Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Designer Anand Jon Alexander Awaits Sentencing

Designer Anand Jon Alexander, convicted of forcible rape last year, could receive up to life in prison for his crimes. He was found guilty of enticing young women to Los Angeles under the pretext of hiring them as models, then assaulting them. After the verdict, other problems with the trial surfaced, including an investigation of his sister's conduct with one of the jurors involved with the trial. Mr. Alexander has created fashions for such celebrities as Paris Hilton and Mary J. Blige. Read more here and here.

Update: Judge David Wesley sentenced Mr. Alexander to 59 years to life.

August 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

"Wire" Creator: Advertising Hampers Creativity

David Simon, who created the popular series The Wire, says advertising constrains creativity on television. "Television as a medium, in terms of being literate and telling stories, has short-changed itself since its inception. "That is because of advertising." He made his comments at the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

August 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Role of the Journalist

Chris Dent, University of Melbourne Law School, has published "'Journalists are the Confessors of the Public' Says One Foucaultian," in volume 9 of Journalism (2008). Here is the abstract.

The article combines Foucault’s ideas of discursive formations, practices and subjects with qualitative data gained from interviews with working Australian journalists, editors and broadcast producers. This combination of the theoretical and the empirical allows for the exploration of journalism as a discursive formation rather than as simply a set of practices internalised by journalists. Through the examination of the words of the respondents, Foucault’s notions of internal, external and neither fully internal nor external discursive controls are given a practical foundation and provide the basis for the assessment of the central Truth of the journalistic discursive formation. This Truth, the set of practices that without which would render journalism a different discursive formation, is found to be the facilitation of public confession. That is, journalists, if they are to be journalists, must, in the course of their daily lives, allow for, and publish, the 'confessions' of their sources.

Download the article from SSRN here.

August 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dutch Royal Family Wins Favorable Ruling On Privacy Against Associated Press

The Dutch royals have won a ruling from a Dutch court that the AP violated their privacy by publishing photos of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his family on holiday in Argentina (Princess Maxima was born in Argentina). The AP snapped pix of them in their private life, said the court, and in weighing the freedom of freedom of expression against the right to privacy, ruled the media should recognize that members of the royal family, while they take the risk of media scrutiny while performing their public duties do have an expectation of privacy in their private lives.

Compare with the von Hannover case (decided under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) handed down by the European Court of Human Rights, in which the court decided in favor of Princess Caroline of Monaco in her action against German media for publishing photos of herself and her family in their private life. The case is Von Hannover v. Germany, 2004-III Eur. Ct. H.R. 294. 

Thanks to Matt Duffy for the tip.

August 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

No Jokes From Flickr

Flickr has removed that Jokerized pic of President Obama from its site, for what the company called "copyright concerns," and it zapped user comments as well. And all that has now apparently caused more comment than if Flickr had done nothing at all. Read more here in Helen A. S. Popkin's column.

August 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 28, 2009

FCC Commissioner McDowell On the D. C. Circuit Cable Ownership Cap Ruling


REGARDING THE D.C. CIRCUIT’S DECISION TO STRike down the FCC’s CABle ownership cap


The following statement can be attributed to Commissioner Robert M. McDowell:


    It was clear in December 2007, when I dissented from the FCC decision to once again impose a 30 percent national cap on cable system ownership, that the effort to re-justify the very same cap that the D.C. Circuit first struck down in 2001 was even more vulnerable to court challenge the second time around.  Despite the Commission staff’s best efforts to provide post hoc empirical support for the chosen outcome, the court recognized that the 2007 analysis’ aging data and questionable assumptions sat oddly against the facts about new – and successful – competitors to cable systems in the multichannel video marketplace.  It should go without saying that, in the future, outcomes in our proceedings should be driven by the facts and law, rather than the other way around.”


A link to the ruling, Comcast v. FCC, decided August 28, 2009.

August 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Protecting Consumers

From the FCC


The FCC has issued a Notice of Inquiry on whether there are additional opportunities to protect and empower American consumers by ensuring sufficient access to relevant information about communications services.   

  As communications technologies and services become more essential, and the communications market more complex, information is key to consumer protection and empowerment. The Commission seeks comment from communications service providers, academic researchers, consumer groups and third-party analysts on how best to ensure consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions in the communications marketplace.

  The Commission’s approach to information disclosure issues has traditionally focused on the formatting of consumer bills.  This is relevant only after a consumer has already selected a service provider, and has been restricted to wireline voice and wireless services. Today’s Notice asks questions about the information available to consumers at each stage of the purchasing process:  (1) choosing a provider, (2) choosing a service plan, (3) managing use of the service plan, and (4) deciding whether and when to switch an existing provider or plan for all communications services, including wireline voice and wireless services, as well as broadband and subscription video (cable and satellite).  

  This Notice also seeks particular comment on cost-effective best practices in information disclosure from within the communications sector – as well as familiar examples for other areas, such as nutrition labeling on food products, fuel efficiency for automobiles, energy efficiency for household appliances, and rates and fees for credit cards.  Comments will be due 45 days after release of the Notice of Inquiry and replies will be due 15 days thereafter.

  Action by the Commission, August 27, 2009, by Notice of Inquiry (FCC 09-68).  Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker with Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker issuing separate statements.

August 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No Laughing Matter

Comedian Sunda Croonquist and her in-laws are facing off in court on September 8 over the entertainer's routine, which features lines about the family. The in-laws don't like them, characterizing them as "false, defamatory and racist," particularly the ones about Ruth Zafrin, the mother of Ms. Croonquist's husband of fifteen years Mark, who happens to be an attorney. So, a federal judge will be hearing the case. Ms. Zafrin wants damages and an injunction. Read more here.

August 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dominick Dunne Dies

Author Dominick Dunne has died. He was 83. Mr. Dunne began his career in films, producing such movies as Panic in Needle Park, The Boys in the Band, and Play It As It Lays, the last based on a work by his sister-in-law, Joan Didion. A second career emerged when he began writing law-related fiction based on true crime, with works such as Another Country Not My Own, A Season in Purgatory, and The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. He also wrote regularly for Vanity Fair. Mr. Dunne is survived by two sons and a granddaughter. Read more here and here.

August 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Targeted Advertising and Privacy

FindLaw's Eric Sinrod on behavior advertising and privacy concerns here.

August 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Anonymous Blogger Debate Widens

The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, like other columnists, weighs in on a judge's ruling in the anonymous blogger case, and so do readers. Many, like her, think anonymous speech on the net may have gone too far, but not all. Meanwhile, here's opinion from across the pond.

August 26, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wikipedia Changes Editorial Model, and Hopes To Move On

The BBC reports that Wikipedia is close to a radical change of its publishing model, which would provide for editorial control of changes to pages devoted to living persons and "some organizations." The changes are in response to recent problems with pages devoted to high profile personalities such as the late singer Michael Jackson and U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. Some Wikipedia users are upset about the new policy, but some welcome it. Editorial control would extend only to changes attempted by new or unknown users. Says the New York Times' Noam Cohen,

The new feature, called “flagged revisions,” will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.

The change is part of a growing realization on the part of Wikipedia’s leaders that as the site grows more influential, they must transform its embrace-the-chaos culture into something more mature and dependable.

Mr. Cohen also notes that the new policy "crosses a psychological Rubicon. It will divide Wikipedia’s contributors into two classes — experienced, trusted editors, and everyone else — altering Wikipedia’s implicit notion that everyone has an equal right to edit entries."

Read more in the New York Times article here.

August 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The History of Intellectual Property Law Rhetoric

Justin Hughes, Cardozo School of Law, has published "Notes on the Origin of Intellectual Property: Revised Conclusions and New Sources," as Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 265. Here is the abstract.
Following work published in 2006, this article explores the history of the phrase 'intellectual property' as it was used in the 19th century and early 20th century by jurists speaking French, Spanish, Italian, and English. During this period 'intellectual property' was used by many commentators to refer to copyright alone; indeed, in Spanish, the phrase unambiguously meant just copyright. The article sketches out how officials in WIPO's predecessor organization rechristened it an 'intellectual property' entity and helped establish the modern, umbrella sense of the term for patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc. Finally, the manuscript explores how the property-or-not debate has animated discussions of copyright theory throughout the history of copyright law.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

August 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Analyzing the Google Book Settlement

Matthew Sag, DePaul University School of Law, has published "The Google Book Settlement and the Fair Use Counterfactual." Here is the abstract.
This Article compares the pending settlement between Google and the representative author and publisher plaintiffs to the most likely outcome of the litigation the settlement resolves. This counterfactual provides a useful benchmark by which to assess the effects, and thus the merits, of the Google Book Search settlement.

Google was never likely to receive the courts unqualified approval for its massive digitization effort. In fact, the most likely outcome of the litigation was that book digitization would qualify as a fair use subject to an opt-out. Accordingly, the aspects of the proposed settlement which allow Google to continue to operate its book search engine in its current form should not be controversial; they essentially mirror the court’s most likely fair use ruling if the case had gone to trial. In effect, the opt-out that fair use would have required has been replaced by the ability of copyright owners to opt-out of the class-action settlement.

This conclusion explains why, in the wake of the proposed Settlement, the Google Book debate has shifted away from the merits of book digitization, and refocused on questions of commoditization and control. This Article highlights four critical areas in which the Settlement differs sharply from the predicted fair use ruling. First, the Settlement permits Google to engage in a significant range of uses including the complete electronic distribution of books that go well beyond fair use. Second, the Settlement provides for initial cash payments by Google to the copyright owners and a fairly generous revenue sharing agreement, neither of which would have been required under a fair use ruling. Third, the agreement creates a new set of institutional arrangements that will govern the relationship between Google and the copyright owners covered by the Settlement. The foundations of this new institutional framework are the Settlement agreement itself, the creation of a collective rights management organization called the “Book Rights Registry” and the “Author-Publisher Procedures”. The fourth area in which the Settlement differs from the likely fair use outcome relates to the accessibility, commoditization and control of orphan works.
Download the paper from SSRN here.

August 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Regulating Pornography On the Internet

Lilian Edwards, University of Sheffield Law School, has published "Pornography, Censorship and the Internet," in Law and the Internet (L. Edwards & C. Waelde eds.; Hart Publishing, 2009). Here is the abstract.

Over a decade since the Internet became an acknowledged mainstream commercial medium, it still retains its less than savoury reputation as a happy hunting ground for pornography and other types of distasteful content.

Some of the basic issues in this area which this chapter addresses, from a European and comparative perspective, are:

• Has the Internet created novel problems in this area which can not be adequately regulated by the existing legal and regulatory framework?

• Can such laws be enforced successfully in the environment of the Internet and if not, what steps should be taken?

• Should control of content be undertaken only by state law enforcement agencies and courts, or by private bodies such as ISPs and search engines?

• Should states and private institutions seek to control access to prohibited or unwelcome Internet content and by technological (“code”) means such as filtering, rather than by legal means? What are the implications for free speech of such online filtering?

The chapter observes a dangerous international trend towards non transparent and non accountable censorship online, not only in non democratic countries like China but increasingly in Europe and elsewhere. The author proposes a speech impact assessment process be put in place before new systems of top-down state-endorsed Intenet filtering are implemented.
Download the essay from SSRN here.

August 25, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tony Curtis Interview Gets BBC Show In Trouble With Regulator

An episode of the BBC series TalkBack featuring an interview with Tony Curtis has drawn an investigation and talking-to from Ofcom. The actor said he thought the interview was taped; on discovering his swear words were going out live he apologized. Here's a link to the latest issue of the Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin.

August 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Next Meeting of the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee Scheduled For Sept. 10

From the FCC:

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Agenda of Consumer Advisory Committee


By this Public Notice, the Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) announces the date and agenda of the next meeting of its Consumer Advisory Committee (“Committee”).


Purpose & Functions


The purpose of the Committee is to make recommendations to the Commission regarding consumer issues within the jurisdiction of the Commission and to facilitate the participation of all consumers in proceedings before the Commission.


Meeting Date


The next meeting of the Committee will take place on Thursday, September 10, 2009, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Commission’s Headquarters Building, Room TW-C305, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, DC  20554. 


Meeting Agenda


At its September 10, 2009 meeting, the Committee will focus upon broadband and the development of the National Broadband Plan. The Committee is expected to consider an outline of its recommendations to be submitted in connection with the National Broadband Plan Notice of Inquiry, Docket 09-51. The Committee may also consider other consumer issues within the jurisdiction of the Commission. A limited amount of time on the agenda will be available for oral comments from the public.  Meetings are open to the public and are broadcast on the Internet in Real Audio/Real Video format with captioning at  Members of the public may address the Committee or may send written comments to: Scott Marshall, Designated Federal Officer of the Committee, at the address noted below.


The meeting site is fully accessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.  Sign language interpreters, open captioning, assistive listening devices, and Braille copies of the agenda and handouts will be provided on site.  Other reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  Include a description of the accommodation you will need, and a way we can contact you if we need more information.  Last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill.  Send an e-mail to: or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).


For further information contact:  Scott Marshall, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, Room 3A633, 445 12th Street, S.W. Washington, DC 20554. Phone: 202 418-2809 (voice) or 202-418-0179 (TTY). Email: 

August 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Reaction To Glenn Beck's Obama Comment

From the Huffington Post: more major advertisers seem upset with Glenn Beck's Obama/racist comment and are increasingly insisting that their ads not air during his time slot. 

August 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Orders Google To Turn Over Anonymous Blogger's Name In Defamation Case; Outed Blogger Now Miffed At Google

Findlaw's Brian Kumnick discusses the recently concluded suit over the anonymous post about model Liskula Cohen and her fight to discover who called her a "skank" (among other things) on a Google-hosted blog. After a trial judge ordered Google to reveal the anonymous blogger's name (it's Rosemary Port), Ms. Cohen seems to have dismissed her defamation lawsuit against Ms. Port.

Meanwhile, Ms. Port is now annoyed at Google for turning over her name (apparently rather than appealing the ruling). Her attorney says "he plans to pursue all her legal options against Google -- and could take the case all the way to the US Supreme Court." Game on.  

(David Ardia addresses anonymous blogging at the Citizen Media Law Project here).

August 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Suspect Sought In Jasmine Fiore's Murder Found Dead

Canadian law enforcement authorities have confirmed that a man found hanged in a room at a motel in Hope, British Columbia, is Ryan Alexander Jenkins, sought in connection with the murder of Jasmine Fiore. Mr. Jenkins had been the subject of an international manhunt for several days after the body of Ms. Fiore was discovered. Mr. Jenkins had been a contestant on two VH1 reality shows, "Megan Wants a Millionaire" and "I Love Money 3." Read more here.

August 24, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)