For those of you who asked for our legal guide to reporting on Occupy Wall Street in a more portable format, we have good news! Our good friends at the First Amendment Coalition have graciously offered to host a mobile version of the guide on their free iOpenGov app. Furthermore, in recognition of the growth of Occupy protests in all regions of the United States, we have adapted the mobile version of our guide to discuss principles of law that are generally applicable across the country.
Posted October 28th, 2011 by DMLP Staff
Posted October 27th, 2011 by Marc J. Randazza
Posted October 25th, 2011 by DMLP Staff
The Citizen Media Law Project is extraordinarily pleased to announce that Andy Sellars, our Staff Attorney, was announced this past weekend to be the 2011 winner of the time-honored and prestigious Jan Jancin Award!
The Jan Jancin Award is granted each year to a single student nationwide who has excelled in the study of intellectual property law. The ABA-Intellectual Property Law Section, the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation grant the award in memory of the late Jan Jancin, who "served not only as President of AIPLA and Chair of the ABA-IPL Section, but served with distinction in other leadership roles in other intellectual property law associations, nationally and internationally."
Andy received his J.D. with high honors from the George Washington University Law School earlier this year, where (perhaps foreshadowing this weekend's success) he was awarded the Peter D. Rosenberg Award for Patent and Intellectual Property Law. Prior to law school, Andy had an excellent motive to develop an interest in intellectual property while working in the music industry, including for the festival production and promotion company Great Northeast Productions and as assistant tour manager and stage manager for the band moe. He received his undergraduate degree in music, summa cum laude, from Northeastern University in 2008. read more »
Posted October 24th, 2011 by Victoria S. Ekstrand
Is it possible to create a culture for licensing news?
This is the question at the heart of a new project begun by The Associated Press, announced last April by AP CEO Tom Curley. Called The News Licensing Group, the AP, with its membership, has created a separate company to explore how tagged content can not only be tracked but also monetized.
The News Licensing Group (NLG) is an outgrowth of the AP’s News Registry project, which was announced in 2009 as a way not only to tag content but locate content thieves. That announcement attracted criticism that the AP was gearing up for a major offensive against aggregators, but that never panned out. As a new group, NLG is positioned a bit more broadly – it’s about tagging and tracking, but it’s also about creating the distribution economics for aggregators to obtain the content they want.
In short, it appears NLG is looking to embrace the new content distribution economics.
The new venture is headed by former ABC News Chief David Westin. Its new COO is Srinandan Kasi, formerly vice president and general counsel for The Associated Press.
Last week, Kasi addressed a group of lawyers and journalists at the Ohio State Bar Association in Columbus at their annual media law conference to explain what NLG is working on and to review the history of the news industry’s business choices that have led to this moment. read more »
Posted October 24th, 2011 by Arthur Bright
I am excited to welcome Victoria Smith Ekstrand as a guest blogger!Victoria Smith Ekstrand is an associate professor at Bowling Green State University, where she teaches media law, public relations, and graduate courses in legal theory and pedagogy. She has an affiliate appointment with BGSU's Department of American Culture Studies. She studies the tensions between intellectual property and First Amendment law and is the author of News Piracy and the Hot News Doctrine: Origins in Law and Implications for the Digital Age (2005).
Before attending the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill for her doctorate, she was Director of Corporate Communications for The Associated Press in New York City, where she handled media relations and employee and marketing communications for the news service. She worked for the AP for nine years, and before that worked for the Arbitron Company and for radio stations in upstate New York, New York City, and Long Island.
Please join me in welcoming Victoria to the CMLP blogroll!
Posted October 20th, 2011 by Justin Silverman
Kansas City Star reporter Alan Bavley had a hunch. After years of investigating the health care industry, Bavley began to suspect that state medical boards did not adequately discipline doctors who committed malpractice. Physicians battling substance abuse, for example, were punished far more harshly.
"I wanted to find doctors who were malpractice ‘frequent fliers' and check to see if they had been disciplined, but I never had enough time to develop a viable strategy," Bavley said in a recent interview. "So the story languished on my bucket list." read more »
Posted October 19th, 2011 by DMLP Staff
This Saturday, October 22, the CMLP, together with Kennesaw State University's Center for Sustainable Journalism, will be producing and appearing at "Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed -- Again," an intensive one-day media law conference on the Kennesaw State campus north of Atlanta, Georgia.
Media Law in the Digital Age will bring together a wide array of acclaimed practitioners and scholars to discuss issues that are critical for anyone who publishes online content, works in digital media, or studies the way in which technology has influenced journalism and law. The day will open with a plenary discussion, The Aftermath of WikiLeaks, and individual sessions will include: read more »
Posted October 17th, 2011 by Eric P. Robinson
After a slow start, the latest experiment of video cameras in federal courtrooms, announced last October, appears to be finally starting to roll.
The first recording of a proceeding recorded under the experiment, a preliminary injunction hearing in Gauck v. Karamian, Civil No. 11-2346 (W.D. Tenn. filed May 4, 2011), was posted in July. Since then, four of the fourteen federal trial courts authorized to record civil proceedings under the experiment have posted recordings of six cases online.
Besides the Gauck case – in which a television news reporter sued a racy web site for misappropriation over its alleged use of her name, and eventually settled after the preliminary injunction was denied – the recorded proceedings include the following: read more »
Posted October 13th, 2011 by Arthur Bright
The United States is something of an outlier in the world when it comes to hate speech. Whereas laws prohibiting hate speech in the U.S. are simply unconstitutional (barring the various unprotected exceptions like obscenity, incitement, etc.), the majority of Western countries ban hate speech outright. Of course, those same countries also generally protect freedom of speech. The natural tension between hate speech bans and free speech rights can make for some interesting cases, one of which is now playing out in Canada.
Yesterday, Canada's Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of William Whatcott, an "anti-gay activist" in Saskatchewan, who in 2005 was found guilty of promoting hate by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal and ordered to pay the complainants $17,500. The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturned the ruling in 2010, and the Canadian Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Now, Whatcott does not appear to be a particularly pleasant fellow. As he described himself to the Montreal Gazette, he is a reformed drug addict who once traded sexual favors to his (male) drug dealer to feed his addiction. He notes to the Gazette that "It's a little inaccurate to say I was gay"; rather, he claims, "if you have no moral boundaries, you can try anything." read more »
Posted October 11th, 2011 by Justin Silverman
It used to be that mugshots were kept well out of the view. Despite being public records in many states, walls of bureaucracy and simple physical inaccessibility (due to the photos being locked in a police station somewhere) kept them largely out of the public eye.
But the Internet has changed that. Now, those same photos are uploaded to the web on tens, maybe even hundreds, of police and sherriff websites, giving rise to two new online businesses: the mugshot aggregation website and its opposite number, the mugshot removal website. But as David Kravets wrote in Wired, the interaction of these two types of website is more complicated than it seems. And their dealings call into question the reluctancy of states to centralize public records online in the first place. read more »
Posted October 7th, 2011 by DMLP Staff
UPDATE: In response to popular request, we have prepared a PDF version of sections of this post for easy printing.
We at the Citizen Media Law Project have taken great interest in the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" protest in New York. Much of what we know about the protest has come from independent reporters and citizen journalists covering the story from the ground. Knowing this, we are alarmed to hear reports of police arresting reporters during the protest. This, of course, could greatly discourage press coverage of this story.
In order to encourage citizen reporting from the ground in New York, and to dispel the uncertainties as to the rights of those covering the protest, we have created this special question-and-answer guide regarding covering the protest in New York as a special addendum to our CMLP Legal Guide. For more general information, you can also refer to our guide's section on New York law. read more »
'Act' of Valor: Ninth Circuit Decides First Amendment Does Not Protect People Who Sport Phony MedalsPosted October 3rd, 2011 by Timothy Cornell
David Perelman served in Vietnam for all of three months back in 1971, and returned to the U.S. without a scratch.
When he accidentally shot himself 20 years later though, he tried to turn the mishap into an act of valor and claimed the wound was actually a shrapnel injury from the war. The Air Force awarded him a Purple Heart and several other medals in 1994, and with it, Perelman got more than $180,000 in disability benefits, and sported his medal proudly around veterans conventions.
Once the government caught wind of the fraud, Perelman was charged under the Stolen Valor Act. He was found guilty in California and was sentenced to a year in prison. Although Perelman acknowledged that the law correctly applied to him, he appealed his conviction, arguing the Stolen Valor Act as a whole is too broad, and sweeps constitutionally-protected speech into its net.
Posted September 29th, 2011 by Arthur Bright
Last week the Online News Association's annual conference came to Boston. Naturally, many prominent news organizations showed up, tchotchkes in tow, to woo attendees – including Reuters, MSNBC, NPR, and CNN among many others.
But of all the exhibitors attending the conference, I'd like to drop a bit of praise on Al Jazeera, and not just because they were giving away really nice keychains. While poking around their site and materials at the conference, I discovered that Al Jazeera has been offering up video, photographs, and even full-fledged blog articles for public use under Creative Commons ("CC") licenses since January 2009.
This is a truly excellent thing. read more »
Posted September 26th, 2011 by Justin Silverman
In what is now their widely publicized exchange, U.S. Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner took attorney Richard O'Brien to task last week for arguing that the Illinois eavesdropping statute should be stricken as unconstitutional (audio here). The statute criminalizes the audio recording of non-consenting parties, even if they are public officials conducting official business in public view.
Oh Tenenbaum - First Circuit Rules That Consumers and Pirates Subject to High Sanctions Under Copyright ActPosted September 23rd, 2011 by Timothy Cornell
The draconian penalties for illegal downloaders under the U.S. Copyright Act were intended not just for commercial pirates, but for consumer-level infringers, the First Circuit ruled last week.
In the latest chapter of the saga of Joel Tenenbaum's battle with the world's largest record companies, First Circuit Chief Judge Sandra A. Lynch ruled on Friday that Congress intended that students such as Tenenbaum should face staggering penalties for illegal downloads. But she urged Congress to examine the "concerns" that the case raises.
The U.S. Copyright Act, at 17 U.S.C. 504(c) and on, provides awards ranging from $750 to $150,000 for each instance of willful copyright infringement. The entertainment industry has applied these provisions to go after peer-to-peer sharing groups and their users. In 2011, more than 50,000 peer-to-peer downloaders have been sued for illegally downloading in a field that has been described as the "toxic tort of the coming decades."
Beginning in 2002, the Recording Industry Association of America ("RIAA") and entertainment companies began suing individuals directly for copyright infringement, threatening them with enormous fines if they did not settle. After settling with thousands of downloaders out of court at $3,000 to $5,000 a pop, Sony BMG, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic Records, Arista Records, and UMG Recordings came to focus on Joel Tenenbaum. read more »
Posted September 23rd, 2011 by Arthur Bright
I am excited to welcome Timothy Cornell as a guest blogger.
Timothy is Of Counsel at Perry, Krumsiek & Jack LLP in Boston and takes on a range of internet-related issues, from intellectual property to litigation to startup advice. He has worked for David Boies and for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Timothy earned his bachelors degree from the University of Chicago. Before he went to law school, Timothy worked as a journalist at the Boston Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other papers. As a former receiver of prepublication review of his articles for libel issues, Timothy now returns the favor to current writers.
He graduated from Cornell Law School cum laude, and was editor-in-chief of the Cornell International Law Journal.
Please join me in welcoming Timothy to the CMLP blogroll!
Posted September 21st, 2011 by Joel Sage
It’s been several months since we last checked up on Righthaven. How is everybody’s favorite copyright troll doing?
Well, they might be going bankrupt:
Posted September 19th, 2011 by Justin Silverman
The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of organizations it believes engage in terrorist activity, and under federal law it is illegal to provide material support to them. The intent is to stifle any assistance given to these groups and to dry up the financing needed to further their individual causes. If the recent arrest of a 24-year-old in Virginia is any indication, however, "material support" could also include the exercise of speech protected by the First Amendment.
According to the FBI, Jubair Ahmad uploaded a video to YouTube last year that included images of armored trucks being hit by IEDs, footage of leaders from the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba ("LeT"), and the audio of a prayer which references "mujahideen" and "jihad." In a second version of the video, Ahmad showed pictures of dead men on the ground, one with a bullet hole in his neck. Other pictures showed Abu Ghraib and U.S. soldiers with an attack dog. Ahmad's YouTube account is now suspended and his video cannot be viewed. Based on the FBI's description of the video, however, it doesn't appear that he called for violence but instead intended "to promote the spread of terror." read more »
Posted September 15th, 2011 by Eric P. Robinson
Basketball Wives: Los Angeles lives! And one of the reasons is an athlete's Twitter habit.
Orlando Magic point guard Gilbert Arenas sued in California federal court (complaint) to stop the broadcast of the primiere episode of the VH1 reality show, which the channel touts as featuring "a group of dynamic women with relationships to some of the biggest basketball players in the game."
Two of the women featured on the show are Laura Govan, who broke up with Arenas after having four children with him, and her sister Gloria Govan, who is engaged to Los Angeles Laker Matt Barnes. Gloria Govan was previously featured on another show, Basketball Wives, based in Miami, of which the L.A. show is a spinoff.
Arenas's lawsuit to stop the new show claimed that it would improperly use his name and likeness to imply that he was involved in the program. In order to receive the preliminary injunction he was seeking, Arenas had to show (among other elements) that he was likely to win on his claims, and that he was likely to suffer irreparable harm if the show proceeeded. read more »
Posted September 15th, 2011 by Jeffrey P. Hermes
Next Thursday, September 22, 2011, the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, together with the Online News Association and the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will present "Law School for Digital Journalists," a Pre-Conference day for the ONA’s 2011 Conference in Boston.
This intensive day of practical legal training is open to the public without registration for the full ONA conference. We will cover what digital journalists need to know about how the law impacts their profession, both on the editorial and business sides, and including basics of content liability and intellectual property law, business formation and governance issues, and newsgathering law. The day will end with a high-level plenary discussion and reception. Classes will be taught by leading media lawyers and journalism educators.
Online registration was originally set to close on September 14, 2011, but has been extended through 11:59 p.m. Friday, September 16th – so come join us!
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Contributors to this blog include a diverse group of lawyers, law professors, law students, and others with an interest in new media. The views expressed are solely those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the DMLP or the institutions with which they are affiliated. To learn more about the DMLP, please click here.
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