Access to Places

ANNOUNCEMENT: Live Web Chats on Reporting at the RNC & DNC

This Thursday, August 16, and again next Thursday, August 23, the Digital Media Law Project's own Andy Sellars will be joining Free Press and the International News Safety Institute to host live online sessions on reporting in conflict ar

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Proposed Reform of Massachusetts Open Meetings Law Disappoints

This weekend, the Boston Globe published a thoughtful op-ed by Robert Ambrogi on efforts to reform the Massachusetts open meetings law. Ambrogi points out that the current open meetings law does not provide for civil or criminal penalties against government officials who violate the law.

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Highlights from the Legal Guide: Gathering Private Information

This is the fifth in a series of posts calling attention to some of the topics covered in the Citizen Media Legal Guide we began publishing in January. This past month we rolled out the sections on Newsgathering and Privacy, which address the legal and practical issues you may encounter as you gather documents, take photographs or video, and collect other information.

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New Major League Baseball Restrictions on Press Credentials Hamstring Online Coverage

As an avid baseball fan, I should have been paying closer attention to the recent dispute over Major League Baseball's new restrictions on credentialing journalists who cover MLB games. A nice summary of the dispute on the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press' Sidebar Blog awoke me from my slumber.

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Democrats Accepting Applications from Bloggers to Cover 2008 Convention

CyberJournalist.net is reporting that the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) is  accepting applications from bloggers interested in being part of the credentialed blogger pool at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado:

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N.Y. City Backs Down on New Photography and Filming Rules

In June we reported that the New York Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting was considering new rules that would require any group of 2 or more people who want to use a camera on city property -- including sidewalks -- for more than a half hour to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance.

Not surprisingly, the new rules were roundly criticized from the start. The New York Civil Liberties Union, which said the rules encroached on First Amendment rights, threatened to file a lawsuit to invalidate them. One of the more interesting approaches was taken by Olde English, a comedy group based in New York City that created a rap video lampooning the new rules and directing viewers to contact the Office of Film to express their dissent. (Don't miss the video, it's great.)

The city has now backed down, following a strong public outcry by photographers and independent filmmakers. NY1 News reports:

The Mayor's Office of Film, Television, Theater and Broadcasting said Friday that it will re-evaluate its set of proposed rules that would have required permits and as much as a million dollars in insurance for small, independent productions. The announcement comes at the end of a 60-day public comment period on the policies. The organization Picture New York gathered a petition with 31,000 signatures opposing the rules.

According to NY1 News, the Office of Film says it will take the public's comments into account in the next draft of the rules.

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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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