Tabitha Messick's blog

A UNC Student’s Summer Experience in Media Law

Today we are pleased to republish a piece from Tabitha Messick about her experiences as a 2012 Digital Media Law Project Summer Intern; this post was originally published by the DMLP's founder, David Ardia, on his blog at the UNC Center for Media Law & Policy. Thanks to both David and Tabitha for allowing us to run this post!

If you are interested in becoming a summer intern for the DMLP, please visit the Berkman Center's Summer Internship Program website for more information!

My 2L summer at the Digital Media Law Project  (DMLP) at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society (based at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA) was simply amazing. I’ve known about the Berkman Center for years, and have frequently used the resources at DMLP (formerly the Citizen Media Law Project). I would have never imagined that I would have the opportunity to work there.

I came to law school with an interest in media law, Internet policy and privacy issues. I am a 2007 graduate of UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  I chose to enroll at UNC School of Law because of its media law curriculum and because of the Center for Media Law & Policy.   read more »


Olympic Citius Altius Fortius Pan-American: The U.S. Olympic Committee's Exclusive Rights

The U.S. Olympic Committee ("USOC") has a reputation for aggressively policing their exclusive rights to certain words, phrases, and symbols. And they have a special act of Congress to back them up.

The Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act (hereafter "the Act") grants the USOC the exclusive right to use the word "Olympic," and other Olympic related terms and symbols, and therefore the right to prohibit certain commercial or promotional uses by others. The Act allows the USOC to license use of the marks to contributors and suppliers of goods or services who wish to advertise that "the contributions, goods, or services were donated or supplied to, or approved, selected or used by [the USOC]."

(a) Exclusive Right of Corporation. ‒ Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, the corporation has the exclusive right to use ‒

(1) the name "United States Olympic Committee";

(2) the symbol of the International Olympic Committee, consisting of 5 interlocking rings, the symbol of the International Paralympic Committee, consisting of 3 TaiGeuks, or the symbol of the Pan-American Sports Organization, consisting of a torch surrounded by concentric rings;

(3) the emblem of the corporation, consisting of an escutcheon having a blue chief and vertically extending red and white bars on the base with 5 interlocking rings displayed on the chief; and

(4) the words "Olympic", "Olympiad", "Citius Altius Fortius", "Paralympic", "Paralympiad", "Pan-American", "America Espirito Sport Fraternite", or any combination of those words.   read more »

Service of Process, 2.0

The judicial system in the United States has kept up with technological change in many ways. We have electronic filing, websites for federal courts, and Internet streaming court coverage. But there is one way that courts have not been as quick to adapt electronically – service of process.

Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied a request to allow service of process via social networking site (in this case, Facebook). The case, Fortunato v. Chase Bank U.S.A., involved Chase Bank's attempts to locate and serve process on a third-party defendant who fraudulently charged up multiple credit cards and gave a false physical address. The judge called the request "unorthodox," and found that Chase Bank had not given the court "a degree of certainty" about the defendant's alleged Facebook profile and the email address attached to that profile that would ensure that the defendant would receive and read the notice. However, the judge did allow for alternative service by general publication in local newspapers.  

So why are judges reluctant to allow electronic service of process?    read more »

Hey! You Defamed Me (By Not Saying Anything About Me)!

Another day. Another "I created Facebook first" case.  

Last month, a federal magistrate judge in Massachusetts dismissed the lawsuit of Aaron Greenspan, a former classmate of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, against Random House Publishing and Columbia Pictures (and others), the respective distributors of the 2009 book about Facebook's creation, "The Accidental Billionaires," and the film adaption, "The Social Network," in 2010.

Amid various copyright claims (which were also dismissed) was an interesting, "Is this really a legal thing?" claim of "defamation by omission." Greenspan basically argues that he was defamed when he was left out of the movie based on the book about Facebook because he claims that he was "indirectly" involved in the founding of the company. In his complaint, Greenspan alleges he was referred to as "Grossman" in the book, and completely left out of the film. And by being left out, he alleges that he was excluded from any recognition of his contributions, and that all these (complicated and diluted) matters have affected his "career prospects." Sounds like a slam-dunk for the "subject ridicule, shunning and abuse" element for a defamation claim, right?

Not hardly.   read more »

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