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demand the Berkman Klein Center is keeping the website online, but please note that the website and its contents are no longer being updated.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.
Earlier this week the Supreme Court handed down its eagerly awaited decision in FCC v. Fox. In a 5-4 vote, the Court rejected Fox's argument that the Federal Communication Commission had violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to give sufficient justification for its new policy banning "fleeting expletives" on broadcast radio and television.
Over the past few weeks everyone at the CMLP and Harvard's Cyberlaw Clinic (with whom we share an office) has been focused on the question of what legal protections courts should apply to anonymous speech (see this post about our amicus participation in the Maxon v. Ottawa Publishing case). When you are immersed in an issue like this, it is easy to forget how lucky we are to live in a country that has robust protections for speech.
In a post earlier this week, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist reminds us that our neighbor to the north is grappling with this same issue, but has come up with a very different answer. In his post, Geist reports that an Ontario court has ordered the operators of the right-wing Canadian forum site, FreeDominion.ca, to turn over personally identifying information for eight anonymous posters to the site.
My colleague Ethan Zuckerman just put up a disturbing post about Kubatana, a prominent Zimbabwean NGO, which saw its site taken down because its hosting provider, Bluehost, got cold feet after it discovered the site contained content from (gasp!) Zimbabwe.
Kubatana, among other things, hosts websites for prominent activist organizations like Women of Zimbabwe Arise. For the past two years, Kubatana has hosted a joint blog
for a wide range of Zimbabwean citizens that has, according to Ethan, "been one of the key
sources of information and perspective for people around the world who
follow Zimbabwe, and a critical outlet for Zimbabweans who have few
other ways to communicate."
In the latest case involving the absurd and unconstitutional obscenity statutes, the Fourth Circuit has upheld a conviction of a man for mere private possession of allegedly obscene material. See United States v. Whorley, __F.3d__ (4th Cir. 2008). While the facts may not fit any conduct in which you might engage, the logic could very well ensnare you one day.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down one of the most constitutionally repugnant provisions of the PATRIOT Act -- the portions of the Act that place recipients of so-called "national security letters" (NSLs) under a permanent, unreviewed, lifetime gag order. See Doe v. Mukasey, __ F.3d __ (2d. Cir. 2008).
The Supreme Court in the state where "Live Free or Die" adorns the license plates has answered the question "why can't producers of adult films be charged with prostitution?" The short answer -- because it would violate the First Amendment (or at least the New Hampshire Constitution's equivalent thereof). See New Hampshire v. Theriault, No. 2007-601 (N.H. Sup. Ct. Dec. 4, 2008).
Michael "Bobby" Hammond, 21, inspired by his recent participation in the annual World Naked Bike Ride -- an event that protests against car culture, decided to take his vintage 10-speed bicycle for a spin through the streets of
Portland, Oregon while wearing nothing but a bicycle helmet.
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.