Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

TSA Serves Subpoenas On Bloggers

The Transportation Security Administration is trying to find out who leaked information about new screening procedures to bloggers Chris Elliott and Steve Frischling after the two wrote about a new security memo which the TSA says was not supposed to be publicly released. The TSA has subpoenaed both writers. Read more here in an AP/ story discussing the "near miss attack". Here's more from the New York Times.

December 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Patrick Stewart Gets a Knighthood

We're going to have to call Captain Picard Sir Jean-Luc from now on. Queen Elizabeth II has slated Patrick Stewart for a knighthood in her New Years honours list. Also getting the royal nod: Nicholas Hytner, the fellow who brought Jerry Springer: The Opera to the National Theatre stage.

December 31, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Julie Hilden On Student Freedom of Speech

Julie Hilden critiques a school freedom of speech case from the Fifth Circuit here.

December 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Conde Nast Files John Doe Infringement Lawsuit

From the ABA Journal and Online Media Daily, news that Conde Nast has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against John Does who got hold of unpublished material and posted it on the FashionZag blog. Conde Nast succeeded in getting the material taken down, but Conde Nast alleges that the Does apparently then reposted the material on Much of the material was from the December issue of GQ, Vogue, and other magazines. A district court judge is allowing Conde Nast to subpoena internet providers that host the sites. Here's a link to the Conde Nast complaint.

December 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Suing John Doe

From the January issue of the ABA Journal, Brendan L. Smith's discussion of Internet defamation suits.

December 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Percy Sutton, Noted Attorney, Passes From the Scene

The gifted lawyer Percy Sutton passed away last week. The New York Times has a thoughtful obituary, and FCC Commissioner Michael Copps pays tribute with this statement.

With the passing of Percy E. Sutton, New York City has lost a preeminent leader.  Mr. Sutton was known to New Yorkers, and particularly those in his beloved Harlem, as a lawyer, civil rights leader and the long-serving Manhattan Borough President.  Yet it is his role as a broadcaster and media entrepreneur that represents a larger, and perhaps, more lasting legacy for the nation at large.  When Sutton and others purchased radio station WLIB in 1971 it became the first Black-owned radio station in the New York City metropolitan market. Under his leadership, WLIB aired news, information and cultural programming of interest to the Black community in the number one media market in the country.  At long last, local communities of color began to find broadcast programming that reflected their unique needs and interests.  Sutton went on to purchase WBLS in New York, and several other radio stations in various markets to form his media company, Inner City Broadcasting.  His stations gave voice to African American concerns in numerous local communities, and provided opportunities for minorities seeking employment in the broadcast industry.  Sutton's pioneering Inner City Broadcasting became the model upon which others have worked to build successful broadcast enterprises.


Although Percy Sutton's life should be celebrated for all his many and diverse accomplishments – Tuskegee Airman, political leader, and one-time owner of the famed Apollo Theatre – it is his legacy as a local broadcaster that I will always cherish.  At a time when minority ownership of broadcast stations has reached woeful single digits, I trust we will remember the legacy of Percy Sutton and the importance of diversity in media ownership.  I hope also that we will re-dedicate our efforts to improving ownership diversity of media outlets so that they will truly reflect the rich cultural diversity of all our nation's citizens.


December 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

FCC Chair's Prepared Remarks: Broadband Field Hearing On Small Business, December 21st, 2009

From the FCC



Prepared Remarks of Chairman Julius Genachowski

Federal Communications Commission


Broadband Field Hearing on Small Business

Chicago, Illinois

December 21, 2009


The Federal Communications Commission is in Chicago today as part of a public conversation over the shape of the National Broadband Plan that Congress and the President, through the Recovery Act, mandated the Commission develop by February 17, 2010.


Specifically, the FCC is charged with devising a plan that would bring broadband to every part of the country and to all citizens, ensure that broadband service is affordable, and detail how broadband can help tackle “national purposes” such as health care delivery, educational opportunity, energy efficiency, and others. Part of the national purposes section of the law includes the terms “entrepreneurial activity,” “investment,” “job creation,” and “economic growth.”


That brings us directly to small businesses -- a driving force in our economy. As a primary source of job creation in this country, small businesses have created over 93 percent of all net new jobs -- more than 22 million -- over the past 15 years. Home-based entrepreneurs employed more than 13 million people in 2008. And according to the Small Business Administration, as many as 650,000 new small businesses are created every year. 


Broadband is critical to helping small businesses operate more efficiently and compete globally. For example, in Diller, Nebraska, a rural phone company with only 800 customers, upgraded to broadband and enabled a local business, Blue Valley Meats, to set up a Web site and reach customers around the world with its culinary offerings.


But over 50 percent of small businesses are still without Web sites. Many small businesses do not have access to a basic broadband connection. One estimate indicates that 26 percent of rural business sites do not have access to a standard cable modem and 9 percent don’t have DSL. And many more do not have access to the high-speed, high-quality broadband connections that are critical in today’s fiercely competitive global marketplace.


There is an economic consequence to this digital exclusion. When small businesses lack adequate broadband access, they miss out on burgeoning online marketplace. Small businesses increasingly see that their revenues are linked to online activity. Online retail sales will reach $334 billion by 2012, and 20 percent of consumers go online daily to find a product or service. 


Moreover, broadband also includes mobility. Mobile broadband is vital to business operations, but too few small businesses use it today. Nearly 75 percent of small businesses have little or no mobile broadband. But fortunately, that seems to be changing. Small businesses will spend $28 billion on mobile in 2009.


I am thrilled to be here in Chicago to get input and insight from small businesses regarding opportunities surrounding broadband and how to shape our National Broadband Plan to maximize investment, entrepreneurial activity, and job creation. Thank you all for attending.

December 30, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lord Chancellor Further Explains Plans For Review of Britain's Libel Laws

According to the Media Guardian, Jack Straw's previously announced review of Britain's libel laws will "consider whether the law of libel, including the law relating to libel tourism, in England and Wales needs reform, and if so to make recommendations as to solutions". The Lord Chancellor hopes for a report early  next spring.

December 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

All the News, All the Time

The Charlie Sheen Case

Actor Charlie Sheen ("Two and a Half Men") spent part of Christmas Day in jail in Aspen, Colorado, after his wife Brooke made a 911 call alleging that he had threatened her with a knife. Mr. Sheen later made bail and flew back to Los Angeles. Here is a link to the transcript of the call. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether or how to proceed on the case; Mr. Sheen is supposed to appear in court on February 8, 2010. Here's more coverage and discussion of the case from Dan Abrams and others on the Today show.

December 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Defense Rests In Italian Google Privacy Trial

From the New York Times: news from the Italian privacy trial of Google executives.

December 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ASA Nixes British Airways Ad Featuring Canton Fair

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned a British Airways ad showing scenes of the Canton Fair because British Airways does not fly to Guangzhou, China, where the Fair takes place.

From the ruling:

The ASA noted that connections could be made to Guangzhou from Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. However, we considered that the specific focus on the Canton Fair in the voice-over and visuals, alongside the claim "Right now, somewhere in the world, is a great business opportunity. And no one can fly you to more of them, direct from the UK, than British Airways", would be understood by consumers to mean that the Canton Fair was one of the business opportunities that BA flew direct to from the UK. Because we understood that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.

The ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1, 5.1.2 and 5.1.3 (Misleading advertising).

December 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

ASA Finds BT Vision Ad On Movies Misleading

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned an ad by BT Vision seeming to claim to air movies before BSkyB makes them available. ASA received complaints from BSkyB and from viewers, reviewed the ad, and found the ad misleading. 

From the ruling:

The ASA understood that BT Vision was an on-demand service, available to BT Total Broadband customers. We understood those customers could either opt to pay a monthly fee in order to access a library of on-demand content at no extra cost (which included films but not the new releases promoted in the ad, for which there was an additional charge) or choose to pay on a per programme basis for any on-demand content, including new film releases, as well as having access to regular television. We understood that Sky Box Office was an add-on service available to Sky subscribers, which also made programmes and films available to customers on a pay-per-programme basis. We understood that Sky Movies were rolling film channels with particular themes, such as Sky Movies Family or Sky Movies Action and Horror, which could be available to viewers with Sky or other digital TV providers, depending on whether customers had opted into them as part of their package. We understood that films on Sky Movies did not have to be paid for individually but could not be watched at the time of a viewer's choosing unless the viewer also had the facility (available with some types of subscription) to pause live TV, whereas new film releases on BT Vision and Sky Box Office did have to be paid for individually but could be watched at a time of the viewer's choosing.

We noted that new films were generally released first in cinemas and would then become available via on demand services such as BT Vision and Sky Box Office, before becoming available on dedicated film TV channels such as Sky Movies. We considered that, because the distinction between Sky Movies and Sky Box Office was unlikely to be clear to all viewers, the claim "BT Vision is a clever way to watch TV on demand ... choose from new film releases like Slumdog Millionaire before they're shown on Sky Movies" was likely to give the misleading impression that it was possible to see new movies on BT Vision before they were released on Sky. We noted on-screen text stating "New release films are available on Sky Box Office at the same time as BT Vision" but concluded this was insufficient to avoid the misleading impression given by the ad as a whole.

On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.3 (Misleading advertising) 5.4.2 (Misleading advertising: superimposed text) and 5.4.6 (Misleading advertising: comparative advertising).


We considered that, because in terms of the on-demand availability of new release films, the most similar Sky service to BT Vision was Sky Box Office, whereas the comparison drawn was between BT Vision and Sky Movies, the ad was likely to mislead by giving viewers the impression that they would be able to see new movies more quickly with BT Vision than with Sky when that was not the case. We noted on-screen text stating "New release films are available on Sky Box Office at the same time as BT Vision" but concluded that was insufficient to remove the overall impression that new release films were available more quickly with BT than with Sky. We concluded that the comparison was likely to mislead.

On this point the ad breached CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rules 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.1.3 (Misleading advertising) 5.4.2 (Misleading advertising: superimposed text) and 5.4.6 (Misleading advertising: comparative advertising).

December 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Court Nixes Singer Boy George's Appearance On "Celebrity Big Brother"

Singer Boy George will not be allowed to appear on Celebrity Big Brother next month, since he is still serving part of a 15-month prison sentence for false imprisonment. In rejecting his request, the judge said, "I consider that right-thinking members of the public would take the view that an offender serving the non-custodial part of a sentence of imprisonment should not be allowed to take part in a high profile, controversial television production, promoting his status as a celebrity and with considerable financial gain." Boy George, whose real name is George O'Dowd, had hoped to appear on the show to continue rebuilding his reputation.

December 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Verizon Doesn't Get Christmas Wish For a TRO

Verizon asked a federal judge for a restraining order against a former employee who now works for rival Allied Wireless Communication Corporation, citing trade secret concerns, but Judge James M. Moody noted that some of the information the company cited as proprietary is generally known. He also noted that the rest of the information the former employee has is not likely to be disclosed. The employee, Lewis Langston III, left Verizon, to become CIO at Allied Wireless. Here's a link to the order.

December 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Jose Feliciano Holiday Song Parody Removed From Website

Two radio producers who created a parody of Jose Feliciano's famous Christmas song "Feliz Navidad" have apologized to the singer after Mr. Feliciano registered his complaints about the take-off. Matt Fox and A. J. Rice created "The Alien Immigrant Christmas Song" and posted it first to, a conservative site, and later uploaded it to YouTube. Mr. Feliciano has received apologies from those at Read more here.

December 27, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Holidays

Media Law Prof will be away until December 27. Have a safe and pleasant holiday season.

December 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BBC Apologizes To Listeners For F-Word From "Rage Against the Machine"

The BBC has apologized to listeners over foul language that its listeners heard on-the-air from band Rage Against the Machine, even though network officials had gone over on air protocols with members of the band beforehand. When singer Zack de la Rocha cut loose with unacceptable language from the band's song "Killing in the Name," host Shelagh Fogarty cut off the interview. Some listeners thought the network and the show's hosts should have expected the outcome. Read more here.

December 17, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Australia Adopts Filtering To Block Obscene Internet Sites

The AP reports that Australia is adopting an aggressive system to block websites linked to obscenity and crime, even though there is evidence that such a system may not work and is likely to restrict personal freedom. The system may take up to a year to put into place. Read more here.

December 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Judge Dismisses Charges Against Broadcom Execs

U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney has dismissed charges of backdating stock options against former Broadcom executives Henry Nicholas III and William Ruehle, saying that the government pressured witnesses to testify against the defendants. The prosecution said it was disappointed in the outcome. Read more here in a Wall Street Journal article.

December 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)