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January 2004

MediaLawLetter February 2004


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Bulletin: MLRC 2004 Report on Trials and Damages
Trials Against Media Defendants

Legislative: Legislative Affairs Update: Congress Considers Indecency Bills
Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act; Database and Collections of Information Misappropriation Act; Congressional Research Accessibility Act


S.Ct.: Supreme Court Rejects Appeal by Sammy “The Bull” Gravano
Application of forfeiture statutes to book proceeds
State v. Gravano

S.Ct.: Supreme Court Rejects 9/11 Access Appeal
Deportation proceedings were closed
US v. Bellahouel


W.D. Mo.: Judge Issues, Then Rescinds, Prior Restraint in Libel Case
Following the lifting of the order, TV station identified man caught in Internet sex sting
John Doe v. KCTV-5

Ind. Cir. Ct.: Indiana Mayor Wins Libel Trial Against Local Newspaper
Jury awards $235,000 in compensatory damages and punitives for publication of political ad
Shepard v. The Daily Clintonian

Mo. Cir. Ct.: Substantial Truth and Fair Report Support Summary Judgment in Doctor’s Suit
Court follows rule that language must be evaluated in context
Marylou Davis, M.D. v. KMOV-TV and Multimedia KSDK, Inc.

Cal. App.: California Appeals Ct. Affirms Dismissal of Libel Suit Against San Diego Union-Tribune
Court finds statement concerning a person’s motivation is generally a matter of opinion
Atiga v. San Diego Union-Tribune

Ohio App.: Ohio Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Newspaper
Jury could find quotes were fabricated
Murray v. Beacon Journal Publishing Company

La. Dist. Ct.: Louisiana Court Dismisses Lawsuit by Mardi Gras Reveler
Judge suggests person riding float at Mardi Gras parade assumes risk of publicity
Johnson v. John Wiley & Sons Publishers, et al.

N.D. Tex.: No Jurisdiction Over German Publishers in Texas
Court finds Europe, not Texas, was the “geographic focus” of articles
Fielding v. Hubert Burda Media, Inc.

N.Y.A.D.: Flynn on The Hot Seat in “Mulberry Street”
Libel and fraud claims continue over professor’s research project
164 Mulberry St. Corp. v. Columbia University

N.M.: Court Rules that One Scholar’s Criticism of Another is Not Defamatory
Court deems comments, in context of academic community, to be understood as non-defamatory
Fikes v. Furst

E.D. Tex.: Scott O’Grady Misappropriation/Lanham Act Case Settles During Trial
Air force pilot shot down in Bosnia sued Discovery Channel under Lanham Act

N.J. App.: Plaintiff Must Plead Actual Malice with Specificity to Defeat Fair Report Privilege
Court says allowing case to continue on a mere allegation of actual malice violates free speech
Darakjian v. Hanna

W.D. Pa.: Bare Allegation that Corporate Officer was Responsible for Content of Broadcast
Is Sufficient to Overcome Fraudulent Joinder Argument
Joyce v. NextMedia Operating, Inc., et al.

Ill. Cir. Ct.: Newspaper Is Immune from Liability for Publishing Name of Juvenile Sex Offender
Juvenile Court Act conferred immunity for secondary release of legally obtained information
Doe v. Kankakee Daily Journal Company

Tex. App.: Court Affirms Denial of Summary Judgment in Public Official Libel Case
Record presented fact issues of actual malice and substantial truth
The Hearst Corporation, et al. v. Jack Skeen, Jr. et al.

Mass. Super.: Trial Court Rules that Single Publication Rule Applies to Internet Publication
Decision continues trend seen last month in Georgia and Mississippi decisions
Abate v. Maine Antique Digest


Ala.: Judge Seeks Guidance from Alabama Supreme Court in Reporter’s Privilege Case
Federal district judge asks state supreme court whether shield law protects magazine reporters
Price v. Time, Inc. and Don Yaeger

N.J.: Super. Rare Rejection of Reporter’s Privilege by New Jersey Court
Court orders reporter to reveal source for article in criminal case after other witnesses testify
State v. Daly


11th Cir.: Appeal Heard in Morris v. PGA: Are There Property Rights in Real Time Golf Scores?
Outcome will significantly impact the ability of news agencies to timely report facts via Internet
Morris v. PGA Tour

2d Cir.: Closure of Voir Dire in Martha Stewart Trial Was Error
Substantial media coverage of the case was not enough to warrant wholesale closure
In re ABC Inc., et al.

Cal. Super.: News Organizations Battle for Access to Michael Jackson Proceedings and Records
Coalition of major media entities fight on several fronts to ensure maximum public access
People v. Michael Jackson

Cal. App.: California Appellate Court Upholds ‘No Cameras’ Ruling in Peterson Trial
Final order entered barring television coverage
People v Peterson

Tex.: Texas Attorney General Rules that State Access Law Limits HIPAA Privacy Rule
Government bodies using HIPAA as a shield must reconsider disclosure

Ala.: Court Rules that a Public Corporation is Subject to State’s Open Records Law
Unanimous decision applies open records law to a public corporation for the first time
Water Works and Sewer Bd. of the City of Talladega v. Consolidated Publishing, Inc.

N.J. Super.: Judge Orders Release of Malpractice Payment Notices
Assignment judge orders State to provide notices to local newspaper
North Jersey Media Group Inc. v. State of New Jersey

D.C. Cir.: Court Rejects First Amendment Right to Accompany Troops in Battle
Court found no basis for claim that military must accommodate press corps at war
Flynt v. Rumsfeld

Cal.: Univ. of California Regents Ordered to Disclose Meeting Transcripts and Investment Info
Regents exhaust appellate options; high court upholds lower court rulings forcing disclosure
Coalition of University Employees v. Regents of University of California


California: Playboy and Netscape Settle Web Trademark Case
Settlement cuts short opportunity for Ninth Circuit to consider important trademark issue


9th Cir.: DMCA Safe Harbors May Require Careful – If Not Strict – Compliance
Court held jury could find AOL failed to implement policy against repeat infringers
Ellison v. Robertson and America Online Inc.

Cal. App.: Update: Court Affirms Narrow Sec. 230 Interpretation on Rehearing
Court held that defendants with knowledge of defamatory content not entitled to immunity
Barrett v. Rosenthal

Cal. App.: Summary Judgment for eBAY Under Sec. 230 Affirmed
Argument that defendant not covered because it does not offer Internet connection rejected
Grace v. eBAY, Inc.

Canada: Canadian Court Takes Jurisdiction in Internet Libel Case Against Washington Post
Raises prospect of plaintiffs commencing actions abroad to take advantage of lax libel laws
Bangoura v. The Washington Post


Canada: Non-Media Libel Case Cites Place of Publication for Jurisdiction
Ontario Superior Court will hear defamation claim against NY investment company
Trizec Properties, Inc. v. Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.

Canada: Canadian Developments in Seizure of Reporter’s Materials
Anti-terror law under Constitutional scrutiny; Ontario court applies reporter’s privilege

U.K.: Don King’s Libel Suit Against NY Lawyer Can Go Forward in London
Jurisdiction based on King’s general notoriety and internet “publication” in England
Don King v. Lenox Lewis, Lion Promotions and Judd Bernstein

Canada: Alberta Court Awards Damages in Stock Chat Room Libel Case
Trial court awards $75,000 to company over series of e-mails
Vaquero Energy Ltd. v. Weir

U.K.: Wall Street Journal Wins Harrods Libel Case
Jury returns verdict in favor of Journal in case over article likening Harrods to Enron
Harrods Ltd. v. Dow Jones & Co.

Europe: Right of Reply in Europe – A Bold Resolution or a Resolution Re-bowled
Council of Europe is finalizing a draft recommendation that covers online publications

ECHR: Austrian Journalist Wins Appeal to ECHR over Defamation Conviction
Court rules journalist’s description of politician as a “closet Nazi” was protected opinion
Scharsach v. Austria


10th Cir.: 10th Circuit Upholds Do-Not-Call Registry
Court holds that registry is a valid commercial speech restriction
Mainstream Marketing Systems, Inc. v. FTC

D. Md.: UPDATE: Lawsuit Testing Limits of SEC’s Power Over Publishers Continues
District court denies motion to dismiss lawsuit against financial/investment publisher
SEC v. Agora, Inc., et al.

D. Neb.: Malicious Prosecution Claim Against Newspaper Publisher Survives Summary Judgment
Court found that the publisher misled prosecutors
Lynch v. Omaha World-Herald

S.D. Fla.: Criminal Statute Prohibiting Disclosure of Complaints about Police Held Constitutional
Court rules against newspaper editor arrested for publishing report on police misconduct
Cooper v. Dillon

FCC: FCC Fines News Station & Radio Broadcaster for Indecency
Regulators slam broadcasters with cumulative penalty; Congress looks to increase fines
Clear Channel Broadcasting Licenses, Inc; Young Broadcasting of San Francisco, Inc.