Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

France Telecom Selling Orange Switzerland

From the New York Times: France Telecom and Apax Partners have agreed to a deal in which Apax Partners will purchase Orange Switzerland from France Telecom, subject to an okay from Swiss regulators. France Telecom announcement here.

December 25, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Great Media Gadgets For the Holidays

The Independent's David Phelan suggests some great gadgets for holiday presents. Along with the usual camera and phone, there's even--wait for it--a machine to help you floss. I want THAT! Too late to get your requests in for this year? There's always 2012.

December 22, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Swedish Journalists Found Guilty On Terrorism Charges

Two Swedish reporters who crossed the Ethiopian border with rebel forces, were arrested, and who subsequently told an Ethiopian court they came to report on the human rights situation there have been convicted on terrorism charges by the court. They could be sentenced to 15 years in prison.

December 22, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

University of Manitoba Faculty Union Warns Students Not To Post Videos Of Classes Online

The University of Manitoba Faculty Union has warned the university's students that posting videos from classes to the web violates professors' intellectual property rights. Of particular concern is the website LocAZu, which hosts a number of such videos. More here from the Winnepeg Free Press and here from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

December 21, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

AT&T Drops Plan To Merge With T-Mobile

Faced with an expensive fight, AT&T has abandoned its attempt to merge with T-Mobile. Instead of completing the $39 billion deal, AT&T will pay Deutsche Telecom a $4 billion breach of contract fee. More here from Telecoms Europe. It will also continue to work with Deutsche Telecom through a roaming arrangement for its customers. A statement from AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson cited problems with the FCC and DOJ as reasons for failure to complete the deal.

Said representatives of the Department of Justice in part:

“This result is a victory for the millions of Americans who use mobile wireless telecommunications services.  A significant competitor remains in the marketplace and consumers will benefit from a quick resolution of this matter without the unnecessary expense of taxpayer money and government resources.” 

Here's a linkto the Department of Justice news release.

December 20, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Agencies Here and Abroad Investigating E-Book Pricing

The US Department of Justice is beginning an investigation of e-book pricing, just like the EU and state attorneys general. The European Commission is investigating Apple for anti-competitive pricing, along with five e-book publishers (including Simon & Schuster and Penguin). More here from

December 20, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Defendant Who Illegally Uploaded Copy of "X-Men: Wolverine" Sentenced To One Year Prison Term

From the Hollywood Reporter: a federal district judge has sentenced Gilberto Sanchez to one year in federal prison for uploading an illegal copy of the film X-Men: Wolverine, which had not yet been released to theaters, to the site More here from

December 20, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Do Individuals Have "A Right To Be Forgotten"?

Jef Ausloos, Electronic Frontier Foundation, has published The 'Right to Be Forgotten' - Worth Remembering? in Computer Law & Security Review (2012). Here is the abstract.

In the last few years there has been a lot of buzz around a so-called ‘right to be forgotten.’ Especially in Europe, this catchphrase is heavily debated in the media, in court and by regulators. Since a clear definition has not emerged (yet), the following article will try to raise the veil on this vague concept. The first part will weigh the right's pros and cons against each other. It will appear that the ‘right to be forgotten’ clearly has merit, but needs better definition to avoid any negative consequences. As such, the right is nothing more than a way to give (back) individuals control over their personal data and make the consent regime more effective. The second part will then evaluate the potential implementation of the right. Measures are required at the normative, economical, technical, as well as legislative level. The article concludes by proposing a ‘right to be forgotten’ that is limited to data-processing situations where the individual has given his or her consent. Combined with a public-interest exception, this should (partially) restore the power balance and allow individuals a more effective control over their personal data.

Download the text from SSRN at the link.

December 19, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Somebody Get Me a Roget's

Are you an attorney who's creative, effective, dynamic, and motivated, with a track record showing innovative problem solving skills and extensive experience? If so, you might want to revise your resume immediately. You may well be all of those things, but the terms convey little or nothing about your abilities. According to Linked In, these words are the most overused words in the profiles of its 135 million users. "As one might expect, they’re terms that sound awfully nice but say almost nothing specific about a person. They’re the type of terms that are roughly the equivalent of listing “showing up to work” in your skills section," according to reporter Katy Steinmetz of

December 19, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Protecting American Designs

Jason J. Du Mont, Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property & Competition Law; Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Mark D. Janis, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, have published The Origins of American Design Protection as Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 199 and Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property & Competition Law Research Paper No. 11-18. Here is the abstract.

Design patent protection is the oldest American form of intellectual property protection for ornamental designs, but still the most enigmatic. Congress passed the first design patent legislation in 1842, operating on the assumption that existing rules for utility patents could be incorporated en masse to protect designs. This Article questions that assumption. Drawing on new archival research and historical analysis, this Article demonstrates for the first time how the design patent system originated. We analyze the international trade aspects of the first design patent legislation, linking the legislation with a brief burst of protectionist measures associated with the Whig party. We also examine technological innovations that ushered in the first major era of American industrial design in key antebellum industries, and we analyze lobbying efforts on behalf of those industries that led to proposals for early design protection, proposals that did not assume the incorporation of patent rules. We also prove for the first time how the American design patent system originated as a knock-off of British copyright and registered design legislation, and why the American system was likely forced into a patent rubric. Finally, we conclude by offering concrete suggestions for the courts and Congress to ease the design patent system back to its original roots.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

December 16, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hey! Dial It Down! FCC Issues Rules To Combat Loud TV Commercials

Pursuant to the CALM act, signed into law last year, the FCC has issued rules that will regulate the volume of television commercials beginning in December of 2012. The agency has been trying to address the problem of loud tv commercials for decades, but hasn't received the power to do so until recently. More here from the Los Angeles Times.

December 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Questions Over James Murdoch's Knowledge Of Hacker Culture At News of the World As Email Surfaces

James Murdoch has denied knowing about the extent of the phone hacking culture at the News of the World, despite having received an email and its forwarded chain from one of the tabloid's editors disclosing the practice in June of 2008. Mr. Murdoch replied to the email almost immediately offering to discuss the email's contents. He has now told members of Parliament that he did not read the entire email and chain, just the header. More here from the Guardian. 

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The News of the World and the Dowler Investigation

The Guardian offers a timeline and explanation reconstructing the News of the World's interaction with police during the Milly Dowler disappearance. Of particular interest: what the NOTW did and did not do with regard to hacking Milly's phone that may have interfered with the police's investigation into her disappearance and death. Levi Bellfield, already convicted in the murders of two other women, was convicted in Milly's murder earlier this year.

December 14, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hollywood Reporter Editor Hurt In L.A. Shooting

From the Hollywood Reporter: One of its editors, Chris Godley, was shot in the incident in which a gunman fired at passing motorists at the intersection of Sunset and Vine in Los Angeles yesterday. Police responded and ended by killing the suspect. More here from THR, including an interview with Mr. Godley, and video of the shooting. 

December 10, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 9, 2011

BBC Review Finds No Evidence Of Phone Hacking

After a review, the BBC has found no evidence that its journalists participated in phone hacking but Director General Mark Thompson will recommend some changes in procedures to make certain that such problems don't arise in future. More here from the Guardian.

December 9, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South African Defamation Law

Eric Descheemaeker, University of Edinburgh School of Law, has published ‘A Man of Bad Character Has Not so Much to Lose’: Truth as a Defence in the South African Law of Defamation as University of Edinburgh School of Law Working Paper No. 2011/39. Here is the abstract.

This paper examines, from a historical and comparative perspective, the role of truth in the South African law of defamation. In order to understand to what extent the law of South Africa might represent a mixture of civilian and common-law thinking, it first sets out the viewpoint of, on the one hand, Roman and Roman-Dutch law and, on the other hand, English law. Against this background, the dominant position of South African law appears avowedly civilian, a stand explained by the fact that the South African law of defamation really is a law of verbal insults, as in Rome, rather than a law of injuries to deserved reputation, as in England. However, an interesting dissident strand in favour of the sufficiency of truth can be seen to exist in the background, which is explored. This dissenting strand is certainly English in substance, but this does not entail that it has English roots.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

December 7, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ECJ Hands Down Important ISP Liability Ruling

The European Court of Justice has ruled that member state internet service providers are not required to police their users' activity proactively in order to make certain that those users do not violate copyright holders' rights. The decision overturns a Belgian court's decision holding that ISPs must install filters to ensure that users did not improperly share copyrighted files. Link to the judgment (not yet available in English) here. More here from the New York Times. Comments from the blogosphere here (IPKat), here (Informationoverlord) and here (e-comm, in German).

Thanks to Hans Peter Lehofer, on the Austrian Administrative Court, (who also blogs at e-comm) for the ECJ and blogpost links.


December 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Supreme Court Resistance To Cameras In Its Courtroom

Lisa McElroy, Drexel University School of Law, has published Cameras at the Supreme Court: A Rhetorical Analysis as Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law Research Paper No. 2011-W-02. Here is the abstract.

For many years, the Supreme Court has resisted cameras in its marble palace, the temple on the hill. In studying the reasons that the Justices give for refusing cameras at the Supreme Court, it becomes apparent that their resistance is more about maintaining mystique than about defensible concerns, such as security or legitimacy. In fact, cameras at the Supreme Court would help to alter Americans’ perceptions of the institution as a removed sort of aristocracy to a view of the Court as an integral part of democracy. Privacy and secrecy do not preserve public confidence in the Court, but may actually diminish it. The public’s interest in seeing its government at work outweighs any interests the Justices may have in preserving the Court’s mystique. 

This article conducts a rhetorical analysis of the Court’s story of majesty and disengagement from the public – one similar to that of the Oracle at Delphi – and suggests how cameras would transform that story to one in which the Justices are human and fallible but committed to the rule of law as a cornerstone of a constitutional democracy.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

December 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Commissioner Michael J. Copps Announces His Departure From the FCC

Commissioner Michael J. Copps has announced his resignation from the FCC. Read his statement as released by the agency.

Yesterday, I submitted to the President notice of my intention to resign my post as Commissioner effective January 1, 2012. Should the Senate confirm my successor prior to that date, or should the Senate adjourn sine die before January 1st, I would of course be leaving sooner. It has been a privilege and honor to serve for more than ten years as a Commissioner. The FCC is an agency of true excellence and its decisions are integral to our country’s future. Ubiquitous, opportunity-creating broadband and a resource-rich media capable of informing our civic dialogue are critically-important components of our future success as a people, and I intend to keep speaking about these challenges as a private citizen in the years ahead. It has been the highest honor to serve with my colleagues on the Commission. I thank them all for their dedication, collegiality and friendship. I also owe an enormous debt to the Commission staff. Their professionalism and dedication to the public interest stands as a model of government service.

December 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Funding Opportunities For Those In Law and Social Science From the NSF

Funding opportunities from the National Sciences Foundation. Target dates are January 24, 2012 and July 12, 2012.


The Law & Social Sciences Program considers proposals that address social scientific studies of law and law-like systems of rules.  The program is inherently interdisciplinary and multi-methodological.  Successful proposals describe research that advances scientific theory and understanding of the connections between law or legal processes and human behavior.  Social scientific studies of law often approach law as dynamic, made in multiple arenas, with the participation of multiple actors.  Fields of study include many disciplines, and often address problems including though not limited to:

  1. Crime, Violence and Punishment
  2. Economic Issues
  3. Governance
  4. Legal Decisionmaking
  5. Legal Mobilization and Conceptions of Justice
  6. Litigation and the Legal Profession

LSS provides the following modes of support:

  1. Standard Research Grants and Grants for Collaborative Research
  2. Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants
  3. Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowships
  4. Workshop and Conference Proposals

December 6, 2011 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)