Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Maine High Court Upholds Dismissal of Invasion of Privacy Counts Against Man Who Filmed Sex Workers, Customers
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has upheld a trial court's dismissal of invasion of privacy claims against a defendant who surreptitiously filmed encounters between prostitutes and their customers. In State v. Strong, the Court wrote in part,
When first enacted in 1976, section 511 defined a "private place" to mean "a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from surveillance but does not include a place to which the public or a substantial group has access."
P.L. 1975, ch. 499, § 1. The comment immediately following the text of the bill
as enacted states that the provision was intended "to prevent [the] seeing or
hearing of things that are justifiably expected to be kept private." ... Through amendments in 1999 and 2008, the Legislature revised the definition of "private place" by removing the language excluding "a place to which the public or a substantial group has access" and adding the language, "including, but not limited to, changing or dressing rooms, bathrooms and similar places." See P.L. 2007, ch. 688, §
2; P.L. 1999, ch. 116, § 1.
... Thus, the Legislature's overall purpose in criminalizing certain violations of privacy cannot be understood as an effort to broadly protect individuals' subjective expectations of privacy. The purpose is more focused, requiring that certain objective factors be present as well. The place involved must be "a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from surveillance." ... Further, a person's desire to keep private what transpires within that place must be a justifiable expectation, and, therefore, objectively reasonable. ...
Applying these standards to the unique facts delimited by the counts of the indictment as augmented by the State's offer of proof, the persons who entered and disrobed in the places described in the offer of proof—a residence, studio, and business office where a prostitute conducted her business—may have held a subjective expectation of privacy. Nevertheless, they cannot qualify as "persons entitled to privacy" in those places for purposes of the objective requirements of section 511(1)(B) because, as established by the State's offer of proof, their sole purpose for being present in those places was to engage a prostitute. Places of prostitution and people who knowingly frequent them to engage a prostitute are not sanctioned by society. Accordingly, it is objectively unreasonable for a
person who knowingly enters a place of prostitution for the purpose of engaging a prostitute to expect that society recognizes a right to be safe from surveillance while inside.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Friday, March 8, 2013
Yik Chan Chin, Hong Kong Baptist University, has published Truth, Fair Comments, Immunity and Public Opinion Supervision: Defenses of Freedom of Expression in Chinese Right to Reputation Lawsuits. Here is the abstract.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
This paper examines the latest developments in the Chinese law on the protection of reputation and the application of defences to reputation infringement claim, and considers the implications of the different defence approaches for freedom of expression in China. The research shows that the issue for Chinese law and the judiciary is not the lack of legal protections for freedom of expression and press freedom per se, but rather the necessity of establishing a clear, specific and coherent legal framework, which will operate to guide the courts and limit their discretion. Only when this occurs will the Chinese legal system be in a position to ensure that there is no preferential rulings by the courts when attempting to resolve any conflict between the right to freedom of expression and the individual’s right to respect for reputation.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The Obama Administration is taking up the cause of cellphone customers who want to keep their cellphones after their contracts have run out. Some of these customers would like to "unlock" their phones and switch to another mobile phone provider, but current law prohibits them from doing so. There used to be an exemption that would allow customers to switch to another provider once their contracts had ended, but the Copyright Office, which provides the exemption, did not renew it.
FCC Chair Julius Genachowski issued the following statement on the issue.
The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress recently reversed its longstanding position and stated it is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for consumers to unlock new mobile phones, even those outside of contract periods, without their wireless providers’ permission, and that consumers are subject to criminal penalties if they do.
From a communications policy perspective, this raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and for wireless consumers, it doesn't pass the common sense test. The FCC is examining this issue, looking into whether the agency, wireless providers, or others should take action to preserve consumers' ability to unlock their mobile phones. I also encourage Congress to take a close look and consider a legislative solution.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Sunday, March 3, 2013
The video tugged at our heartstrings. Well, why wouldn't it? A baby goat was trapped in the water, its little hoof presumably stuck someplace, and it was crying out for help. Where was its mother? Who would come to its rescue? Then, suddenly, out of nowhere (apparently), came Hero Pig, paddling away mightily, to free Baby Goat and lead it to safety! Hooray! As it turns out, the entire thing was staged by the folks at "Nathan for You," a new show airing on Comedy Central. Well, we should have suspected. The thing was too perfect. A pig on the scene that just happened to have goat rescue and survival training? A camera operator on hand? And yet no human around (except that camera person, apparently) to jump into the pond to save The Kid? Yup, smacks of Hollywood all over when you think about it...