Monday, December 7, 2009
In creating "Jersey Shore" and "Find My Family" reality tv types seem to have crossed some lines. And we thought there weren't any more lines to be crossed. MTV, which is premiering "Jersey Shore," has already run into trouble with advertiser Domino's Pizza and groups representing Italian-Americans. And ABC's "Find My Family," a show about adoptees in search of their biological roots, seems to have run into what looks like a buzzsaw of complaints from adoption advocates. Read more in a New York Times article by Edward Wyatt.
From the New York Times, on the GE/Comcast deal over NBC/Universal:
With technology changing Americans’ media experience at breakneck speed, it might seem quaint to worry about the merger of an old-style cable company with a beleaguered broadcast TV company. But there is much to be concerned about in Comcast’s proposed takeover of NBC and its sister company Universal Studios.
The pairing of the nation’s largest cable company with one of the leading television broadcasters, which also owns several popular cable networks, could limit choices and raise prices for viewers and advertisers. As they evaluate the proposed merger, antitrust and communications watchdog agencies should also consider the risks to the emerging business of delivering video entertainment over the Internet — the main competitive threat to cable TV.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
U.S. Senator Ben Cardin has introduced The Newspaper Revitalization Act, which if passed would amend three sections of the Internal Revenue Code to expressly allow newspapers to become tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. This paper explores the question of why from a First Amendment standpoint the public might wish struggling newspapers to restructure as tax-exempt organizations in spite of the proliferation of news sources now available. It also explores some of the problems that would or could accompany tax-exempt status and evaluates how seriously we should take those concerns.
Specifically, this paper discusses the basics of Cardin's proposal; why a Madisonian or marketplace model of free speech might compel the passage of this legislation; and arguments by those who suggest that citizen journalism or other models of newsgathering can replace newspapers. It also looks at potential drawbacks to the legislation, such as constitutional challenges based on viewpoint discrimination; whether newspapers will have to abandon editorial page endorsements or can structure their business models to keep them; potential increased scrutiny of reporters' objectivity; and the potential for newspapers to appear state-controlled rather than independent.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Kazemi was 54 when she died in Iranian custody on July 11, 2003, almost three weeks after she was arrested for taking pictures outside a prison during a student protest in Tehran. In March 2005, Shahram Azam, a former staff physician in Iran's Defence Ministry said he had examined Kazemi in hospital four days after her arrest and found signs of torture - a very brutal rape, skull fracture, broken fingers, missing fingernails, a crushed big toe and a broken nose.
Her son brought the case against the government of Iran. Here's more.
A libel plaintiff sued an American defendant in a foreign nation where he took advantage of plaintiff-favoring defamation law to obtain a hefty judgment. He brings this judgment to the defendant’s State in the United States to collect from her bank account. The defendant’s State’s court could not have entered the plaintiff’s judgment because of First-Amendment doctrines that stem from New York Times v. Sullivan.
How should the United States court respond to the “libel tourist” and his judgment? My succinct article summarizes the tangled tale that emerges. Invoking a public policy exception to comity, United States courts have rejected foreign-nation defamation judgments. State legislation has buttressed these decisions. A Bill has been introduced in Congress to repel these judgments at the water’s edge. Against this tide, my article maintains that courts in the United States ought to take a more nuanced approach and recognize at least some overseas defamation judgments.
This draft article is in press at the Washington and Lee Law Review and at the Faculty of Law, Aix-Provence, France. It will undergo the usual editorial processes. The draft that follows was presented to the Remedies Discussion Forum at the Faculty of Law, Aix-Provence in the spring of 2009.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Britain's Justice Minister Says Libel Laws Will Be Reformed; They Are Having Chilling Effect On Free Speech
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The issue of what discriminatory use of a network means has arisen in two recent decisions of the United States and Canadian federal communications commissions, the FCC and the CRTC respectively. The topic is a contemporary and hotly debated one, as when a course is fixed it will strongly influence the future of the Internet. It can be stated as the dichotomy of open and competitive or closed and oligopolistic. A study and comparison of the two different approaches is vital to clarify the debate, and hopefully guide Canadian policy in a direction that will benefit the whole community.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Freedom of expression in Uganda has been subject to a number of restrictions since colonial period to date. However in 1986 when the NRM government under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni came into power, there was a paradigm shift into a more liberal approach to the enjoyment of this freedom. A new constitution was promulgated which guaranteed the right to freedom of expression and right of access to information in the possession of the state. One may safely argue that these provisions were domesticated into Ugandan law as a result of ratification of international covenants.These freedoms have however been restricted especially when the media, both electronic and print, have engaged government in political debate, dialogue or criticism. These constitutional guarantees have been restricted by the enactment of punitive laws and creation of institutions meant to suppress media houses and restrict access to information. This has created a situation of self censorship among the media houses as opposed to their primary role of dissemination of information and watch dog to government excesses, a cornerstone to their contribution to democracy. This paper seeks to discus the historical evolution of this freedom in Uganda and examine the legal regime governing press freedom and identify the legal and other practical limitations to the full enjoyment of this right.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
The Federal Trade Commission is hosting a workshop on the future of journalism. From the FTC website, here's more:
The Federal Trade Commission will hold two days of workshops on December 1 and 2, 2009, to explore how the Internet has affected journalism. The event is free and open to the public. The workshop will assemble representatives from print, online, broadcast and cable news organizations, academics, consumer advocates, bloggers, and other new media representatives.
Updates regarding the December 1 and 2, 2009 workshops, including an agenda and panelists will be posted on this webpage, or can be accessed via RSS Feed from this webpage.
Due to the large number of pre-registrants, we anticipate that the FTC's Conference Center will reach full capacity. Pre-registration does not guarantee seating, and attendees will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 8 a.m. each day. Please remember to bring a picture ID. Once the Conference Center is full, attendees will be directed to an overflow room located in the FTC Headquarters building at 600 Pennsylvania, Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20580. The workshop will also be webcast via a link on this webpage.
In writing The Fixer, Bernard Malamud plagiarized from Mendel Beilis’s memoir and debased the memories of Beilis and his wife. This short essay corrects the record.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.
Novelist Haywood Smith lost a defamation by fiction case in a Georgia court last week. The plaintiff, Vickie Stewart, claimed that one of the characters in the book The Red Hat Society too closely resembled her, and the jury agreed, awarding her $100,000 in damages. However, she did not get attorneys' fees.
According to the Gainesville Times, the judge instructed the jury that under Georgia law, "In order to find libel, a jury must find that a publication contains false and defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff that were communicated to a third party, that the person making the statements was negligent by not exercising ordinary care in making them, and that the plaintiff was injured by the statements."
The author has said she will not appeal.