely to formally breach the Data Protection Act." It noted that Google and the agency had met in 2008 to discuss how Google Street View would be implemented in the UK.

April 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CNN and That DMCA Takedown Notice

Ben Sheffner comments here on CNN's DMCA takedown notice sent to YouTube over Susan Roesgen's encounter with some "Tea Party" protesters on April 15th. Here's comment from blogger The Legal Tech Guy. Howard Kurtz and his guests also commented on Sunday's Reliable Sources show about the dustup.

April 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reporter Vs. Cop

CNN video: a confrontation between a reporter and a police officer. The reporter wants to interview witnesses at the scene of an accident and the police officer doesn't want him to do so. The cameraman just keeps filming--well, until he gets handcuffs slapped on him, too.

April 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Iranian/American Journalist Appeals Sentence

Roxana Saberi's lawyer has appealed her eight-year sentence for espionage, as Iran's president has announced he will not intervene in the judicial process.

April 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Law Professor Wins Pulitzer Prize For Historical Work

Law professor Annette Gordon-Reed has won a Pulitzer Prize (History) for her book The Hemings of Monticello: An American Family (Norton). She also won a National Book Award for her work.

April 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Rodney Smolla On IMS Health Inc. v. Ayotte

Rodney Smolla, Dean of Washington & Lee Law School, analyzes the IMS Health Inc. v. Ayotte case for Legal Times here. Here's a page on the case from the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

April 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cheerleading Coach Poses For "Playboy," Loses Job

A cheerleading coach at Casa Robles High School in Sacramento, California has lost her job after school officials learned she posed for Playboy's "Cybergirls of the Week" as "Carlie Christine." She worked for the high school as Carlie Beck. Read more here and see interviews with Ms. Beck and the parents who brought the photos to school officials' attention here.

April 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Ups and Downs of Legislating Video Poker

North Carolina legislators are taking another stab at outlawing video poker--at least, they're trying. But their efforts might interfere with an ongoing case, so they've backed off, at least for the moment. Read more here in an article from the Greensboro News-Record.

April 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Madonna Falls From Horse; She Says Paparazzi Scared It

According to the Guardian, Madonna fell from her horse at a friend's place in the Hamptons when paparazzi popped out of the bushes and scared the animal while trying to get photos of her as she rode. But at least one photographer says that's not what happened. The singer is currently under observation but has been discharged from the hospital.

April 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Father Says He Never Agreed To Allow "Slumdog Millionaire" Child Actress To Be Adopted

The BBC reports that the father of one of the children who appeared in the hit film Slumdog Millionaire denies agreeing to allow undercover reporters pretending to represent a wealthy Arabic couple to adopt his daughter for cash. Rafiq Qureshi says he was confused about the conversations, but when it became clear to him that adoption was involved he walked away.

April 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Journalist's Trial Is Getting Review

NPR has this story on developments in the conviction of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who received a one day, closed door trial, and was then sentenced to eight years in prison. An Iranian judge has ordered further investigation into her one-day closed door trial. Ms. Saberi's lawyer is appealing the verdict. Meanwhile, the President of Iran has told Tehran's prosecutor that both Ms. Saberi and another journalist being investigated should be allowed to defend themselves.

April 20, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Regulation of Video Games

Emile Loza, Technology Law Group, has published Video Software Dealers Ass'n v. Schwarzenegger: A Rising Ninth Circuit Case on the Constitutionality of States' Regulation of Minors' Access to Violent Video Games, at 25 Computer & Internet Lawyer 1 (May 2008). Here is the abstract.
Loza reviews this case rising on appeal in which California's regulation of minors' access to violent video and computer games is challenged on First Amendment grounds.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

First Circuit Grants Appeal of Record Companies to Deny Webcast in Tenenbaum Case

The First Circuit has granted the request of the record companies that the proceedings in the case between the RIAA and Joel Tenenbaum not be webcast. The district judge, Nancy Gertner, had granted the request, but the recording industry had appealed. Here is a link to the ruling.


April 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

London Police Seize Tourist's Vacation Snaps

London police have seized an Austrian tourist's vacation photos in the name of national security. Specifically, they took all photos having to do with transportation (all those iconic London buses and bus stations). The Metropolitan Police indicated it is investigating the incident. The tourist, Klaus Matzka, is lodging a complaint with authorities and noted that Google Earth takes photographs "of any details of our cities on the world wide web....But a father and his son are not allowed to take pictures of famous London landmarks."

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Pirate Bay Team Convicted, Sentenced

A Swedish court has convicted, sentenced, and fined the Pirate Bay website founders for copyright violations. The four men, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde, were sentenced to a year in jail and fines of four and a half million dollars. Said one of the Pirate Bay crew, Peter Sunde, "It's so bizarre that we were convicted at all and it's even more bizarre that we were [convicted] as a team. The court said we were organised. I can't get Gottfrid [Svartholm Warg] out of bed in the morning. If you're going to convict us, convict us of disorganised crime."

The four said they would not pay the fines and will appeal the verdict. Read more here in a BBC article.

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Indonesian Supreme Court Rules For Time Magazine in Suharto Defamation Appeal

Time Magazine has won a reversal of the defamation verdict against it in the Suharto case. The Indonesian Supreme Court reversed its own 2007 ruling, finding that statements in Time's 1999 article did not deviate from the Indonesian press code. However, some commentators on the ruling say that the judgment may not mean a liberalization of judicial attitudes toward the press. Read more here in an article in the Financial Times. Here's more from the Guardian.

April 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)