Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Coors on the Limits of Free Speech in Online Customer Reviews in the Digital Era

Corinna Coors, University of West London, Ealing Law School, has published Opinion or Defamation? Limits of Free Speech in Online Customer Reviews in the Digital Era, at 20 Communications Law: The Journal of Computer, Media, and Televcommunications Law 72 (2015). Here is the abstract.


This article explores defamation on the internet in blogs, discussion threads and websites containing customer reviews. It considers the serious harm threshold test introduced by the Defamation Act 2013, evaluating the degree of guidance given in Cooke v. MGN Ltd on what evidence would be needed to prove serious harm. Discusses the new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion, malice on the part of the person making the statement, and defences available to website operators.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.



July 14, 2016 | Permalink

Monday, July 11, 2016

Indian Court: If You Do Not Like a Book, Throw It Away

An Indian high court has dissolved a ban on an important novel, declaring that the book by Perumal Murugan, translated into English as One Part Woman, is protected under the Indian Constitution's right to freedom of expression. The work had been withdrawn for obscenity, after nationalist groups protested its content; Mr. Murugan later announced he was abandoning his writing career and withdrawing all his other publications. Said Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, “All writings, unpalatable for one section of the society, cannot be labeled as obscene, vulgar, depraving, prurient and immoral.”  He noted that the Constitution protects the individual's right to speak and write's one thoughts, and declared:

Whether the society is ready to read a particular book and absorb what it says without being offended, is a debate which has been raging for years together. Times have changed. What was not acceptable earlier became acceptable later. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is a classical example of it. The choice to read is always with the reader. If you do not like a book, throw it away.

Here is a link to the ruling.  More here and here from The Hindu opinion pages;  here from the New York Times opinion pages; discussion here from the BBC concerning the content of the work.




July 11, 2016 | Permalink

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Users Stream Material Live On Facebook, Raising Issues About Balancing Newsworthiness and Content

The rise of live streaming of current events, such as this week's ambush of Dallas police officers and the shooting of Philando Castile, raises issues for Facebook concerning the use of its new service. A July 8, 2016 article in the New York Times examines the problem that faces the company: balancing the graphic nature of such material against its newsworthiness.

July 9, 2016 | Permalink

Friday, July 8, 2016

Does the First Amendment Protect Citizen Journalists Who Film Police?

Does the First Amendment protect a citizen's right to film police officers while they perform their duties? The Supreme Court hasn't ruled, but some lower courts have. See Gericke v. Weare (1st Circuit) and Glik v. Cunliffe (1st Circuit), Smith v. City of Cumming (11th Circuit), ACLU v. Alvarez (7th Circuit), generally upholding the right of the public to film officers who are in public, discharging their duties, and when the activities are of public interest and the individual filming is not interfering with the officer's activities.

In the wake of police shootings in Baton Rouge, LA, and Falcon Heights, MN, and shootings of officers in Dallas, TX, here's a short discussion of the issue from the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). See also this article in the New York Times, reporting that Ruben An has filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department, claiming that the NYPD violated his rights by interfering with him while he filmed officers interacting with another person in 2014. Police arrested Mr. An; some charges were later dropped, and he was acquitted on the remaining counts.

July 8, 2016 | Permalink