Journalism

Tell Us, Judge Posner, Who Watches the Watchmen?

In what is now their widely publicized exchange, U

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Law School for Digital Journalists – Online Registration Closes September 16!

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

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Newsgathering Law: A Guide for Reporting

I'm excited to announce the latest installment in a series of legal modules we are publishing in conjunction with Poynter's News University.

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Dan Snyder Gets a Taste of D.C.'s New Anti-SLAPP Law

We've previously mentioned Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's lawsuit against the Washington City Paper.

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Righthaven LLC v. BuzzFeed, Inc.

Date: 

03/30/2011

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

BuzzFeed, Inc; Gavin Laessig; Jonah Peretti

Type of Party: 

Media Company

Type of Party: 

Media Company

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the District of Colorado

Case Number: 

1:11-cv-00811

Legal Counsel: 

Kathryn Reed DeBord; Peter John Korneffel, Jr.

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

Righthaven LLC, a Las Vegas company, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against BuzzFeed, Inc. (the operator of an internet news website), Jonah Peretti (the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed and the registrant of the domain name buzzfeed.com), and Gavin Laessig (an employee of BuzzFeed).  Righthaven alleges that the defendants reposted on the BuzzFeed website, without permission, a photograph of a TSA agent performing an enhanced pat-down check that was originally published in The  Denver Post.  In addition to seeking monetary damages, Righthaven has demanded that the court compel BuzzFeed’s domain name registrar to transfer control of the buzzfeed.com domain to Righthaven.

Defendants BuzzFeed and Peretti answered the complaint, denying Righthaven’s claims of copyright infringement and asserting numerous affirmative defenses to the complaint (including challenging Righthaven’s ownership of the copyright in the photo, claiming copyright abuse, asserting a lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendants and a lack of proper venue in Colorado, and objecting to transfer of the buzzfeed.com domain name as a remedy beyond the scope of the Copyright Act).  BuzzFeed and Mr. Peretti further asserted that valid service had not been made on the third defendant, Mr. Laessig.

Defendants BuzzFeed and Peretti also filed a class action counterclaim against Righthaven based upon its filing suit for copyright infringement in at least 275 cases, primarily in Nevada and Colorado.  The counterclaim seeks a declaratory judgment that the class/counterclaim plaintiffs’ use of the alleged copyrighted works was fair use and an injunction against Righthaven filing additional copyright lawsuits.  The counterclaim also includes claims for abuse of process and violation of Colorado’s unfair and deceptive trade practices statute, C.R.S. § 6-1-105, based upon Righthaven’s litigation history.  Specifically, the counterclaim alleges that Righthaven (1) failed to send the class/counterclaim plaintiffs any notice and takedown communication prior to filing suit, (2) sought relief to which it knew it was not entitled by seeking locking and transfer of domain names, (3) asserted ownership of copyrights that it did not own, (4) failed to investigate or adequately allege personal jurisdiction over the class plaintiffs, (5) failed to investigate whether the challenged uses of the copyrights were fair use, and (6) abused the legal system by using the threat of statutory damages and injunctive relief to extract monetary settlements.

Update:

5/19/2011:  After the filing of BuzzFeed’s answer and counterclaim, the court stayed the action (as well as all other Righthaven litigation in the District of Colorado) in response to a motion to dismiss in another Righthaven case in the district (Righthaven LLC v. Wolf et al., No. 1:2011-cv-00830) raising questions of subject matter jurisdiction.

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Announcing OpenCourt

It is a fundamental principle of the United States legal system that courts should be open to the public.  This principle is widely regarded as more aspirational than factual, because of numerous practical barriers to courtroom access -- not the least of which is that most of us do not have the time or ability to travel to the court to witness proceedings in person.  While the news media report on judicial proceedings,

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CMLP and Cyberlaw Clinic Urge First Circuit to Affirm First Amendment Right to Make Cellphone Recording of Police

With the help of Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic, the Citizen Media Law Project and a coalition of media and advocacy organizations submitted an amicus curiae brief last week to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in a case involving a lawyer who was arrested for using his ce

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Online Media Legal Network Announces Partnership with Investigative News Network

We are pleased to announce that the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN) is partnering with the Investigative News Network (INN) to help INN member organizations find pro bono and low-cost legal help. We are honored to join forces with INN, whose members are engaged in some of the most exciting and innovat

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Who's Afraid of the News Aggregators?

As anyone who has been following the debate regarding the "future of journalism" knows, there have been a lot of ink (and bytes) spilled arguing over the role news aggregators are playing in the "decline" of traditional journalistic models.  Rupert Murdoch has labeled the practice of news aggregation by entities like Google News "

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Appeals Court to Filmmaker: Turn Over Your Footage to Chevron

A federal appellate court has issued a swift ruling, in a high profile reporter's privilege case, that requires a filmmaker to surrender some of his unpublished footage to a powerful oil company.

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Court Battle for Filmmaker's Footage Spurs National Debate on Reporter's Privilege

A filmmaker's fight against an oil company seeking his raw documentary footage has spurred a national debate on the reporter's privilege, pitting media organizations and filmmakers against powerful corporations and criminal defense attorneys.  At stake is the breadth of the protection given to unpublished newsgathering materials and, ultimately, the basic trust between journalists and their sources.

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An Ounce of Prevention: Protecting yourself against online retaliation

Last week I discussed recent news stories highlighting the dangers of online retaliation. At worst, this form of retaliation chills speech and threatens critical reporting.

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Logging In and Lashing Out: 'Crowdsourced retaliation' presents new challenges to journalists

Critics have always run the risk of retaliation. They have not, however, always run the risk of having their personal phone number micro-blogged to over 115,000 people in a split second.

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FTC's Provocative Discussion Paper on Saving Print Media

The Federal Trade Commission—which last year created guidelines to impose ethical standards on bloggers—is now taking on the ambitious task of saving the print media in the Internet era.

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Out of the Lab and Into the Fray, Scientists and Science Writers Talk About the New Media Environment

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Google/Youtube v Greg Sandoval

Threat Type: 

Other

Date: 

03/26/2010

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Greg Sandoval; CNET News

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Case Number: 

07 Civ 3582 LLS

Legal Counsel: 

unknown

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Description: 

This entry was submitted by a guest on March 28, 2010.

An attorney for Google and YouTube indicated today that the Web giants may call a prominent tech reporter to the witness stand in an effort to reveal who leaked the journalist confidential documents from the ongoing Viacom and Premier League copyright cases.

Speaking (March 26 2010) at a hearing before federal judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan, Google/YouTube lead trial counsel Andrew Schapiro of Mayer Brown LLP said he "would certainly be interested...about hearing from" CNET News reporter Greg Sandoval in the event the court holds a trial over the issue of who leaked the reporter information, including deposition testimony from Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in the fall of 2009.

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User Submission Form

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Government Data: This Data Was Made for You and Me?

In March, Google launched its Public Data Explorer, expanding upon its public data search feature that's been around since last spring.

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A Video Recap of CMLP's April 9th Conference, Journalism's Digital Transition

On April 9, 2010, the Citizen Media Law Project and the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School hosted a one-day symposium and CLE program, "Journalism's Digital Transition: Unique Legal Challenges and Opportunities."

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