Friday, June 17, 2011
From the Guardian: A British juror who communicated via Facebook with one of two defendants during deliberations has been sentenced to eight months for contempt. She faced up to two years in jail. Commentators believe that the case is the first involving a juror communication via the Internet. The solicitor general noted that the trial judge's instructions to the jury concerning the prohibition on contact with other parties including the defendants could not have been clearer. The defendant, who was acquitted of drug charges in the earlier trial, was also found guilty of contempt. The other defendant is appealing his conviction on grounds of jury misconduct. Read a transcript of the communications here.
Scotland's First Minister Offers Bill To Halt Religious Hatred, But Proposed Legislation May Go Too Far
From the Guardian: Critics are accusing Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, of trying to push through legislation that would, among other things, criminalize the use of social media to foster religious hatred. A new bill being consider would classify as religious harassment singing offensive songs at sporting events or sending bigoted messages via the Internet. Both the Church of Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland say the bill may be overly broad. More here from the BBC.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Robert A. Sedler, Wayne State University Law School, has published Self-Censorship and the First Amendment in volume 25 of the Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy (2011). Here is the abstract.
Self-censorship refers to the decision by an individual or group to refrain from speaking and to the decision by a media organization to refrain from publishing information. Whenever an individual or group or the media engages in self-censorship, the values of the First Amendment are compromised, because the public is denied information or the expression of ideas that the public would have received were it not for the self-censorship. It should not be surprising, therefore, that the principles, doctrines and precedents of what I have referred to as “the law of the First Amendment” are designed to prevent self-censorship due to the fear of governmental sanctions against expression. Self-censorship due to the fear of governmental sanctions against expression may be denominated “self-censorship bad.”
At the same time, the First Amendment also embodies a right to silence, and the right to remain silent is also a value of the First Amendment. The values embodied in the First Amendment right to silence support self-censorship in the sense that an individual or group may decide to refrain from speaking and the media may decide to refrain from publishing, because they believe that the public interest is better served by the decision to refrain from speaking than by the decision to speak and by the decision to refrain from publishing than by the decision to publish. This form of self-censorship may be denominated “self-censorship good.”
In this writing, we will first discuss “self-censorship bad.” Here we will discuss the principles, doctrines and precedents of the First Amendment that are designed to prevent self-censorship due to the fear of governmental sanctions against expression. We will see that in their totality, these principles, doctrines and precedents comprise a major part of the “law of the First Amendment,” and stand as a bulwark against “self-censorship bad.” We will then discuss “self-censorship good” in the context of media organizations exercising their editorial discretion to refuse to publish certain information. Here will use two examples. The first is the refusal of the media to identify victims of rape and other sexual offenses. The second is the refusal of the media to disclose certain information on ground that the disclosure of the information would cause serious harm to the national security. In this connection, we will review at length the process by which the media makes the decision to refuse to disclose information on national security grounds. We will conclude by relating “self-censorship bad” and “self-censorship good” to the values of the First Amendment and the function of the First Amendment in the Nation’s constitutional system.
Download the full text from SSRN at the link.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Numerous media are reporting the arrest of two men for conspiring to murder singer Joss Stone. Police detained them near her home on June 13; they had weapons and a body bag, suggesting that they had prepared for a serious crime. More here from the Daily Telegraph.
From the Editors of CommLaw Conspectus
CommLaw Conspectus: Journal of Communications Law and Policy is currently seeking submissions for publication in its Volume 20 editions. CommLaw Conspectus publishes thoughtful, timely, and useful articles that discuss recent developments in communications law and policy. The journal welcomes articles, essays, and book reviews written by scholars, practitioners, and other leading experts in the field of communications law.
CommLaw Conspectus is a semiannual publication. Articles published in CommLaw Conspectus typically consist of lengthy explanations and criticisms of an area of the law while essays tend to be much shorter and discuss or seek to initiate a discussion in an area of communications law. A typical issue contains three to four lead articles written by communications law scholars and practitioners and three to four student notes and comments. In addition, we periodically publish essays, book reviews, a bibliography of recent communications law books, and summaries of major communications law cases and FCC dockets.
CommLaw Conspectus follows citation conventions described in THE BLUEBOOK: A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION. Submissions should conform as much as possible with this style guide.
Authors are usually notified of a publication decision between one and six weeks after a submission is received. In order to expedite the review of manuscripts, the journal strongly recommends that all submissions be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have written a manuscript about a topic of current interest in the field of communications law or policy, we invite you to submit your writing to CommLaw Conpsectus. Please note that submissions will not be returned.
James J. Woodruff III, Florida Coastal School of Law, has published Freedom of Speech & Election Day at the Polls: Thou Doth Protest Too Much. Here is the abstract.
Every election cycle, voters who go to the polls are faced with a myriad of restrictions on what they can say, wear, and display. This article asks and seeks to answer, what are the actual limits the government can place on political speech at and around the polling place?
The full text is not available from SSRN.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
From BBC News: a report that yet another female blogger has turned out to be a man. "Paula Brooks," the supposed lesbian co-owner of the blog LezGetReal, is really US Air Force vet Bill Graber. More here from Slate. Mr. Graber announced he would turn over the running of the site to blogger Linda LaVictoire. Apparently Mr. Graber wrote as a female blogger for three years, and during that time exchanged views with "Amina Arraf," (in reality Scottish graduate student Tom MacMaster) without knowing her real identity. Meanwhile, the University of Edinburgh has launched an investigation into Mr. MacMaster's activities.
Eldar Haber, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, has published The French Revolution 2.0: Copyright and the Three Strikes Policy at 2 Harvard Journal of Sports & Entertainment Law 297 (2011). Here is the abstract.
Internet file-sharing of copyrighted materials created a struggle between right holders, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and file-sharers. After several different attempts to resolve the struggle, many countries began to debate the possibility of a Three Strikes Policy (3SP), which includes, inter alia, providing for the termination of subscriptions and accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances. This policy has thus far been implemented by way of legislation in Taiwan (2009), South Korea (2009), France (2010), the United Kingdom (2010) and New Zealand (2011), and by means of private ordering in Ireland (2010). It is still under consideration elsewhere. The 3SP is portrayed as a panacea for Internet-related infringements.
This article examines the legal, social, and economic implications of implementing the 3SP as a solution to copyright infringements through file-sharing. I discuss the potential impact on the right to privacy, due process rights and free speech. I locate the 3SP within the emerging framework of Users' Rights and criticize it. I argue that the 3SP is an inappropriate attempt to strengthen right holders' power over users and might reshuffle and jeopardize the balance set in the copyright regime between the interests of authors and those of the public. I therefore propose an alternative version of the 3SP. Furthermore, I argue that the 3SP is yet another link in a chain of a criminal paradigm set in copyrights, meaning that some copyright law policies will probably continue to shape in accordance with criminal law, despite copyright’s civil law rationales. I claim that this paradigm shift in copyright law will continue through global legislation. Finally, I conclude that the 3SP is not the proper means for resolving illegal file-sharing issues. Rather, it is an inappropriate attempt to fight copyright infringements and should not be implemented anywhere, at least not yet.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
From the Hollywood Reporter: Both NBC and Tina Fey, the executive producer of "30 Rock", have apologized for Tracy Morgan's recent anti-gay remarks. The network's Robert Greenblatt said that while NBC recognizes talent's right to express itself, the network does not accept the artist's right to express itself recklessly no matter what the context. He said that the network had "made it clear" to Mr. Morgan that his comments fell into that category. Ms. Fey said she was happy that Mr. Morgan had apologized but also that while comedians "may have the right to "'work out'" material live, Mr. Morgan's remarks were "disturbing" to her. She seemed to try to inject some levity into the situation by adding Mr. Morgan's comments did not seem to square with the man she knows, and that he "is generally much too sleepy and self-centered to ever hurt another person."
...This time last Friday at the International Monetary Fund (coverage from the NYT), which can ill afford more notoriety, after the arrest last month of former head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The breach is described as "major." More coverage and analysis here (Wall Street Journal), and here (BBC News).
From the June 12th New York Times, an article on a U. S. administration effort to circumvent censorship of telecommunications networks. Say reporters James Glantz and John Markoff, "The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks." More here.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Remember that "Hangover II" copyright infringement case invovling the tattoo on Ed Helms' face? The studio, Warner Brothers, now says it has plans to alter the tattoo if the case doesn't settle by the time the DVD hits stores at the end of the year. From documents submitted to the court:
If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, Warner Bros. does not intend to make any use of the allegedly infringing tattoo after the film ends its run in theaters because Warner Bros. will digitally alter the film to substitute a different tattoo on Ed Helms’s face.
That solution sounds fairly costly. Mediation is set for the middle of this month. More here from The Hollywood Reporter.
Jaclyn L. C. Neo, National University of Singapore, has published Seditious in Singapore! Free Speech, Integration and the Offence of Promoting Ill-Will and Hostility Between Different Racial Groups. Here is the abstract.
In 2005, the archaic laws of sedition were summoned to counteract speech considered offensive to racial and religious groups in Singapore. Under the Sedition Act, it is seditious to, inter alia, promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population. In a later case involving religious proselytisation, a Christian couple was charged and convicted of sedition under the same section. This article examines this new phenomenon. It investigates the manner in which these laws have been employed and jurisprudentially developed to restrain speech on race and/or religion in Singapore. The article argues that the current state of the law is highly problematic for its adverse impact on free speech as well as for its conceptual confusions with alternative bases for restraining speech. It contends that failure to extricate the existing conceptual confusions is adverse to free speech and community integration in the long run. A three-fold legal framework is proposed to provide clearer guidance on inter-racial, inter-religious interaction within the Singaporean society.
The full text is not available from SSRN.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The News of the World and Sienna Miller have settled that phone hacking case. The tabloid is paying 100,000 pounds in damages for harassment and invasion of privacy and has apologized. Ms. Miller also has the opportunity to pursue legal redress should any other information obtained via the hacking activities be disclosed in future.
Meanwhile, the list of phone hacking targets may grow by at least two extremely high-profile names, according to the Guardian: former Prime Minister Tony Blair and former royal girlfriend and now royal wife Kate Middleton. The hacker is reported to have been Jonathan Rees, when he worked at the News of the World during the mid-2000s.
From the Guardian: (British) Attorney General Dominic Grieve says Tweeters who breach gag orders and reveal information that courts have ordered kept secret via injunctions could be prosecuted. However, at least one MP disagrees. Liberal Democrat John Hemming thinks it would be difficult, if not impossible, to pursue the 75,000 Twitter users who have named a Manchester United player as the party who obtained an injunction recently, and that the media should now be able to name the athlete--the horse having escaped the barn. MP Hemming doesn't think he could be prosecuted either (Parliamentary privilege). But a judge handed down a ruling Monday refusing to allow the Sun newspaper to name the player. Round three.
Ellen S. Podgor, Stetson University School of Law, has published 100 Years of White Collar Crime in 'Twitter' at 30 Review of Litigation 533 (2011). Here is the abstract.
Despite the fact that Twitter did not exist when the term “white collar crime” was coined in 1939, it is an interesting exercise to highlight the last 100 years of white collar criminal activity using “tweets.” In so doing, this Essay tries to capture some of the key events that have been prominent in the white collar world.
This Essay first examines corporate criminal liability, looks next at individual liability, and then discusses key statutes and crimes that have been used in the prosecution of white collar criminal activity. In this regard, mail fraud, RICO, and perjury are examined. Sentencing issues and how they have influenced the treatment of white collar crime are tweeted. The ultimate goal of this fictional presentation is to demonstrate a historical overview of white collar crime happenings and is so doing evaluate its progression over time.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Christian Bruns and Oliver Himmler, both University of Goettingen, have published Newspaper Circulation and Local Government Efficiency at 113 Scandinavian Journal of Economics 470 (2011). Here is the abstract.
In this paper, we examine the role of the newspaper market for a key aspect of political accountability: the efficient use of public funds by elected politicians. Newspapers are a major provider of the political information voters use to monitor their elected officials, especially at the local level. Thus, the incentives for politicians to reduce budgetary slack should be stronger in jurisdictions where the electorate is well informed by newspapers. Using panel data on the circulation of some 150 newspapers in Norwegian municipalities, we show that increases in local newspaper circulation are associated with higher levels of local government efficiency.
The full text is not available from SSRN.