Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fox News Apologizes For Live Coverage of Carjacker Suicide

Fox News has apologized for its broacast of a carjacking, live car chase and ultimately, on-air suicide of the suspect. National anchor Shepard Smith explained that the network uses a five-second delay to avoid the possibility that it might broadcast just such a thing as he narrated the events unfolding to his viewers, but as he realized what the carjacking was planning, he urged, "Get off it! Get off it!" to the control room. Mr. Smith apologized profusely, saying what had just happened "did not belong on TV," but the damage was done. Fox News also apologized, calling the broadcast the result of "severe human error." Other cable networks, including CNN, did not air live coverage.

Coverage from Huffington Post, Detroit Free Press.


September 30, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The FCC and Incentive Auctions

The FCC backs a plan to reclaim and re-auction parts of the broadcast spectrum that wireless broadcasters could then use to expand their reach. Some present broadcasters will not be interested in giving up their parts of their spectrum, says New York Times reporter Edward Wyatt, but some will, for a portion of the auction proceeds. More here from the Times. More here on the incentive auctions from the FCC's website.

September 29, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 28, 2012

"Innocence of Muslims" Producer Jailed

Judge Suzanne Segal has jailed Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who as it turns out is really named Mark Youseff. Mr. Youseff is the producer of "Innocence of Muslims," the 14-minute trailer which has apparently caused a great deal of the violence in the MIddle East, and over which Cindy Lou Garcia has filed a second lawsuit. Judge Segal indicated that her decision is based on Mr. Youseff's "lengthy pattern of deception," and said he was a flight risk.

September 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Former "Cops" Producer Sues Company

Fifty-seven-year-old Steven Kiger says the production company in charge of the long-running Fox show "Cops" fired him in 2010 because he was too old, and has filed suit under a number of state and federal statutes.  Mr. Kiger has not sued the Fox network.

September 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Media Reporting and Queensland Laws

Rhonda A. Breit and Richard L. Fitzgerald have published Changes in Media Reporting after RTI Laws in Queensland, presented at the CPRafrica 2012/CPRsouth 7 Conference, Port Louis, Mauritius, September 5-7, 2012. Here is the abstract.

This paper outlines findings of research into how journalists’ use and report issues related to freedom of information (FOI) and right to information (RTI) in Queensland, following the introduction of access to information reforms in 2009. 

A triangulated analysis was used incorporating quantitative and qualitative methods. At a quantitative level, the text analytics software Leximancer was used to identify key concepts, issues and trends in 786 relevant articles from national, metropolitan and regional newspapers. At a qualitative level, discourse analysis was used to identify key themes and patterns from the newspaper articles. Finally, semi-structured interviews with journalists who use and report on RTI/FOI were conducted in order to identify journalists’ attitudes towards RTI and to provide context for the analysis of newspaper reports.

Both qualitative and quantitative shifts in the media reporting of RTI and FOI were revealed across three time periods representing the periods before, during and after the reform implementation. The findings offer insights into the role of newspapers in promoting and/or framing the public sector information environment in Australia. This benchmark study will enable researchers within and beyond Asian contexts to monitor the role journalists’ play as information converters under push model RTI and their capacity to work collaboratively with government agencies in maximizing the usefulness of public sector information.

Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

September 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

And More About Tobacco Regulations and Speech

Danielle Weatherby, Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, and Terri Day, Barry University School of Law, have published The Butt Stops Here: The Tobacco Control Act’s Anti-Smoking Regulations Run Afoul of the First Amendment in volume 76 of the Albany Law Review (2012). Here is the abstract.

This paper discusses the First Amendment implications of the graphic images provision of the Family Prevention Tobacco Act of 2009, which requires tobacco companies to display these images plus a 1-800-QUIT-NOW number on 50% of the front and back of cigarette packages. This mandate goes way beyond the type of compelled disclosures which pass First Amendment scrutiny, when the statements are factual and are intended to dispel consumer confusion about a product. Under Supreme Court precedent, these factual disclosures are subject to limited judicial review, even lower than the intermediate scrutiny applied to commercial speech regulations. Because the graphic images are not factual statements meant to dispel consumer confusion, this lower standard of review should not apply. A recent Supreme Court case held that strict scrutiny applies to content-based regulations, even in the commercial context. Therefore, this article proposes that the question of whether these graphic images violate the First Amendment is subject to strict scrutiny judicial review. Under this standard, the government cannot establish the least restrictive means prong of strict scrutiny. There are other means available to the government to effectuate its goal of reducing teen smoking and encouraging adult abstinence. Government cannot “conscript” private companies into being a “mini-billboard” for the government’s anti-smoking message. Two Circuit Courts of Appeals have addressed the First Amendment issue presented by the graphic images provision. There is a split in the Circuits. Given the split in the Circuits and the potential “slippery slope” of government using speech regulations to control unhealthy habits, this case will probably reach the Supreme Court. If these graphic images pass First Amendment scrutiny, the next thing we might see are pictures of fat people or clogged arteries on Lay’s potato chip packages.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

September 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The First Amendment and Tobacco Package Warnings

Stephanie Bennett has published Paternalistic Manipulation through Pictorial Warnings: The First Amendment, Commercial Speech, and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in volume 81 of the Mississippi Law Journal (2012). Here is the abstract.

Beginning in 2012, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act will require pictorial warning labels on both regular and smokeless tobacco products. The warnings contain textual statements encouraging smoking cessation as well as graphic images depicting cadavers, crying children, and cancerous lesions. As presently required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the warnings both unconstitutionally compel and suppress commercial speech. The warnings violate the First Amendment under every existing Supreme Court standard for evaluating commercial speech regulations: the “reasonable relation” standard of Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel; the strict scrutiny standard of Wooley v. Maynard; and the intermediate scrutiny standard for commercial speech disclosure and suppression expressed in Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation v. Public Service Commission. Rather than tax tobacco products, ban tobacco products, use removable warnings already adopted by many countries including Canada, or implement educational programs to inform consumers about the dangers of using tobacco products, the FDA has instead resorted to paternalistic manipulation of consumers and infringement upon the First Amendment rights of tobacco manufacturers.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.


September 28, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Impact of the Georgia State University Copyright Ruling: One Lawyer's Take

At the Chronicle of Higher Education, a copyright lawyer weighs in on a recent district court opinion's application to his own work. Says attorney Zick Rubin in part about Judge Orinda Evans' ruling in the Georgia State case,

[T]hree of the four determining factors for fair use come out in the "fair" direction: First, Professor McClain is assigning my chapter for nonprofit educational purposes, not for commercial gain; second, although some have said that Liking and Loving reads like a novel, it is a factual and—ahem!—scientific work; third, the portion that is being copied is only one chapter out of 10 and makes up only a small proportion of the book's pages.

The only factor that tilts in the "unfair" direction is the fact that, thanks mainly to the work of the copyright center, there is a readily available licensing market for photocopying excerpts of my book. In 3-to-1 cases like this one, Judge Evans determined that Georgia State's copying was fair use and required no permission at all. Out of some 75 instances that the court considered, the judge found only five to be infringements—and each of them involved the use of two or more chapters of a book. Although the Georgia State case involved electronic course reserves, not photocopies, the same fair-use calculus applies.


As a result, Mr. Rubin says he doesn't mind that professors continue to assign a limited number of pages from his copyrighted works to their students, and he doesn't think they need to ask his permission, or pay royalties. According to him, the ruling is in line with the spirit of the Copyright Clause.

September 26, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Uganda Arrests, Jails British Man For Presenting Play With Gay Theme

Ugandan authorities arrested and jailed producer David Cecil for staging a play about gays without official permission, according to CNN.  They released him after four days, and he is scheduled to appear in court in October. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda; a few years ago one Uganda legislator introduced a bill to make homosexuality punishable by death, but that move was finally abandoned this year.

September 24, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Speech on the Net

The New York Times' Somini Sengupta on how those companies that control access to the Internet make decisions about speech.

September 23, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Aurora, Colorado Theater Shooting Victims File Lawsuit Against Cinemark

Some of the individuals wounded in the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings earlier this summer are suing Cinemark, the corporate owner of the movie theater, alleging that the company should have made certain the exit doors of the property had alarms, that the theater should have had additional security on site for the showing of "The Dark Knight Rises," and that employees failed to assist patrons adequately once the emergency ended. James Holmes, who was arrested in the shootings, is assumed to have exited and re-entered the theater through exit doors without being detected. The two lawsuits, one filed by Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod, and another filed by Joshua Nowlan, were both filed in federal district court. More here from The Hollywood Reporter, here from the Los Angeles Times.

September 23, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 21, 2012

For Your Consideration

The Hollywood Reporter lists its choices for the top 10 law school programs in entertainment law here. It's the mag's first-ever compilation and includes picks such as UCLA and USC at numbers 1 and 2, Southwestern at number 4, and Vandy at number 9 among the honorees. Congratulations to all the listees for their good work and success.

September 21, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Webcasting and Copyright Law

Eldar Haber, Tel Aviv University, Buchmann Faculty of Law, has published Copyrights in the Stream: The Battle on Webcasting, at 28 Santa Clara Computer & High Tech. L.J. 769 (2012). Here is the abstract.

The Internet threatens many right holders who consistently battle against technologies that enable people to use their copyrighted materials without their consent. While copyright holders have succeeded in some cases, their main battle against peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing has yet to be resolved. Another technology that threatens right holders’ business models, especially in the film industry, is the distribution of their content freely via webcasting. Although right holders have paid little attention to webcasting as they continue their campaign against P2P file-sharing, it poses similar threats and presents the likely possibility of a future copyright battle. This article examines copyright and webcasting. I analyze webcasting in comparison to past and current wars on copyright, trying to unveil major differences between the two. I argue that the current U.S. copyright régime treats webcasting inadequately and should be reexamined, especially vis-à-vis end-user’s actions since courts have yet to review cache copies created during Internet transmissions. I opine that future legal solutions proposed to handle webcasting, much like past attempts in similar matters, will be futile since technology will continue to evolve at a faster rate than legislation. Finally, I argue that the best solution to the current, as well as future, legal battles to protect copyrights should be the creation of a new business model similar to that of a levy system.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

September 20, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

French Magazine Stirs the Pot With Cartoons

The French magazine Charlie Hebdo has published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as anger continues in a number of countries in the Mid-East as elsewhere over the "Innocence of Muslims" trailer. The magazine's editor stated that those who wanted to be offended by the cartoons would be offended. French police are currently protecting the magazine's offices from violence. More here from the Hollywood Reporter.

September 20, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

BSkyB Continues as Ofcom Licensee

From the Hollywood Reporter: NewsCorp will continue to hold a broadcast license, Ofcom has ruled. NewsCorp has issued a statement indicating it is "pleased" by the decision. However, the agency found James Murdoch's behavior as a company director "difficult to comprehend and ill-judged. In respect of the matters set out above, in our view, James Murdoch’s conduct in relation to events at NGN repeatedly fell short of the exercise of responsibility to be expected of him as CEO and chairman."

More reporting from The Guardian.


September 20, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Duke and Duchess Win Injunction Over Photographs In French Court

A French court has granted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge that sought-after injunction against the French magazine Closer; the magazine published photographs of the Duchess without her bathing suit-top while she was enjoying the sun at a relative's home in southern France. The injunction applies only to France but does order the mag to hand over the original pix and forbids it to publish the photos that have already appeared. More here from the BBC.

However, other European magazines have already reprinted the pictures, including Chi, the Italian publication owned by former PM Silvio Berlusconi.

September 18, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Google To White House: No Take-Down For Controversial Video

From the New York Times: Google has announced that, consistent with its current policy, it will allow a controversial video available on Google-owned YouTube even though that video is apparently the cause of violent protests across the Mid-East. The White House has asked the company to remove the video from YouTube. Spokespersons for Google say the position is consistent with Google's 2007 policy on the presence of controversial content on their websites. Google has blocked access to the video in some countries to accommodate national laws.

September 15, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mid East Violence Continues, Increases, In Reaction to Film Trailer

Anger and violence are spreading rapidly throughout the Mideast at least partly in reaction to a film trailer produced by a shadowy figure who goes by the name "Sam Basile," even as various governments act to protect U.S. Embassies in those countries after the deaths of four U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. While Google has not removed the video from YouTube, it has tried to help defuse the situation by blocking access to the trailer in Libya and Egypt. Meanwhile, embassies of other Western nations have come under attack as well.

September 14, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Update: Royals Announce Lawsuit Against Magazine Over Photos

From the BBC: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are beginning legal action for invasion of privacy against the French edition of Closer magazine, because of its publication of photographs picturing the Duchess topless during a recent short holiday at the home of the Duke's cousin. Word comes from Clarence House, home of the Duke's father, the Prince of Wales. Closer denies that publication of the photos constitutes an invasion of privacy, insisting that the couple was "visible from the street."

September 14, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

French Mag Publishes "Topless" Photos; Says They're of Duchess of Cambridge; Royal Couple Alleges Invasion of Privacy

The French edition of Closer magazine has published blurry photos of what the mag claims are pix of the Duchess of Cambridge, about to go topless, which a photographer took with an extreme telephoto lens while she was on holiday with her husband at the home of a cousin in France. Spokespersons for Royal Family have issued a statement indicating its outrage over the publication of the pix. Reports suggest that the couple may be looking into legal action against Closer, alleging it has invaded their privacy. Closer has responded that the photos are not shocking, but show a normal and  beautiful young couple in love, on vacation. More here from BBC News.

September 14, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)