Journalism

A New Leistungsschutzrecht? Say It's Nicht So!

It's tough being a publisher these days.  Of course, no one is having much fun in the current economic downturn, but publishers were up against it even before the slowdown.  Circulations have been down across the board for years now, which in turn has slashed the advertising revenues that print publications have always relied upon to survive.  It's just a bad time to be publishing newspapers and magazines, at least while using the classical publishing business model.

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The AP of Oz: Associated Press Prohibits Reporters from Peeking Behind its False DRM Curtain

Last Friday, the Associated Press briefly became the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz. It announced, in a booming press release, an “initiative to protect news content from unauthorized use online.” To accomplish this feat, the AP will use an informational “wrapper” embedded in its product.

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State of New York v Democrat and Chronicle

Date: 

07/01/2009

Threat Type: 

Subpoena

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Steve Orr; Democrat and Chronicle

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual
Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Supreme Court of the State of New York, Monroe County

Legal Counsel: 

Christopher Thomas

Publication Medium: 

Print
Website

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Subpoena Enforced

Description: 

Assistant District Attorney Timothy L. Prosperi subpoenaed Democrat and Chronicle reporter Steve Orr to testify in the criminal trial of Kevin I. Vickers, who is charged with removing body parts from two Monroe County funderal homes in 2005.  The DA sought testimony about statements that Orr attributed to Vickers in a story that appeared on the Democrat and Chronicle's website in 2006.  He also sought Orr's notes from an interview with Vickers before the story was published.

On July 24, 2009, Justice Dennis M. Kehoe ruled that Orr must testify and turn over the notes, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.  The Democrat and Chronicle plans to appeal the court's ruling, and Justice Kehoe stayed his order pending appeal.

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The Future of Digital Book Burning: Why Remote Line-Item Retraction is Scarier than Remote Volume Deletion

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First Amendment Protects TechCrunch's Publication of (Some) Hacked Twitter Documents

There's an interesting debate afoot about TechCrunch's decision to publish selected documents it received from someone who hacked into the email accounts of Twitter CEO Evan Williams and other Twitter employees.

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Complaints at Teatime! The Shaw-Skinner Lawsuit and the Futility of Legal Duels

Pistols at Dawn!” has become “Subpoenas at Noon!” or “Complaints at Teatime!” Today’s legal duelists, armed with dubious lawsuits charging defamation, are B.F. Shaw Printing, the parent company of the Northwest Herald, and Cal Skinner, a blogger.

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Thou Shalt Not Use Multimedia in Vain

This week, PBS MediaShift's Mark Glaser laid out his ten commandments for local newspapers that want to survive in the digital age. Sixth on his list of ten tweets was "smart multimedia." "Don't do it just to do it," Glaser says.

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Young v. New Haven Advocate

Date: 

05/12/2000

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

The New Haven Advocate; Gail Thompson; Camille Jackson; Michael Lawlor; Carolyn Nah; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Alvin Penn; The Hartford Courant; Brian Toolan; Amy Pagnozzi; The Connecticut Post; Rick Sawyers; Ken Dixon

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual
Large Organization
Media Company

Court Type: 

Federal

Court Name: 

United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia; US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit

Case Number: 

2:00-cv-00086 (W.D.Va.); No. 01-2340 (4th Cir.)

Legal Counsel: 

Robert Douglass Lystad – Baker & Hostetler, LLP

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Dismissed (total)

Description: 

The warden of a Virginia prison sued two Connecticut newspapers for libel in a Virginia court, asserting that they published defamatory articles about him on their websites. In his complaint, Young asserted the newspapers implied he was racist and that he encouraged guards to abuse inmates. Compl. ¶ 7.

On Oct. 4, 2000, the New Haven Advocate and the Hartford Courant filed motions to dismiss the suit on the grounds that a Virginia court cannot exercise personal jurisdiction over Connecticut newspapers. The United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia denied the motion, stating the court could exercise jurisdiciton under Virginia law because the "defendants' Connecticut-based Internet activities constituted an act leading to an injury to the plaintiff in Virginia."

The newspapers appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which reversed the lower court's decision. In its opinion, the court said the Connecticut newspapers could not constitutionally be subject to jurisdiction in a Virginia court because "they did not manifest an intent to aim their websites or the posted articles at a Virginia audience."

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear Young's appeal on May 19, 2003.

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CMLP Notes: 

Source: Westclip

PACER doesn't have the documents.  Some are available on Westlaw at 315 F.3d 256 (click Full History for others)

CMF - 6/2/09

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1-High

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Journalism Graduates: It's Time to Reinvent Journalism

Spring is upon us and with it comes commencement season at universities across the country (Harvard's 358th commencement is this Thursday, FYI).  This is a tough time for graduates in almost every discipline, but especially so for journalism grads.  At least that is the conventional wisdom. 

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NY Legislature Proactively Considering Whether Shield Law Applies to Bloggers? How Novel!

As anyone who's been faithfully reading the CMLP blog knows, the law hasn't been particularly good at dealing with the intersection of media shield laws and bloggers.  Although there seems to be a modest trend towards application of shield laws to anonymous commenters on news stories, the judiciary's application of shield laws to bloggers has been pretty

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AP Tells Google and Other News Aggregators to Pay Up or Face Lawsuits

The Associated Press has announced that it is willing to fight over the question of who owns the content its member newspapers produce, even if it means no longer playing nice with the giants of the Web like Google.

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The Mortgage Specialists, Inc. v. Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc.

Date: 

11/12/2008

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Implode Explode Heavy Industries, Inc.

Type of Party: 

Organization

Type of Party: 

Organization

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Rockingham County Superior Court, New Hampshire

Case Number: 

08-E-572

Legal Counsel: 

William L. Chapman, Jeremy D. Eggleton - Orr & Reno, PA

Publication Medium: 

Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Injunction Issued
Material Removed

Description: 

The following is a user-submitted description:

Mortgage lender Mortgage Specialists filed a petition for injunctive relief against Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, a website that reports and publishes stories concerning the US housing-finance sector.  In one story, Implode Explode covered Mortgage Specialists, a New Hampshire corporation.  As part of the story, Implode Explode posted a .pdf copy of a document it received from an anonymous source, detailing Mortgage Specialists' loan volume in recent years.  Mortgage Specialists sued Implode Explode seeking an order compelling Implode Explode to refrain from posting the document, to disclose the identity of the source of the document, to produce all other documents obtained from the same source, and to disclose the identity of an anonymous poster who commented on the article about Mortgage Specialists and allegedly made defamatory statements.

The trial court rejected Implode Explode's arguments on personal jurisdiction and on the merits, granting all of Mortgage Specialists' requests for relief.  Implode Explode has a filed a motion to stay the injunctive order pending appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.  Questions on appeal would involve: the right to publish under the New York Times standard; the protection of sources under the New Hampshire qualified reporter's privilege; the application of the test for injunctive relief where the petitioner's claims are against a third party and not the respondent; and the application of the Dendrite Test to the compelled disclosure of anonymous posters on websites.

Update:

4/7/09 - Implode-Explode Heavy Industries, Inc. filed a notice of appeal from Justice McHugh's order.

4/14/2009 - Justice McHugh stayed most of his order pending pending appeal.

6/22/2009 - Citizen Media Law Project and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted amicus brief in N.H. Supreme Court. ML-Implode filed its appellant's brief.

7/22/2009 - Mortgage Specialists filed its appellee's brief.

8/6/2009 - Implode-Explode filed its reply brief.

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Priority: 

1-High

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Threat Source: 

User Submission Form

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Senator Cardin Introduces Bill to Allow Newspapers to Operate as Nonprofits

United States Senator Benjamin Cardin today introduced legislation that would allow newspapers to become nonprofit organizations in what he described as "an effort to help the faltering [newspaper] industry survive."

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Twitter Moves to Federal Court

The fights over whether blogging ought to be allowed during trials -- and whether it's good journalism -- aren't even over, and a new front has opened in the war over technology and its proper role in coverage of the justice system.

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Live-blogging journalism? You betcha. It's just not always good journalism.

As a young journalist, I remember listening with interest to colleagues recounting long-ago fights for the right to bring cameras into the court room. And while that battle hasn't been won everywhere, it appears nevertheless to be giving way to a new wave of concerns.

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Live Blogging in the Courtroom, Is It Journalism?

One of the recurring themes I've discovered in my reading assignments for law school is that judges are, by and large, not technologically savvy.  Far from it, in fact.  Thus, it was of great interest to me to find an ABA Journal article about U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett, who recently allowed a journalist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette to blog live during the a tax fraud trial in his Sioux City, Iowa, court.

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Thoughts on the Value of Journalism in the Wake of GateHouse v. New York Times Settlement

The fallout from the GateHouse v. New York Times settlement, anticlimactic as it was, has been fascinating, and deliciously exhaustive in the way that only Internet-based discussions of Internet-related issues can be.

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Authors: Government Censorship Better than Corporate

LA Observed has a post about how KRON TV in San Francisco disinvited the authors of a new book from a talk-show appearance after discovering that the book, No Time to Think: The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle, takes shots at the crappy state of local TV news. My initial reaction was incredulity. I mean, how clueless is that kind of move?

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