Welcome to the website of the Digital Media Law Project. The DMLP was a project of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society from 2007 to 2014. Due to popular demand the Berkman Klein Center is keeping the website online, but please note that the website and its contents are no longer being updated. Please check any information you find here for accuracy and completeness.
When you publish information about someone without permission, especially personal or private information, you
potentially expose yourself to legal liability even if your portrayal
is factually accurate. While you should keep this potential liability in mind, the law generally gives online publishers quite a bit of breathing space to report and comment on matters of legitimate public concern, even when the person being discussed objects to the coverage.
Over the next few weeks I'll be posting about various topics we cover in the CMLP's Citizen Media Legal Guide. If you would like to read any of the previous "highlights" from the guide, you can find them here.
As reported by the Trademark Blog, Woody Allen is suing American Apparel for misappropriation of his name and likeness. Admittedly, it's not the heartland of citizen media, but it is a simple lesson on exactly what not to do with celebrity images.
Breaking news -- TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington is suing Facebook for unauthorized use of his name and likeness. In apparent disregard of the tech blogger's publicity rights, the social networking giant has been allowing advertisers to post ads on user profiles using Arrington's picture and name to endorse their products without permission.
In what appears to be the first case of its kind, a federal court in New Hampshire has ruled that the immunity provisions in section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230) do not bar a state law claim for a violation of a person's "right of publicity." In so holding, the court expressly disagreed with the Ninth Circuit's decision in Perfect 10 v. CCBill LLC, which held that CDA 230 exempts only federal intellectual property law claims from its protections.
The case involves the typically disturbing facts that often arise in the CDA 230 context. The plaintiff, proceeding pseudonymously, sued defendant Friendfinder Network, which operates a number of websites, including “AdultFriendFinder.com” that bills itself as “the World’s Largest SEX and SWINGER Personal Community.” To participate, users register by entering a variety of personal information, creating online profiles that can be viewed by other members of the community.
I blogged about Orthomom's victory on Friday. Here's another big win for a blogger recently. Last Monday, the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina granted summary judgment to Philip Smith in the lawsuit brought against him by BidZirk, LLC, Daniel Schmidt, and Jill Patterson.
We are looking for contributing authors with expertise in media law, intellectual property, First Amendment, and other related fields to join us as guest bloggers. If you are interested, please contact us for more details.