Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Journalist Is Found Out

The New York Times reports on yet another reporting scandal, this time at the Cape Cod Times. The editors have apologized to their readers concerning "longtime reporter Karen Jeffrey's" made-up human interest stories, some dating back to the late 1990s. Ms. Jeffrey is the latest in a line of reporters who have concocted facts or entire stories, sometimes for years, but have ultimately been caught, either by their editors or by journalists at other papers.

December 31, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

New Report Says BBC Not Up To Dealing With Savile Investigation

From the Hollywood Reporter: an independent report says the BBC is "completely incapable" of handling the Jimmy Savile situation. The late host was accused of sexually abusing youngsters with whom he came into contact; the BBC is accused of quashing an investigation into his activities. The affair has already caused fallout, including the new Director General of the BBC, George Entwhistle, who resigned after less than two months on the job. 

December 31, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

FTC Reports Privacy Practices Still a Problem With Apps Marketed To Children

Here's a link to the FTC report discusses problems with apps marketed to children that are not completely transparent with regard to privacy practices. More discussion here in an article from PC World.

December 22, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Italian Appellate Court Overturns Convictions Of Google Execs

An Italian appeals court has overturned the 2010 criminal convictions of three Google executives,  Peter Fleischer, David Drummond, and George Reyes, for failing to remove promptly an online video in which a boy was shown being bullied. The video had been loaded on a Google-owned website. Google had attempted to defend on the grounds that it had removed the video as soon as it learned of its content. More here from the New York Times.

December 22, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 17, 2012

University of Delaware Tells Students To Stop Selling T-Shirts With Vulgar Language

From the Chronicle of Higher Education: The University of Delaware has served a cease-and-desist letter on two of its students who want to sell t-shirts emblazoned with colorful language. It may not the colorful language that precipitated the letter. Well, maybe that's part of the problem. It also seems to be the students' use of the university's trademark "U" and "D" incorporated into the phrase.  See for yourself in the photo at the Chronicle's article here; more coverage from Delaware Online here.

December 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Media Competition and News Aggregation

Joan Calzada and Guillem Ordóñez, University of Barcelona, have published Competition in the News Industry: Fighting Aggregators with Versions and Links as NET Institute Working Paper No. 12-22. Here is the abstract.


We analyze the linking and versioning strategies of a media …firm when facing competition from blogs, search engines and news aggregators. First, we show that when the publisher competes against a blog it is less likely to release a fighting version if this generates signi…ficant spillovers for its rival. Second, we analyze situations where a publisher will accept to offer part of its contents to a news aggregator in exchange for financial compensation. We explain that an agreement is possible when the aggregator is not overly dependent on the …firms contents. Finally, we show that when the …firm competes against a search engine, its linking and versioning strategies depend on the amount of trace it receives from its competitor. The …firm can use the search engine as its own low quality version and as a mechanism to expand its market since it gives access to many contents.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.


December 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The Money In Meows

Apparently the dollars are in repping felines these days. Check out this piece from Media Decoder on the trials of Ben Waterman, who is looking for cat talent to appear in the new feature "Heathcliff." It's tough to reach agents for the four-footed ones, never mind locking up the stars themselves. So many contracts, so few lives. 

December 17, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Former Police Officer Sentenced To Prison In Politkovskaya Murder

A former police officer has been found guilty of complicity in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow in 2006. A court found Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov guilty of using his position as a lieutenant colonel in the Moscow police department to use police officers to follow Ms. Politkovskaya. He then gave that information to hit men who killed her. He was sentenced to eleven years in prison. Ms. Politkovskaya's family, while pleased that someone has finally been held accountable for her death, thinks the sentence is too light, and plans to appeal. Five other defendants face charges in her murder. Two of them were already tried several years ago in the case, and now face re-trial. More here from the L. A. Times.

December 16, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Premiere of New Tom Cruise Film Postponed After Shootings At Connecticut School

Paramount Pictures has delayed the premiere of Tom Cruise's new film "Jack Reacher" to show respect for the victims, families, and survivors of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

More here from The Hollywood Reporter.

December 15, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Congress Passes Law To Quiet TV Commercials

In early December, Congress got bi-partisan to pass the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. It went into effect December 13th. While its name isn't graceful, it's descriptive enough--it's aimed at those screechy commercials that lift you out of your seat every so often. Congress has tried before to solve the problem of abnoxiously loud ads, but without success, even though viewers have complained incessantly for years. Now--success. Report violators to the FCC here.

Can you hear them (less) now?

December 14, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Deutsche Bank Damages Up To Two Billion In KirchMedia Case

A German appellate court has ruled that the comments of Deutsche Bank's CEO led, in part, to the bankruptcy of KirchMedia, the former media conglomerate, and thus, the Bank must pay damages of up to 2 billion dollars to the estate of the company's founder, who died last year. DB was the company's main creditor at the time of CEO Ralf Breuer's 2002 comments to Bloomberg TV, during which he "questioned Kirch's creditworthiness." The company filed for bankruptcy two months after Breuer's comments.

More here from the Hollywood Reporter.

December 14, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A&E Faces Lawsuits Over Reality Shows

From the Hollywood Reporter: Talent agency Venture IAB is suing A&E as well as several individuals associated with the reality show Pawn Stars, alleging that they interfered with its contract with the show's stars, inducing them to cancel its agreement with them and sign up with another talent agency. The suit comes a day after Storage Wars star David Hester filed suit against A&E claiming that he was dropped from the show after complaining that the show's producers "salted" storage lockers to make them more interesting for bidders. In his complaint, he alleges that the producers terminated his contract in retaliation for his comments about the way the show is constructed. More here from THR.

December 12, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

IP and the Common Law

Jennifer E. Rothman, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, has published Copyright, Custom and Lessons from the Common Law in Intellectual Property and the Common Law (Shyamkrishna Balganesh, ed., Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.

In this essay prepared for the University of Pennsylvania’s conference on Intellectual Property and the Common Law, I build upon my work on custom and intellectual property. I focus here on one important facet of the subject — how longstanding common law principles should inform our understanding of custom. The common law provides a number of lessons on how to appropriately limit the consideration of custom in intellectual property law and elsewhere. The essay begins by considering the traditional role of custom in the common law. Part II then examines several of the ways that courts have incorporated custom into copyright law, particularly in the context of determining fair use. Part III explores recent efforts to use custom to ameliorate the uncertainty of fair use and to limit copyright’s ever-expanding boundaries. Parts IV through VI criticize the unreflected reliance on custom and consider appropriate limits on custom’s role, taking into consideration the traditional common law limits on the use of custom. Finally, I suggest a number of useful insights (other than the provision of legal rules) that custom and the common law provide for copyright law. These insights include the need for the copyright system to have public support to function, the importance of consensus for copyright rulemaking, and the need for a coherent normative framework. The history of the use of custom in the context of real property also reveals that uses of copyrighted works that cannot be substituted for or that serve communal recreational purposes should be given a privileged status.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

December 11, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Federal-State Joint Conference On Advanced Services Announces Joint Conference On Broadband Adoption and Usage

From the FCC:


Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services Announces Feb. 7 Broadband Summit: Broadband Adoption and Usage

What Have We Learned?

The Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services will hold a summit on February 7, 2013 to identify and discuss best practices learned from broadband adoption programs and academic studies/surveys, and how implementation of these best practices can close the broadband adoption gap among Americans – particularly low-income households, racial and ethnic minorities, seniors, rural residents, residents of Tribal lands and people with disabilities.

Additional details regarding the agenda will be available prior to the event at

Date: February 7, 2013 Time: 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Location: FCC Commission Room 445 12 th St. SW Washington, D.C. 20554


Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request. Include a description of the accommodation you will need and tell us how to contact you if we need more information.

Make your request as early as possible. Last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill.

Send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

More information about the Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services is available at


December 11, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Judge Issues Temporary Injunction In "Age of Hobbits" Case

A federal judge has granted a TRO in the case of a movie scheduled to be released this week whose title, "Age of the Hobbits," strongly resembles a new Peter Jackson film, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," also to be released soon. Mr. Jackson and his studio, Warner Brothers, alleged that the "Age of the Hobbits" a Global Asylum production, infringed "The Hobbit"'s trademarks. The judge agreed, ruling that consumers were likely to be confused. More here from the Hollywood Reporter, here from the Wall Street Journal.

December 10, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tort Law and Images

Samantha Barbas, State University of New York at Buffalo Law School, is publishing The Laws of Image in the New England Law Review. Here is the abstract.


We live in an image society. Since the turn of the 20th century if not earlier, Americans have been awash in a sea of images throughout the visual landscape. We have become highly image-conscious, attuned to first impressions and surface appearances, and deeply concerned with our own personal images – our looks, reputations, and the impressions we make on others. 

The advent of this image-consciousness has been a familiar subject of commentary by social and cultural historians, yet its legal implications have not been explored. This article argues that one significant legal consequence of the image society was the evolution of an area of law that I describe as the tort law of personal image. By the 1950s, a body of tort law – principally the privacy, publicity, and emotional distress torts, and a modernized defamation tort – had developed to protect a right to control one’s image and to be compensated for emotional and dignitary harms caused by interference with one’s public image. This law of image produced the phenomenon of the personal image lawsuit, in which individuals sued to vindicate or redress their images. The rise of personal image litigation over the course of the 20th century was driven by Americans’ increasing sense of protectiveness and possessiveness towards their public images and reputations. 

This article offers an overview of the development of the image torts and personal image litigation in the United States. It offers a novel, alternative account of the history of tort law by linking it to developments in American culture. It explains how the law became a stage for, and participant in, the modern preoccupation with personal image, and how legal models of personhood and identity in turn transformed understandings of the self. Through legal claims for libel, invasions of privacy, and other assaults to the image, the law was brought, both practically and imaginatively, into popular fantasies and struggles over personal identity and self-presentation.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

December 10, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Models of Public Service Media

Ellen P. Goodman, Rutgers University School of Law, Camden, has published Public Service Media Narratives in the Routledge Handbook of Media Law (Monroe E. Price & Stephaan Verhulst, eds., 2012). Here is the abstract.

The emergence of public service media in the mid-twentieth century on both sides of the Atlantic was a response to particular technological realities and market structures. Public media systems manifested theories about the function of media in a democracy, the sources of cultural authority and innovation, the limitations of the market, and the values of social cohesion and inclusion.

In the early twenty-first century, the underlying theories and justifications for public service media are now in flux. Those who defend continued public funding of legacy and new non-commercial media services, and work to reform their operations, have struggled to untangle the contingencies of twentieth-century organizational structures from the enduring values that spawned their creation. In other words, policymakers and commentators have recognized that legacy public broadcasting systems must be updated for a post-broadcasting world, or wither away. But the values and purposes of a new, multi-platform, multi-actor public media system are not yet clearly articulated.

This chapter argues that the American system of public service media -- long the poor cousin of the world's better-funded systems -- in fact may model new forms of service for the digital age. This evolving model includes diverse funding sources, distributed ownership and citizen engagement. And it is grounded in narratives of community service, innovation and democratic participation, as well as in those of market failure and canonical excellence. The chapter traces these distinct and sometimes conflicting narratives through the history of American public service media, with comparisons to the UK and European contexts. It concludes that a strong version of the innovation narrative is best suited to shape the future functions and structures for public service media in 21st century, media-rich democracies.

Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

December 10, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hospital Nurse Who Took DJs' Prank Call About Duchess Has Died

Apparently a tragic consequence from that prank call to King Edward VII Hospital earlier this week in which two Australian DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles in order to get information about the Duchess of Cambridge. The nurse on duty who took the call from the two has died. The hospital identified the nurse as Jacintha Saldanha, saying she was "an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues."  Early reports are treating the cause of death as unidentified but are suggesting suicide. The two DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have apologized for the call.

December 7, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DC Circuit Upholds FCC Data Roaming Rule

The U.S. District Court for the DC Circuit has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission has statutory authority to adopt a rule that requires cellphone service providers to offer roaming services to competitors and to treat cellphone providers as common carriers. The case is FCC v. Bright House Networks. More discussion here from the New York Times.

December 5, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Judge: Fifty Year Term For NJ Post-Mortem Right Of Publicity, So Hebrew University Of Jerusalem Claim Over Einstein image Is Barred

A U. S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California has ruled that New Jersey's post mortem rights of publicity extend for 50 years after the death of the celebrity. Thus, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which claims to control the late Albert Einstein's rights of publicity, cannot prevail in a dispute over an ad that General Motors ran in a 2010 issue of People Magazine which feature the late scientist, accompanied by the caption "Ideas are sexy, too." In his determination, Judge A. Howard Matz examined the laws of other states which have extend such rights to heirs, noting that public policy requires the balancing of property and First Amendment rights. The latest year the University could have filed its suit would have been 2005 (Dr. Einstein died in 1955). 

Check out the disputed image here.

December 4, 2012 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)