Newsgathering

Kansas Court Issues Search Warrant to Lawrence Journal-World Seeking Identity of Anonymous User

Last month, an investigator at Kansas University delivered a search warrant to the Lawrence Journal-World, a highly regarded newspaper in Lawrence, Kansas, demanding access to their computer servers in order to get information about the identity of a user who had posted comments on the paper's website, LJWorld.com.

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Massachusetts v. Lowney

Date: 

12/01/2007

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Peter Lowney

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

Brighton District Court, Massachusetts

Verdict or Settlement Amount: 

$500.00

Publication Medium: 

Website

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Verdict (plaintiff)

Description: 

Peter Lowney, a political activist from Newton, Massachusetts, was convicted in December 2007 of violating the Massachusetts wiretapping statute (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99) and sentenced to six months probation and fined $500. The criminal case arose out of Lowney's concealed videotaping of a Boston University police sergeant during a political protest in 2006. Apparently Lowney was shooting footage of the protest when police ordered him to stop and then arrested him for continuing to operate the camera while hiding it in his coat. According to a press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the footage appears to have been posted on a "video-sharing website." As part of the sentencing, the court ordered Lowney to remove the footage from the Internet.

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CMLP Notes: 

to-do: monitor to see if there is an appeal; if not, switch to "concluded"

Massachusetts Wiretapping Law Strikes Again

Boston Now reports that Peter Lowney, a political activist from Newton, Massachusetts, was convicted last week of violating the Massachusetts wiretapping statute (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99) and sentenced to six months probation and fined $500. The criminal case arose out of Lowney's concealed videotaping of a Boston University police sergeant during a political protest in 2006.

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Content Type: 

NCAA v. Bennett

Threat Type: 

Denial of Access

Date: 

06/10/2007

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

NCAA; University of Louisville

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Brian Bennett; Louisville Courier-Journal

Type of Party: 

Large Organization

Type of Party: 

Individual
Media Company

Legal Counsel: 

Jon Fleischaker

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Description: 

Brian Bennett, a blogger and reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper, had his media credentials revoked for blogging during a live NCAA baseball final game. The NCAA said that Bennett was in violation of its policy banning live internet updates during champtionship games.

A few days after the controversy, the NCAA said that it had given "incorrect information" to Bennett. The NCAA clarified its proper position, saying that live updates from NCAA events are permitted as long as the updates only include scores and time remaining.

The Courier-Journal reported that originally considered suing the NCAA for infringing upon Bennett's First Amendment rights, but it appears that the newspaper will not take any legal action.

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CMLP Notes: 

Status checked on 6/5/2008, no new information.  The NCAA has updated its rules on blogging since the incident, however.  (AAB)

Jurisdiction: 

Exclusive Rights: The Wrong Goal for NFL

The NFL just doesn't know when to stop. The Washington Post reports on a new NFL policy limiting journalists' use of video online:

In a move designed to protect the Internet operations of its 32 teams, the pro football league has told news organizations that it will no longer permit them to carry unlimited online video clips of players, coaches or other officials, including video that the news organizations gather themselves on a team's premises. News organizations can post no more than 45 seconds per day of video shot at a team's facilities, including news conferences, interviews and practice-field reports.

Now this policy isn't copyright-based -- the NFL doesn't have copyright in the un-fixed statements of its players and coaches -- but good old real property law. The NFL teams own their facilities, and with them have the right to exclude people physically, as trespassers. So the NFL is telling sportswriters, who depend on physical access to gather the background for their stories, they'll be barred at the gates if they use more than 45 seconds of video online.

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Teen Arrested for Videotaping Police

An 18 year-old from Carlisle, Pennsylvania has been charged with a felony under Pennsylvania's wiretap statute -- for videotaping a police officer during a traffic stop.

Brian D. Kelly didn't think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film. [...] Kelly, 18, of Carlisle, was arrested on a felony wiretapping charge, with a penalty of up to 7 years in state prison. [...] Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone's oral conversation without their consent.

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