Legal Threats Blog

Legal Threats Database Preview: Internet Solutions v. Marshall

Tomorrow we officially launch our Legal Threats Database, a catalog of the growing number of lawsuits, cease-and-desist letters, and other legal challenges faced by those engaging in online speech. As many of our readers are no doubt aware, the individual threat entries have been available for some time, but starting tomorrow users will be able to view the entire database and search the entries using a number of fields, including location, legal claim, publication medium, and content type.

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Musharraf Uses Press Licensing Laws to Clampdown on News Media in Pakistan

Reports are emerging from Pakistan that President Pervez Musharraf has shutdown independent news media within Pakistan and limited access to the Internet. Musharraf appears to be using, at least in part, Pakistan's press licensing laws to effectuate this clampdown.

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Jury Awards $10.9 Million Against "God Hates Fags" Church

On Wednesday, a federal jury in Maryland handed down a $10.9 million verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian church in Kansas that publishes a website at www.godhatesfags.com, on which it disseminates its rabidly anti-homosexual views. Among other things, the church advocates the view that God kills U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality and for the presence of gays in the U.S. military.

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Citizen Media Law Podcast #2: Legal Threats Database; Orthomom Defamation Action; Iranian Blogger Sued in Canada

This week, David Ardia previews our legal threats database, Colin Rhinesmith talks about a recent decision on First Amendment protections for anonymous bloggers, and Sam Bayard spotlights a defamation suit involving an Iranian blogger in Canada.

Download the MP3 (time: 9:30)

Music used in this podcast was sampled and remixed from a track titled "Jazz House" by the Wicked Allstars, available on Magnatune.

To subscribe to the Citizen Media Law Podcast, visit our Subscriptions page or go directly to the podcast feed.

 

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Summary Judgment Granted in BidZirk v. Smith

I blogged about Orthomom's victory on Friday. Here's another big win for a blogger recently. Last Monday, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina granted summary judgment to Philip Smith in the lawsuit brought against him by BidZirk, LLC, Daniel Schmidt, and Jill Patterson.

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New York Court Dismisses Orthomom Defamation Action

On Tuesday, October 23, Justice Marcy Friedman of the New York Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit seeking discovery from Google (dba Blogger) regarding the identities of the anonymous operator of the blog "Orthomom" and an anonymous commenter to the blog. The court's opinion is potentially important because it addresses the difficult question of what standard a court should apply when deciding whether to unmask an anonymous defendant in a defamation action.

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Update on Phoenix New Times Case

As mentioned in our previous post on the Phoenix New Times arrests, two Phoenix-area news organizations filed a motion on October 19 requesting the Arizona Superior Court to publicly release documents related to the New Times grand jury investigation, presumably including the subpoena that caused all the ruckus.

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Citizen Media Law Podcast #1: Federal Shield Bill; Co-Blogging and Legal Threats; Phoenix New Times Arrests

Welcome to the first episode of the Citizen Media Law Podcast, providing practical knowledge and tools for citizen journalists. This week, David Ardia responds to the federal shield bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Colin Rhinesmith talks about legal threats to co-bloggers, and Sam Bayard reflects on the Phoenix New Times arrests.

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Some Thoughts on the Phoenix New Times Arrests

There's been extensive coverage (here, here, here, and here, to start) of the arrest and subsequent dismissal of charges against Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, the founders of the Phoenix New Times, a print newspaper that also publishes on its website. I'll add my voice to the chorus in order to elaborate on some of the legal issues at stake.

The facts are as follows: Starting in July 2004, the Phoenix New Times published a number of articles critical of Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. In one article published on its website in 2004, the newspaper disclosed Arpaio's home address as part of a story raising questions about his real estate holdings. The address was available in public records on the County Recorder and State Corporation Commission websites.

Authorities in Maricopa County began a criminal investigation of the newspaper for violation of section 13-2401 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which makes it a felony to

knowingly make available on the world wide web the personal information of a peace officer, justice, judge, commissioner, public defender or prosecutor if the dissemination of the personal information poses an imminent and serious threat to the peace officer's, justice's, judge's, commissioner's, public defender's or prosecutor's safety or the safety of that person's immediate family and the threat is reasonably apparent to the person making the information available on the world wide web to be serious and imminent.
Notice that the statute only applies to publication on the Internet, not to print publications. The New Times filed a lawsuit in federal court in Arizona seeking a declaration that section 13-2401 violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and an injunction barring Maricopa County law enforcement officials from investigating or prosecuting the newspaper for violation of the statute.

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