Matthew C. Sanchez's blog

Drew (Tentatively) Acquitted in MySpace Suicide Case

A federal judge yesterday tentatively acquitted Lori Drew, the Missouri woman convicted for her involvement in a MySpace “cyberbullying” hoax that allegedly resulted in a young girl’s suicide.  If it sticks, the acquittal will help reverse the momentous change in online liability that Drew’s earlier guilty verdict threatened to set in motion.

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Blogger Wins $225,000 Settlement Over Public Records Delay

In a nice cautionary tale for government agents who refuse to take public records requests seriously, Washington state political blogger Stefan Sharkansky won a $225,000 settlement last week from a county government that took two years to comply with his request for information.  The settlement ended Sharkansky's lawsuit against King County over officials' improper delay in producing documents related to the state's 2004 gubernatorial election.

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Restaurant Girl Parody Leads to Twitter Trademark Tussle

Celebrities and popular artists, like other public figures, face a tough road if they want to sue someone for making fun of them.  Many know that fair use places a high legal burden on authors and artists who bring copyright claims against those who parody them or their work.  Lesser known -- but equally important -- is that parodies receive strong protection against trademark<

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Whatever Happened to Playing Fair?

A few recent intellectual property disputes have highlighted the fact that the decision to pursue legal action is both a legal and a moral choice.  While concepts such as "fair use" help to ensure protection of both intellectual property rights while promoting creative expression, they can't replace a simple concept we all learned in kindergarten:  "treat others the way you’d like them to treat you."

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More Online Journalists Jailed Than Any Other Media Group

Online speakers are attracting more attention than ever from governments across the world, for good or for ill. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), more online journalists are currently imprisoned for their speech than journalists in print, broadcast, or other media.  The CPJ identified 125 journalists currently serving prison sentences, 45 percent of whom are bloggers, Web-based reporters, or online editors.

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Bronx D.A. Withdraws Subpoena Seeking Identity of Anonymous Room Eight Posters

Earlier this month, the District Attorney for Bronx County, New York, withdrew a subpoena seeking the identities of anonymous posters on political blog Room Eight. The posters had criticized local politicians and Bronx Republican Party officials in blog posts and comments. District Attorney Robert T.

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New York Legislature Passes Open Records and Open Meetings Reforms

The New York Legislature recently passed several open records and open meetings reforms, adding New York to the long list of states that have taken steps to revamp their open government laws this year.

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Hawaii Legislature Passes Shield Bill

The Hawaii legislature passed a reporters' shield bill Tuesday that will protect both traditional and non-traditional journalists from compelled disclosure of their confidential sources and information and materials obtained or prepared during the newsgathering process. In one sense, this shield bill is a positive step forward, as it expressly contemplates that online publishers carrying out journalistic functions will take advantage of its protections.

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YouTube Removes “Shred” Parody Videos; WIRED Puts Them Back Up

Earlier this month, some of the most creative and entertaining parody videos on the Web were pulled from YouTube over dubious copyright claims. The disputed works, known as the “shred” videos, are a series of parodies in which Finnish media artist Santeri Ojala overdubs performances of legendary guitarists such as Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton. Ojala replaces the audio tracks of the guitarists' performances with his own (intentionally) bad guitar playing.

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Ethics and Copyright Liability for Reprinting Content

Reprinting content from other information sources is one of the trickiest areas of communications law -- especially for bloggers and other publishers on the Internet, where the legal framework has yet to be established. InfoMean blog has a useful set of pointers to help publishers avoid infringement lawsuits when reprinting information.

(Matt C. Sanchez is a second-year law student at Harvard Law School and the CMLP's Legal Threats Editor.)

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