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November 2011

MediaLawLetter December 2010

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MediaLawLetter December 2010

 Download Publication MLRC Thank you, Bob Nelon, DCS President LEGISLATION Congress: Media Issues on the Hill: Wrapping-up and Looking Forward to the New YearCommittee Memberships, Espionage Act, Free Flow of Information Act, etc. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY S.D.N.Y.: HarperCollins Puts an End to Gawker’s Unauthorized Leaks of Palin’s America By HeartLikelihood of Success on Copyright Infringement ClaimHarperCollins…

Ethics Corner: ABA Issues Ethics Opinion On Lawyer Websites

What Are Lawyers’ Obligations to Website Visitors? The American Bar Association has issued a formal opinion on lawyer websites providing general guidance on how to comply with a number of ethical requirements. The ABA‘s Model Rules of Professional Conduct have been adopted and followed in many jurisdictions, and are generally seen as a polestar for…

Government Must Have Warrant to Obtain Person’s Emails From ISP

Fourth Amendment Must Keep Pace With Technological Progress The Sixth Circuit held that the government must obtain a warrant before it obtains a person‘s emails from their Internet service provider (ISP). U.S. v. Warshak, No. 08-3997 (6th Cir. Dec. 14, 2010) (Keith, Boggs, McKeague, JJ.). Describing email as the contemporary version of letters and telephone…


Goodbye Fair Comment (and Honest Opinion) Hello Honest Comment

By David Hooper and Jaron Lewis UK Supreme Court Issues Its First Libel Decision  The new UK Supreme Court has considered its first libel claim. In a unanimous decision, the Court has decided that the defense of fair comment should be modified, and renamed as “honest comment.” Spiller v. Joseph, [2010] UKSC 53. Lord Phillips…

A Nominal Win Against Google’s Street View

Trespass Claim Settles for $1 In stark contradiction to the privacy concerns raised and restrictions imposed by European countries on Google‘s Street View — a feature on Google Maps that offers panoramic, navigable views of streets in and around major cities — a similar challenge in the U.S. ends in a victory on the papers…


First Circuit Holds Maine Anti-SLAPP Statute Applies in Federal Court

In a non-media defamation case, the First Circuit held that the Maine anti-SLAPP statute, Me. Rev. Stat. 556, is applicable in federal court.  Godin v. Schencks, No.  09-2324, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS (1st Cir. Dec. 22, 2010) (Lynch, Torruella, Howard, JJ.).  Addressing an issue of first impression in the Circuit, the court looked to California…


Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Libel Claim Against the New York Post: Article Protected by Fair Report Privilege

Article Protected by Fair Report Privilege

In May 2007, a Brooklyn Muslim minister or imam was introduced to a young Egyptian woman through an on-line dating service that catered to followers of the Islamic faith.  Over the next few weeks, the couple engaged in a brief, but troubled courtship that ultimately left the young woman allegedly fearing for her life, left the imam defending against a civil lawsuit that the woman brought against him for libel, false imprisonment, and intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, and left the New York Post with a story about an unusual civil proceeding in the Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Alabama Court of Appeals Reinstates Public Official Libel Claim: Newspaper Applies for Rehearing

By Dennis R. Bailey

Newspaper Applies for Rehearing

In a 3 to 2 opinion, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals has held, as a matter of first impression in Alabama, that clear and convincing evidence of malice can be established by reporting the existence of a rumor about a politician on a matter of public concern which the reporter did not know was false but did not verify to be true.Benjamin L. Little v. Consolidated Publishing Company and Megan Nichols, No. 2090705 (Ala. App. Dec. 3, 2010).


Britney Spears’ Former Manager Not a Libel-Proof Plaintiff

Doctrine to Be Applied Sparingly if at All

A California appellate court undertook a lengthy analysis of the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine, concluding that it is not a bar to a libel suit brought by Sam Lufti, former manager of pop star Britney Spears.  Lufti v. Spears, 2010 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 9310  (Nov 23. 2010) (Chavez, Boren, Ashmann-Gerst, JJ.).  The court found that the libel-proof plaintiff doctrine is to be sparingly applied – if used at all.


JNOV For Massachusetts Newspaper Affirmed

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal affirmed JNOV in favor of the Brockton Enterprise Newspaper for lack of actual malice. Mazetis v. The Enterprise of Brockton, Inc. 2010 Mass. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1375 (Dec. 22, 2010).


Law Professors Win $5 Million in Libel and False Light Damages Against West Publishing

In an unusual libel and privacy claim over attribution, a Pennsylvania federal court jury awarded two law school professors $2,590,000 each in damages, finding they were defamed and placed in a false light by being credited as the authors of an out-of-date criminal law pocket part.  Rudovsky and Sosnov v. West Publishing Corp. et al.,…

U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Rule on Issues That May Impact “Do Not Track” Debate

By Thomas R. Julin

Much of the digital world fearfully focused its attention December 1, 2010, on a new Federal Trade Commission staff report entitled Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change. The report chided Internet companies for failing to do enough to warn consumers that their online activities are being tracked or to let them opt out of tracking.

Chords of Discord: Rock Stars Sue Politicians for Using Songs Without Permission

A number of highly publicized lawsuits have recently focused America’s attention on the fact that musical works are protected by copyright law.  Therefore, it would seem that everyone, especially politicians, should know that permission is required to use a copyrighted song.  Well, apparently, that is not always the case. While Republican voters used the mid-term…


Montz v. Pilgrim Films & Television, Inc.: A Tale of Two Conflicting Systems Of IP Law

By Louis P. Petrich On December 16, 2010, an eleven-judge en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal heard argument on whether an implied promise not to use ideas embedded in submitted works which fall within the subject matter of copyright are preempted by section 301(a) of the Copyright Act.  A decision will…

Dow Jones Hot News Case Ends With Admission of Liability, “Substantial” Payment by Briefing.Com

By Robert P. LoBue and Jason Conti In April 2010, Dow Jones & Company, Inc. filed a federal complaint against Chicago-based, Inc. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Dow Jones & Company, Inc. v., Inc., 10 Civ. 3321 (filed April 20, 2010)). Dow Jones alleged that…

HarperCollins Puts an End to Gawker’s Leaks of Govenor Palin’s America By Heart

Likelihood of Success on Copyright Infringement Claim HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. (HarperCollins), the publisher of the book America by Heart (the Book) by former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, planned to release the Book on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.  HarperCollins has prepared an elaborate roll-out of the Book leading up to the release date, with interviews and…


Media Issues on the Hill: Wrapping-up the 111th Congress and Looking Forward to the New Year

By Kathleen A. Kirby and Shawn A. Bone With the end of the 111th Congress finally upon us, Washington will have scant time to catch its breath before the 112th Congress convenes January 5th.  With at least 95 new Members, the freshman class in the 112th Congress is one of the largest in history.  Turnover…

Thank you, Bob Nelon, DCS President

On behalf of us all, I want to thank Bob Nelon for his service this past year as President of the Defense Counsel Section.  So many of you know Bob, and know what a wonderful, smart, organized and effective man and leader he is, and how appreciative we all are of his commitment to MLRC….