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Florida Court Restricts Reporter's Use of Laptop During Murder Trial

As if there hasn't been enough judicial scrutiny of live media coverage during ongoing trials recently, last week a Florida court banned a Florida Times-Union reporter from live-blogging during a high-profile murder trial in the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Duval County, Florida.

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Google's "Oprah" Moment, Gwyneth Paltrow's Rave, and Two Tests for FTC's Endorsement Guides

It could have been a moment right out of The Oprah Winfrey Show.  But instead of the entire audience getting Pontiac G6s (click here for a fun mash-up video of that big event), all the reporters attending the unveiling of Google's new Nexus One mobile phone on January 5 were given a special offer: they could get one of the phones for free, or to opt for a free, 30-day trial, after which the phone will be returned (loan agreement). (The free offer is mentioned in the 1:55 p.m. posting on this Wall Street Journal live blog of the press conference.)  It appears that some other reporters who were not at the event also got the phones.

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Is There a Mini Constitution in Sky Mall? How the TSA Forgets Citizens' Rights

In recent years, the American public seems to have fallen under the impression that providers and regulators of airline travel have extra-legal powers. These fictional powers typically mean that passengers can be treated like cattle.

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CMLP Publishes New Guide to FTC Disclosure Requirements for Product Endorsements

As part of our legal guide series on Risks Associated with Publication, today CMLP published a guide to Publishing Product or Service Endorsements

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Some Gray Areas Surrounding the FTC's Disclosure Requirements

On this page, we look at some areas where it is not entirely clear how the FTC's Guidelines will apply to online publishing activities:

The Occasional Freebie. Perhaps the most troubling gray area is whether you have to disclose your "relationship" with a company that sends you a freebie once in a while in anticipation of your writing a review about it, but with whom you have no other formal ties. It is not clear how the FTC will deal with this situation.

Complying With the FTC's Disclosure Requirements

If you have a relationship with a company that needs to be disclosed, then you should do so in a "clear and conspicuous" manner. Don't put it in small print or hide it away on a backwater page on your website. You want readers to easily notice the disclosure, and you want them to understand it. So make the disclosure clear and unambiguous so it can be understood by the average reader.

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Avoid Misleading and Unsubstantiated Claims

The FTC Guidelines state that, besides disclosing "material connections" with advertisers, endorsements "must reflect the honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experience of the endorser" and "may not convey any express or implied representation that would be deceptive if made directly by the advertiser." Guides, at 60.

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Some Gray Areas Surrounding the FTC's Disclosure Requirement

On this page, we look at some areas where it is not entirely clear how the FTC's Guidelines will apply to online publishing activities:

The Occasional Freebie.  Perhaps the most troubling gray area is whether you have to disclose your "relationship" with a company that sends you a freebie once in a while in anticipation of your writing a review about it, but with whom you have no other formal ties.  It is not clear how the FTC will deal with this situation. 

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Is the FTC Really Going To Sue Bloggers?

Many are asking whether the FTC is really going to sue bloggers and other users of social media.  The short answer is "probably not," but no one can say for sure.  In a series of recent interviews with Internet publications, FTC staff have bent over backwards to downplay the risks to bloggers, and by implication, other users of social media.  For example:

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It Is Easy To Comply With the FTC's Disclosure Requirement

If you have a relationship with a company that needs to be disclosed, then you should do so in a "clear and conspicuous" manner.  Don't put it in small print or hide it away on a backwater page on your website. You want readers to easily notice the disclosure, and you want them to understand it.  So make the disclosure clear and unambiguous so it can be understood by the average reader.

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The Disclosure Requirement Only Applies to "Endorsements"

Bloggers and users of social media only need to disclose their relationship with a company when they "endorse" a product of service.  Accordingly, for the vast majority of online publishers, the Guidelines probably won't come into play much.  But if you publish reviews or otherwise regularly discuss products and services, the Guidelines could impact your work, and you should have a sense of what constitutes an "endorsement."

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The Federal Trade Commission Guidelines on Product and Service Endorsements

The Federal Trade Commission's new "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" (the "Guidelines") may impose a disclosure requirement on bloggers and social media users who review or otherwise write about products and services.  The Guidelines, which officially went into effect on December 1, call for online publishers to disclose "material connections" they have with a company whose products or services they "endorse.

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One of the Classic Blunders: Microsoft’s De-Listing Campaign Makes No Sense

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, Microsoft held talks with News Corp. in an attempt to convince the titan of information to de-list its content from Google.

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Citizen Media Law Project Launches Legal Assistance Network for Online Journalists

We are delighted to announce the public launch of the Berkman Center's Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), a new pro bono (i.e., free!) initiative that connects lawyers and law school clinics from across the country with online journalists and digital media creat

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