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January 2007

MediaLawLetter February 2007


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Bulletin: MLRC Bulletin Analyzes Media Trials of 2006
9 Wins, 5 Losses at Trial; But Damage Awards Relatively High

Ethics: Should Judges Decide Motions to Recuse Themselves?
Michigan Court Rules Presume Judges Can be Trusted to Admit their own Bias


Tex. Dist. Ct.: Jury Rules Against Plaintiffs in Texas Wiretap Case
Plaintiffs had no Reasonable Expectation of Privacy in Open Air Courtyard at CLE
Stephens v. Dolcefino, et al.


E.D.Va.: New York Times Awarded Summary Judgment in Lawsuit Over Anthrax Columns
Plaintiff a Public Figure, No Actual Malice, Discrete Statements Substantially True
Hatfill v. The New York Times Co.

Cal.: California Supreme Court Strikes Bulk of Claims Against Researchers
But Claim Over Alleged Misrepresentation to Obtain Interview Survives
Taus v. Loftus

Cal. App.: Reality Slapped
Denial of Anti-SLAPP Motion Affirmed in Defamation Action Involving Motion Picture “Reality Bites”
Dyer v. Childress

7th Cir.: 7th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Paramount Pictures in “Hardball” Litigation
Innocent Construction Rule and Protection of Artistic Works outweigh Plaintiff’s Claims
Muzikowski v. Paramount Pictures Corp.

6th Cir.: Bomber’s Brother Strikes Out as Michael Moore Rolls Perfect Game in “Columbine” Win
Allegedly Defamatory Statements were Substantially True
Nichols v. Moore

N.D. Tex.: Libel and Misappropriation Claims Over The Daily Show Parody Dismissed
Challenged Segment not Defamatory as a Matter of Law
Busch v. Viacom

7th Cir.: Court Declines to Recognize Expert Witness Exception to Judicial Proceedings Privilege
Court Wary of “Throwing Open the Door to Defamation Suits Against Expert Witnesses”
MacGregor v. Rutberg

W.D. Tex.: MySpace Wins Dismissal in “Sexual Predator” Suit
Social Networking Site Granted Immunity under Section 230 of CDA
Doe v. MySpace

1st Cir.: Court Applies Section 230 to Dismiss Claims Against Lycos
Adopts Prevailing Standard to Grant Immunity in Suit Over Third Party Postings
Universal Communications Systems, Inc. v. Lycos, Inc.

E.D. Mich.: Michigan Federal Court Dismisses Libel Claims Against Microsoft
Section 230 Bars Claims Over Message Board Postings
Eckert v. Microsoft Corp.

Ariz.: Arizona Applies Doe v. Cahill Standard to Anonymous Internet Speakers
Super. Ct. Subpoena Quashed Where Plaintiff Could not Meet Summary Judgment Standard
McMann v. Doe

Cal. App.: Website Complaining About Plastic Surgeon Protected by Anti-SLAPP Statute
“Before and After” Photos and Complaints not Actionable
Gilbert v. Sykes

N.J.: N.J. Court Dismisses Political Group’s Libel Complaint
Super. Ct. Public Figure Plaintiffs Could not Prove Actual Malice
Bardinas v. Delaney


Ohio C.P.: Agreement in Murder Trial Protects Reporter’s Jailhouse Interview Notes
Court had Denied Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum; State Shield Law Inapplicable
State v. Carroll


U.S.: Supreme Court Strengthens Constitutional Protections Against Arbitrary & Excessive Punitive Damage Awards
Philip Morris USA v. Williams


U.K.: The Other Side of the Pond
UK and European Law Update

Germany: German Constitutional Court Rules Newsroom Search Illegal
Search during Leak Investigation Violated Magazine’s Free Press Rights


Pa. Sup. Ct.: Newspaper Wins Access to Sentencing Letters
Letters Submitted to Sentencing Judge for Consideration are ‘Public Judicial Documents’
Pennsylvania v. Martinez

N.D. Ohio: Mayor of Toledo Permanently Enjoined from Denying Broadcaster Access to Press Conferences
Court Rules in favor of “More Sunshine” and “ a Better Informed Public”
Citicasters Co. v. Finkbeiner