Newsgathering

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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Citizen Media Law Project Publishes Newsgathering Section of Legal Guide

Back in January, we announced the launch of the first two major sections of the Citizen Media Law Project's Legal Guide covering Forming a Business and Getting Online and Dealing with Online Legal Risks.

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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.

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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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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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