Wednesday, August 31, 2011
The First Circuit has upheld an individual's right to videotape police "engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilies," under the First Amendment, in Glik v. Cunniffe. Simon Glik, a Boston attorney, taped police arresting a man on Boston Common. When officers saw Mr. Glik taping them, one of them said to him, "I think you have taken enough pictures." He did not stop, and eventually they took him into custody as well. After the Commonwealth dismissed several charges against him, and a court dismissed other charges. Mr. Glik filed a complaint with the Police Department, and eventually filed a suit against the department. The District Court found in his favor. The Department appealed.
Said the First Circuit,
The First Amendment issue here is, as the parties frame it, fairly narrow: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative.
It is firmly established that the First Amendment's aegis extends further than the text's proscription on laws "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press," and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, "the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw." ... An important corollary to this interest in protecting the stock of public information is that "[t]here is an undoubted right to gather news 'from any source by means within the law.'"...
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting "the free discussion of governmental affairs." Moreover, as the Court has noted, "[f]reedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government because '[i]t is here that the state has a special incentive to repress opposition and often wields a more effective power of suppression.'" ... This is particularly true of law enforcement officials, who are granted substantial discretion that may be misused to deprive individuals of their liberties.
In line with these principles, we have previously recognized that the videotaping of public officials is an exercise of First Amendment liberties. In Iacobucci v. Boulter, 193 F.3d 14 (1st Cir. 1999), a local journalist brought a § 1983 claim arising from his arrest in the course of filming officials in the hallway outside a public meeting of a historic district commission. The commissioners had objected to the plaintiff's filming.... When the plaintiff refused to desist, a police officer on the scene arrested him for disorderly conduct. ...The charges were later dismissed.... Although the plaintiff's subsequent § 1983 suit against the arresting police officer was grounded largely in the Fourth Amendment and did not include a First Amendment claim, we explicitly noted, in rejecting the officer's appeal from a denial of qualified immunity, that because the plaintiff's journalistic activities "were peaceful, not performed in derogation of any law, and done in the exercise of his First Amendment rights, [the officer] lacked the authority to stop them." ...
Our recognition that the First Amendment protects the filming of government officials in public spaces accords with the decisions of numerous circuit and district courts.
It is of no significance that the present case, unlike Iacobucci and many of those cited above, involves a private individual, and not a reporter, gathering information about public officials. The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public's right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. ...Indeed, there are several cases involving private individuals among the decisions from other courts recognizing the First Amendment right to film.... Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.
To be sure, the right to film is not without limitations. It may be subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions. ... We have no occasion to explore those limitations here, however. On the facts alleged in the complaint, Glik's exercise of his First Amendment rights fell well within the bounds of the Constitution's protections. Glik filmed the defendant police officers in the Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States and the apotheosis of a public forum. In such traditional public spaces, the rights of the state to limit the exercise of First Amendment activity are "sharply circumscribed." ...Moreover, as in Iacobucci, the complaint indicates that Glik "filmed [the officers] from a comfortable remove" and "neither spoke to nor molested them in any way" (except in directly responding to the officers when they addressed him). ... Such peaceful recording of an arrest in a public space that does not interfere with the police officers' performance of their duties is not reasonably subject to limitation.
In our society, police officers are expected to endure significant burdens caused by citizens' exercise of their First Amendment rights.... Indeed, "[t]he freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state." ...
Though the "clearly established" inquiry does "not require a case directly on point,"... we have such a case in Iacobucci. What is particularly notable about Iacobucci is the brevity of the First Amendment discussion, a characteristic found in other circuit opinions that have recognized a right to film government officials or matters of public interest in public space. ...This terseness implicitly speaks to the fundamental and virtually self-evident nature of the First Amendment's protections in this area. ...We thus have no trouble concluding that "the state of the law at the time of the alleged violation gave the defendant[s] fair warning that [their] particular conduct was unconstitutional."
In summary, though not unqualified, a citizen's right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public space is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment. Accordingly, we hold that the district court did not err in denying qualified immunity to the appellants on Glik's First Amendment claim.
Read the entire opinion here.
The Department of Justice has filed a suit to prevent AT&T from acquiring T-Mobile, and thus, according to DOJ's statement, "substantially lessen[ing] competition for mobile wireless telecommunications services across the United States, resulting in higher prices, poorer quality services, fewer choices and fewer innovative products for the millions of American consumers who rely on mobile wireless services in their everyday lives." AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon are the four companies controlling ninety percent of the wireless market in the U.S. Deutsche Telekom presently owns T-Mobile.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole made the announcement at a press conference today. He said in part:
The Department filed its lawsuit because we believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower quality products for their mobile wireless services.
Consumers across the country, including those in rural areas and those with lower incomes, have benefitted from competition among the nation’s wireless carriers, particularly the four remaining national carriers. This lawsuit seeks to ensure that everyone can continue to reap the benefits of that competition.
Right now, four nationwide providers account for more than 90 percent of the mobile wireless connections in America, and preserving competition among them is crucial. For instance, AT&T and T-Mobile currently compete head-to-head in 97 of the nation’s largest 100 cellular marketing areas. They also compete nationwide to attract business and government customers. Were the merger to proceed, there would only be three providers with 90 percent of the market, and competition among the remaining competitors on all dimensions—including price, quality, and innovation—would be diminished.
As can be seen in the Department’s complaint, AT&T felt competitive pressure from T-Mobile. One example cites an AT&T employee observing that “[T-Mobile] was first to have HSPA+ devices in their portfolio…we added them in reaction to potential loss of speed claims.”
So as you can see, a merged AT&T and T-Mobile would combine two of the four largest competitors in the marketplace, and would eliminate T-Mobile, an aggressive competitor, from the market.
More here from Reuters.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) is asking his fellow Representatives and Senators to take action to clear up the copyright regime. More on Rep. Conyers and others' reactions to the "reclaiming their rights" movement here in an article from the New York Times.
Monday, August 29, 2011
A Missouri judge has issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the State of Missouri from enforcing 162.069.4 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, which forbids a teacher to "establish, maintain, or use a non-work-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student." Plaintiffs, the Missouri State Teachers Association, had sued to block the law, passed last spring. The judge found that the law would have a "chilling effect" on speech. More here from Reuters.
Souichirou Kozuka, Gakushuin University, has published Reforming Japanese Copyright and Content Distribution Laws: The Commodification of ‘Cool Japan’? Here is the abstract.
Since 2006, a few proposals have been made in Japan for the reform of copyright regime. These proposals have a common aim of promoting the distribution of content and facilitating the entertainment industry. The agenda is very unique to Japan, as most other countries are more concerned about the protection and enforcement of copyright in the digital environment (whether good or bad) than the promoted distribution of copyrighted works. However, a closer look at the entertainment industry in Japan reveals that the problem lies with the structure of the industry, such as the absence of new entrants to the distribution channel and the poor working conditions of the creators. Therefore, it is doubtful that the proposed reform of copyright regime, even if adopted, will successfully facilitate the Japanese entertainment industry.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Hendrik Gommer, Tilburg Law School, has published Thou Shalt Not Share? Biological Notions in Intellectual Property Law at 2011 Berichten Industriële Eigendom 160. Here is the abstract.
Music companies do not want to share the music they own without being recompensed. As P2P users do not pay for copyrighted music, they infringe copyright law. However, P2P users claim that music companies are “intermeddling usurpers” that initiate lawsuits against fans and enrich themselves through “unfair domination over audiences”. James Grimmelmann argues that the claims of either side as well as a number of other claims are essentially rhetorical constructs: “Perhaps philosophers might try to give one of those claims a firm grounding.”
In this article this problem of grounding is analyzed from the biological law theory perspective that was described in A Biological Theory of Law. According to that theory, our ethical considerations are based on the reproductive potential of our genes. As that potential is highest when we cooperate in groups, we should seek (and find) this ethical foundation in how group behavior can optimize survival. The theory connects to one of the assumptions of game theory Oliver Goodenough and Gregory Decker refer to, namely “that our social judgments are often rooted in dilemmas around cooperative opportunities”.
Society needs creators to develop. It also needs creations to be imitated and shared. This is why it is as important to honor and reward the creators as it is to imitate and share their work. The default ethical vision of copyright law is that exchanges must be “voluntary on both sides, reciprocal and respectful”. At the same time creators are expected to share their new discoveries. Music companies are facilitators, not creators. They are in the trading business, so they need to be smart about how they trade their goods. In the 1970s it was smart to make albums that could not be copied easily (LPs). Nowadays it is smart to use the Internet as an outlet.
Sharing is fundamental to people and it cannot easily be suppressed. In addition, the goal of United States Constitution is “to promote the progress of science and useful arts”. To that end, creators need to be honored and rewarded. Lawsuits against P2P sharers or facilitators will be counterproductive. Biological law theory predicts that the prohibition of P2P sharing (or of facilitating P2P sharing) will eventually not hold. It runs counter to strong biological urges and predispositions that bind society together. Music companies should develop smart alternative trade systems for making money with the products of our honored creators.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
The U. S. District Court for the District of Connecticut has granted a defendant's motion to dismiss in a "hot news" case, agreeing that it has no jurisdiction in the matter, based on lack of personal jurisdiction.
In West World Media v. Ikamobile, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant created an app that makes movie showtimes available to users for free, thus appropriating the plaintiff's time sensitive information. Ikamobile charges advertisers in order to recoup the costs of the app. To determine whether the court had jurisdiction over Ikamobile, the court examined Connecticut's long arm statute to see whether Ikamobile "solicit[s] business" in the state.
In the present case, Ikamobile’s conduct does not suggest soliciting business in Connecticut to the degree that the conduct of the defendants in Thomason and Powder Coating Consultants suggested it, but on the other hand, its conduct is not as clearly removed from soliciting business as the conduct of the defendants in Am. Wholesalers Underwriting and Milne. Ikamobile specifically gathers information about movie listings and show times at theaters in Connecticut, so it cannot be said that Ikamobile does not mention Connecticut. Nor can it be said that while the information on the website can be viewed in Connecticut, it does not target people who patronize theaters in Connecticut. It is fair to say that Ikamobile has engaged in affirmative measures to make its website attractive to customers of movie theaters in Connecticut. However, Ikamobile’s website does not target individuals who patronize theaters in Connecticut as potential customers from whom Ikamobile hopes to get business. Although Ikamobile conveys information to customers of movie theaters in Connecticut, it does not do so for the purpose of soliciting or continuing to get business from Connecticut consumers, but instead, does so for the purpose of soliciting and continuing to get business from Ikamobile’s advertisers, who give or will give business to Ikamobile because of the information Ikamobile puts on its website. The fact that Ikamobile places on its website information that would be of interest to Connecticut consumers is presumably used by Ikamobile in soliciting business from its advertisers and potential advertisers on the website, but that is not the same as Ikamobile soliciting business from Connecticut consumers. Thus, Ikamobile’s actions do not constitute solicitation of business in Connecticut and it has not purposefully availed itself of the laws of the State of
Connecticut as contemplated by § 33-929(f)(2). Accordingly, the court concludes that it does not have long arm jurisdiction over Ikamobile.
C. Danielle Vinson has published A Tale of Two Senators: Using Media to Gain Influence in the Senate as an APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper.
This paper is an attempt to learn more about how senators use the media to enhance their influence in policymaking. Using content analysis of both newspaper and television coverage and interviews, I examine the cases of two relatively junior senators — Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, both Republicans from South Carolina — to investigate the strategic decisions involved in going public, the reasons for choosing that strategy, and the effects of that strategy. The paper tests the theory that politicians use the media to compensate for institutional weaknesses and enhance their influence over policy and politics. I find that media attention is certainly a source of power in the Senate, and it is available to even the most junior senators. And although their success is not guaranteed, senators can adapt going public to different goals, and there are multiple paths to gaining media attention. The results of the study reveal the changing nature of power and the tools for asserting power in the US Senate. As Graham put it, thanks to the media, “a new senator doesn’t have to wait two years to say hello in the Senate anymore.”
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
From the Journal of Media Law: the table of contents for volume 3, issue 1 (2011)
THE JOURNAL OF MEDIA LAW
Volume 3 . Issue 1 . 2011
Hart Publishing is very pleased to let you know that Issue 1 of the 2011 volume of The Journal of Media Law is now published.
Please see below for the table of contents, information about online access and details on how to subscribe.
Please click here to view the PDF flyer
Comment and Analysis
Worth the Candle? The Government’s Draft Defamation Bill
Alastair Mullis and Andrew Scott
The Nature of Responsible Journalism
Balancing Rights and the Margin of Appreciation: Article 10, Breach of Confidence and Success Fees
Shielding Anonymous Speakers on US News Websites
Anthony L Fargo
Suspicion, Investigation and Truth: A Continuing Evolution in English Defamation Law
Peter B Kutner
The Illusion of Safety: The Right to Privacy of Sex Offenders
Ian Walden and Lorna Woods
Alan Durant, Meaning in the Media
Paul Goldstein and Bernt Hugenholtz, International Copyright: Principles, Law, and Practice; and Michel M Walter and Silke Von Lewinski (eds), European Copyright Law: A Commentary
Rosalind McInnes, Scots Law for Journalists
Giles Crown, Oliver Bray and Rupert Earle, Advertising Law and Regulation
To access this issue online, read the abstracts and purchase individual papers please click here.
For further information about The Journal of Media Law, please click here.
If you have any questions please contact Hart Publishing.
Hart Publishing, 16C Worcester Place, Oxford OX1 2JW, UK
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Thursday, August 25, 2011
Timothy ZIck, William & Mary Law School, has published Falsely Shouting Fire in a Global Theater: Emerging Complexities of Trans-Border Expression in volume 65 of the Vanderbilt Law Review. Here is the abstract.
In Schenck v. United States (1919), Justice Holmes wrote that “the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.” Owing to globalization, the digitization of expression, and other modern conditions a metaphorical global theater is emerging. In this theater, speakers’ voices and the physical and psychological effects of domestic expressive activities will frequently traverse or transcend territorial borders. This Article draws upon several recent events -- the Quran burning in Florida, the international reaction to an Internet posting calling for a “Draw Mohammed Day” event, the criminalization of the provision of expressive assistance to designated foreign terrorist organizations, the posting of potentially inciting speech on the Internet, and the WikiLeaks disclosures -- to examine how First Amendment doctrines relating to offensive expression, incitement, hostile audiences, treason, and the distribution of secret or potentially harmful information might apply in the global theater.
The Article makes four general claims or observations regarding these doctrines. First, although in rare instances the government could punish domestic incitement that causes harmful extraterritorial effects, in general expression that breaches global peace or order by producing distant offense and other harms ought to remain fully protected in the global theater. Second, owing to the instantaneous trans-border flow of offensive and incendiary expression, speakers will frequently have to assess in advance whether they are willing to risk the possibility of harm from distant threats, while officials will need to consider whether to offer some protection to domestic speakers in response to explicit threats from foreign hecklers. Third, the expanding category of proscribed enemy-aiding expression, which now includes the provision of “material support” (including otherwise lawful expression) to terrorists and may include a form of cyber-treason, must be defined as narrowly as possible in the global theater. In general, laws ought to be drafted and enforced such that only intentional enemy-aiding conduct, rather than speech or expressive association, is proscribed. Fourth, with regard to the trans-border exposure of governmental secrets, the United States ought to focus primarily upon improving its processes for protecting secrecy rather than on prosecuting the publishers, whether foreign or domestic, of such information.
The Article also draws some broader free speech, association, and press lessons from recent events and controversies in the emerging global theater. Public officials, courts, and commentators must begin to think more systematically about trans-border speech, association, and press concerns. The First Amendment’s trans-border dimension must be defined and incorporated into political, legal, and constitutional discussions regarding global information flow in the twenty-first century. In the global theater, America’s exceptional regard for offensive expression will be vigorously challenged both at home and abroad. We must be prepared to explain and defend our exceptional First Amendment norms, principles, and values to both domestic and global audiences. Recent episodes confirm that core First Amendment principles, including marketplace justifications for protecting offensive speech, will retain considerable force in the global theater. The Article also discusses various lessons for the press, as it continues its transformation from a domestic information hub and local watchdog to a loosely bound international distribution network. As this transformation occurs, the press will need to be more circumspect in its reporting on matters of global concern, such as religion, and with regard to the nature and character of its relationships with some foreign sources. Moreover, the press’s own commitment to the free flow of information will be tested, as new sources and publishers, operating on different models and in pursuit of different missions, continue to materialize.
Finally, new threats to free speech and information flow will arise in the global theater. We ought to be paying more attention to the influence of private intermediaries on the trans-border flow of information, and to new forms of governmental information control such as prosecution of information distributors and extra-judicial means of punishing speakers (including targeted executions).
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
Rita Marie Cain, University of Missouri, Kansas City, Bloch School of Management, has published Food Inglorious Food: Food Safety, Food Libel and Free Speech. Here is the abstract.
The movie Food, Inc. exposed issues about food production in the United States. In the movie, a mother whose child had died from food-borne illness explained that she could not criticize "Big Food" without risk of being sued. That risk stems from "food disparagement" legislation in 13 US states. The US adopted a new federal food safety law in 2011. This paper analyzes the impact of food disparagement statutes in the US. The paper discusses the new federal food safety law, in particular, how whistleblower protections in new federal food safety law affect the enforceability of state food disparagement laws.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Niva Elkin-Koren, University of Haifa Faculty of Law, has published The Changing Nature of Books and the Uneasy Case for Copyright at 79 George Washington Law Reviwe 101 (2011). Here is the abstract.
Digital technology penetrated the publishing industry decades ago, but it was only in the past two years, that the digital revolution finally reached the book industry, as eBooks became a viable alternative to printed books.
eBooks are not simply a fancy package for buying and selling books. They are transforming print culture. They are changing the nature of books as we know them, giving rise to new social practices of writing and reading. eBooks and digital libraries are also transforming the publishing and bookselling industries, enabling new methods of production and distribution, shaking the boundaries between the traditional players, and introducing new players to the scene. While many booklovers are mourning the demise of the printed book, eBooks open up a new era, expanding the cultural, social, and economic possibilities related to books.
The rise of digital books may require a reexamination of the legal policies that regulate the book market, primarily copyright and competition law. This Article questions the wisdom and legitimacy of granting copyright to publishers as the book market enters the digital age. Part I describes the emergence of eBooks and the changing nature of book publishing in the twenty-first century. It discusses the special characteristics of digital books, the rise of user-generated content (“UGC”), and the introduction of new intermediaries. Part II revisits the justification for copyright protection in light of these changes, and discusses the implications of these changes on copyright. Copyright law, the legal regime mostly tied to the emergence of the printing press, may now come into question. With the rise of eBooks, the role of publishers is declining, and consequently the case for granting copyrights to publishers is weakening. New business models of online intermediaries, which facilitate eBook publishing, do not necessarily rely on copyright protection. The Article further examines how copyright law structures the market for eBooks and shapes relationships among the different players.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Former New York Governor and talk show host Eliot Spitzer and Slate.com are facing defamation suits over a column he wrote for the site almost exactly a year ago. Although he doesn't mention the plaintiffs by name, William Gilman and Edward McNenney say he meant them and that readers will know that. More here from the New York Times.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
On August 22, FCC Chair Julius Genachowski announced the elimination of 83 rules, including the Fairness Doctrine, as part of the agency's agenda for reform. Mr. Genachowski noted that the FCC has not applied the Doctrine for decades and does not currently support its enforcement.
Said the FCC head,
Our extensive efforts to eliminate outdated regulations are rooted in our commitment to ensure that FCC rules and policies promote a healthy climate for private investment and job creation. I’m proud of the work we are doing toward our goal of being model of excellence in government. This includes our recent commitment to act in accordance with the recent Executive Order on Regulation and Independent Agencies, which is consistent with the values and philosophy we apply at the FCC.
The elimination of the obsolete Fairness Doctrine regulations will remove an unnecessary distraction. As I have said, striking this from our books ensures there can be no mistake that what has long been a dead letter remains dead. The Fairness Doctrine holds the potential to chill free speech and the free flow of ideas and was properly abandoned over two decades ago. I am pleased we are removing these and other obsolete rules from our books.
Our work is not done. I have directed each bureau at the FCC to conduct a review of rules within their areas with the goal of eliminating or revising rules that are outdated or place needless burdens on businesses. We are also in the process of developing a retrospective review plan, pursuant to the recent Executive Order. We will continue on this regulatory reform track – thoughtfully and diligently conducting our reviews of existing rules and taking other important steps to meet our statutory obligation and mission in a way that grows our economy, creates jobs and benefits all Americans.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Cary Coglianese, University of Pennsylvania Law School, has published Federal Agency Use of Electronic Media in the Rulemaking Process as University of Pennsylvania Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 11-32. Here is the abstract.
One of the most significant powers exercised by federal agencies is their power to make rules. Given the importance of agency rulemaking, the process by which agencies develop rules has long been subject to procedural requirements aiming to advance democratic values of openness and public participation. With the advent of the digital age, government agencies have engaged in increasing efforts to make rulemaking information available online as well as to elicit public participation via electronic means of communication. How successful are these efforts? How might they be improved? In this article, I investigate agencies’ efforts to use electronic media in the rulemaking process. Drawing on a review of current agency uses of the Internet, a systematic survey of regulatory agencies’ websites, and interviews with managers at a variety of federal regulatory agencies, I identify both existing “best practices” as well as opportunities for continued improvement. The findings of this research suggest that there exist both considerable differences in how well different agencies are managing their use of electronic media as well as significant opportunities for the diffusion of best-practice innovations that some agencies have adopted. This research also provides a basis for seven key recommendations that I offer for enhancing the both the accessibility and quality of rulemaking through digital technology. A commitment to well-accepted democratic principles applicable to regulatory agencies should lead federal web designers to strive to create sites that are as accessible to ordinary citizens, including individuals with limited English proficiency, vision impairments, and low-bandwidth connections, as they are to the sophisticated repeat players in Washington policymaking circles.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Friday, August 19, 2011
PI Glenn Mulcaire has filed a lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch's News International in an attempt to continue collecting legal fees to defend himself against past, current and future criminal and civil complaints arising from the phone hacking investigations. NI had been paying Mr. Mulcaire's attorneys but has recently pulled out of an agreement to do so. More here from Hollywood Reporter. A court has ordered Mr. Mulcaire to reveal who at News of the World told him to hack the phone of six celebrities, including model Elle MacPherson.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Despite the release of a letter from Clive Goodman, a former News of the World editor convicted of phone hacking, who alleges that NOTW higher-ups knew of the practice, NOTW officers still deny that they were aware of phone hacking. Here's a timeline of denials from the Guardian.
A BBC World Service journalist is on trial in Tajikistan, accused of membership in Hizbut-Tahrir(Party of Liberation), a banned group that advocates the creation of a pan-Islamic caliphate that would rule all Muslim states. Here is more from Trend, discussing the first day of the trial.