Citizen Journalism

YouTube Announces New Citizen News Channel


Earlier this week, YouTube announced that it had designated a news manager for the site and created a Citizen News channel. Olivia Ma, YouTube's new News Manager, announced the initiative on YouTube's blog:

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Check Out The SPJ Citizen Journalism Academy

The Society for Professional Journalists is hosting a series of one-day "Citizen Journalism Academy" workshops in Chicago (May 17), Greensboro, North Carolina (June 7), and Los Angeles (June 28). The idea is to provide training and information for citizen media creators on topics ranging from media ethics, to standard journalistic practices, to law. From SPJ:

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Ancel v. Bowles

Date: 

03/05/2008

Threat Type: 

Correspondence

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Adrian Bowles and Ronald Wimer

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Description: 

Amy Ancel, a local politician in Connecticut, posted a comment on WestportNow.com, a community news site in Westport Connecticut, in which she accused two users of the site of libeling her. The disputed comments occurred in a series of comments relating to the relocation of a local YMCA in which two users of the site, Adrian Bowles and Ronald Wimer, criticized her and questioned Ancel's placement of signs opposing her political opponent.

In a March 5, 2008 comment on the site, Ancel wrote:

[C]onsider this my notice to you and Mr. Wimer to cease and desist libeling me in this website, the newspapers, the Water Rats Parents’ Club website “Mahackeno Now,” Politicus Machamux and any other publications you and Mr. Wimer author or have access to. My next notice will come from my attorneys.

As of June 16, 2009, it appears that no action has been taken by any of the parties.

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CMLP Notes: 

Status checked on 6/02/08 (AAB)

Status checked on 6/16/09 (CMF)

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Heading to L.A. for Media Re:public Forum

I'll be quiet for a few days because I'm off to Los Angeles for a forum organized by Media Re:public, a Berkman Center project that examines the current and potential impact of participatory news media.

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CUNY Journalism School Launches Website to Help Citizen Journalists Avoid Legal Risk

In a project headed by Associate Professor Geanne Rosenberg, CUNY's Graduate School of Journalism has launched a new website -- Top 10 Rules for Limiting Legal Risk. The project, which is carried out in collaboration with the John S. and James L.

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New Hampshire to Stop Issuing ID Cards to Journalists

The Associated Press is reporting that New Hampshire will no longer issue identification cards to journalists. According to a report in Seacoastonline:

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Chinese Citizen Journalist Beaten to Death by City Officials

This is terrible news. CNN and TechCrunch reported Friday that city officials in central China beat a man to death for attempting to record a protest on his mobile phone.

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Mayhew v. Dunn

Date: 

11/16/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

David Dunn; Lise LePage and Christopher Grotke d/b/a/ Musearts Inc.

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Superior Court, Windham County, Vermont

Case Number: 

580-11-07 Wmcv

Legal Counsel: 

Jim Maxwell (for LePage and Grotke), Jesse Corum IV (for Dunn)

Publication Medium: 

Website

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Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Chris Grotke and Lise LePage, co-founders and owners of iBrattleboro.com, a citizen journalism site based in Brattleboro, Vermont, were sued on November 16 for libel based on a comment submitted by one of the site's users. The lawsuit, brought by Effie Mayhew, alleges that David Dunn, the former executive director of Rescue Inc., an emergency medical services organization where Mayhew works as a volunteer, libeled her in a comment on the site.

According to the complaint, on September 30, 2007, Dunn authored an article in which he

states without specificity general sexual liaisons are being conducted on the premises. Then he names Ms. Mayhew, further stating that she is conducting an "affair" with a "married member of the Rescue, Inc. board of trustees" indicating that this behavior was happening during "on call" hours at the agency.

The complaint doesn't appear to make any allegations that Grotke or LePage authored the allegedly defamatory statements, only that they failed to edit or remove the comment. As a result, Grotke and LePage are almost certainly shielded from liability under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ("CDA 230").

Under CDA 230, "[n]o provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." This immunity preempts state law causes of action, like defamation claims, that are based on "publisher" liability. Moreover, immunity exists even if a defendant edits comments (so long as the edits do not materially change the meaning of the statement) or otherwise exercises discretion in selecting which comments to post or remove.

Update:

12/3/07 - Defendants Grotke and LePage filed motion for judgment on the pleadings

3/18/08 - Court dismissed action under CDA 230 as to defendants LePage, Gotke, and MuseArts Inc.

9/2/08 - We were informed that the Court dismissed the remaining claim against David Dunn 

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CMLP Notes: 

To-Do: Get order dismissing David Dunn

User submitted (by email)

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User Feedback

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Citizen Media Law Podcast #3: News Media Clampdown in Pakistan; Sam Bayard Interview on Internet Solutions v. Marshall

This week, David Ardia talks about threats to the Internet in Pakistan and Colin Rhinesmith speaks with Sam Bayard about a recent entry in our new legal threats database.

Download the MP3 (time: 7:30)

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ONI Releases Bulletin on Internet Shutdown in Burma

Yesterday, the OpenNet Initiative released an excellent report on the recent Internet shutdown in Burma, entitled "Pulling the Plug: A Technical Review of the Internet Shutdown in Burma." Besides the eye-popping technical analysis ONI was able to carry out in a matter of weeks, the report contains a great overview of the dramatic events of late September and early October 2007, including the role that citizen journalists and

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Veranda Partners v. Giles (Lawsuit)

Date: 

03/09/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Veranda Partners, LLC

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Larry Giles

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

The Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, in and for Orange County, Florida

Case Number: 

48-2007-CA-002622-O

Legal Counsel: 

Marc Randazza, Derek Brett - Weston, Garrou, Walters & Mooney

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

Larry Giles set up a website called "The Veranda Park News," which covered events in his residential community, aesthetic issues in the neighborhood, and commentary. Allegedly, his site included statements to the effect that the housing developer of his community, Veranda Partners, misspent homeowners' dues, changed landscaping to unfairly enrich itself, and partnered with the City of Orlando in order to gain an unlawful business advantage.

Veranda Partners sent Giles a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that he take down the site. Giles apparently complied with this demand, but Veranda Partners sued him anyway, claiming that the statements on his site were defamatory. Giles's Answer raised numerous defenses, including that his statements were substantially true, his statements were covered by the fair comment privilege, and Veranda Partners' lawsuit was a SLAPP.  Giles also filed a counterclaim for violation of Florida's anti-SLAPP statute (Fla. Stat. § 720.304 (4)) and abuse of process.

Updates:

4/5/2007 - Giles filed a motion for abatement of the action.

4/23/2007 - Veranda Partners filed a motion to dismiss Giles's counterclaims, and Giles filed a motion to disqualify Veranda Partners' attorneys.

4/25/2007 - Giles filed a motion for a protective order relating to discovery matters.

5/15/2007 - The court denied Giles's motion to disqualify Veranda Partners' attorneys.

5/16/2007 - Giles filed a motion for sanctions.

8/21/2007 - Giles filed a motion for summary judgment.

4/18/2008 - Giles filed answer to the Amended Complaint.

5/27/2008 - Court granted Giles's motion to file an amended counterclaim .

6/16/2008 -  Verdanda Partners missed the deadline for filing an answer to the amended counterclaim.

8/15/2008 - Giles filed his second renewed motion for judgment on the pleadings and for summary judgment.

9/5/2008 -  Veranda Partners filed a motion for final default judgment.

9/11/2008 - Court granted Giles's renewed motion for summary judgment and entered a final default judgment against Veranda Partners on Giles's amended counterclaim.  The court awarded Giles $180,407,69 in treble damages under Florida's anti-SLAPP law, Fla. Stat. § 720.304 (4)

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CMLP Notes: 

TO-DO: court documents (especially court opinions on motions); get pleadings from Marc Randazza; check status

UPDATE: Marc Randazza's blog, The Legal Satyricon, has a bunch of documents for the case (and some updates) here: http://randazza.wordpress.com/2007/04/13/an-ongoing-defamation-suit/ {MCS}

Updated 6/6/2008 with Motion for Summary Judgment update in description and as a document (JMC).  

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Embedded Video and Copyright Infringement

Citizen journalists commonly embed video clips to illustrate a story or other posting. Sometimes, the posting itself (and its dissemination on YouTube) is the story. Have you ever wondered whether embedding that video clip might lead to copyright woes? If so, apparently you're not alone. There's been a good deal of discussion relating to this issue on various blogs and websites recently. The discussion took a humorous turn this week when a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judge inserted a link in an opinion directing readers to a YouTube video about George Brett's famous "pine-tar incident," only to find that the link was removed from YouTube due to a notice of infringement by Major League Baseball. (For more details see Eric Goldman's blog.)

The Blog Herald recently ran a story suggesting that, indeed, bloggers could be held liable for embedding an infringing video on their sites. The story quoted an IP attorney to the effect that "[a]ny time you incorporate a copyrighted work into a site without the rightsholders' consent, you're potentially liable. . . It doesn't matter where it's hosted." The story further indicated (on the opinion of the same attorney) that it does not matter if the person doing the embedding is aware of the infringing nature of the work because innocent infringement is just as actionable as intentional infringement.

Fred von Lohmann's informative post on EFF's Deep Links makes some good points that go a along way toward lightening up this rather gloomy picture. The post points out that an embedded YouTube video is just a link. So, there is "no copy of the YouTube video being stored on your server (only the HTML code for the embed)." A post on Techdirt last week made a similar observation, noting that "[a]ll you've done is put a single line of HTML on your page."

As von Lohmann writes, this makes embedded video just like any other in-line image links found on the web, including Google Image's search functionality. This is significant because an important recent case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Perfect 10 v. Google Inc., held that Google Image's in-line linking of copyrighted photographic images posted on third-party websites did not constitute direct copyright infringement of the plaintiff's display or distribution rights because no copies of the plaintiff's photographic images were stored on Google's computers. The court wrote:

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Delaminate the Bastards?!

Not unlike John Perry Barlow's 1996 Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, David Weinberger has penned a new declaration of independence. This time from the telecommunication cartels. In Delamination Now!, Weinberger eloquently explains the need for "network neutrality" and proposes a long-term solution to make that neutrality stick:

The way the old phone system was is the way the current suppliers of Internet connectivity are. That's not too surprising since the old phone companies are Internet carriers. The problem is the same and so is the solution. We should do to the carriers of Internet signals what we did to the carriers of telephone signals. Bust 'em up so that the companies that connect us to the Internet don't also sell us services over the Internet. Providing connection and providing content and services can and should be profitable businesses. They just shouldn't be the same business...just as you wouldn't want your local school owned by The Acme Textbook Company, or your safety inspectors supplied by The Acme Burglar Alarm Company. It's just too hard to resist your own brand. No, we have to bust up the carrier cartel. Structural separation. Divestiture. It's the only way to get the Internet that our economy, culture and democracy need.

If you have been wondering what the hubbub about network neutrality is all about, you won't want to miss Delamination Now!

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Google Opens Internal Public Policy Blog

Not citizen media law related per se, but with Google's reach, it's recently opened Public Policy Blog, which offers "Google's views on government, policy and politics," is going to be must reading.   As Cory Doctorow reports:

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Yale Law School to Host New Law & Media Program

Yale Law School announced on May 14 that with the help of the Knight Foundation, it will launch the Knight Law and Media Scholars Program.  The program will include law and media courses, scholars, research fellowships, summer internships, career counseling, and an annual training program for "midcareer journalists."  It also will feature a speaker series and a student organization focused on law and media.

In announcing the initiative, YLS's Dean Koh said: 

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