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November 2011

MediaLawLetter October 2011

in this issue

Voice-Mail Hacking in the United States: Illegal but Not Usually a Federal Felony

By Michael A. Norwick In the wake of the shocking News Corporation voice-mail hacking scandal in the United Kingdom, and the arrests in London of reporterss and editors accused of illegally intercepting voice-mail messages, there has been increasing interest in the landscape of U.S. law that criminalizes such conduct in the States.  Although there have…


Idaho Media Win Access to Dead Public Official’s Personnel File

Cooperation Between Adversaries, the Judiciary, and the Media By Charles A. Brown In a case of first impression, an Idaho court held that the public’s right to know justified disclosure of a dead public official’s personnel file.   Regents of the University of Idaho v. TPC Holdings, Inc., et al., CV-2011-916 (Idaho Dist., October 7, 2011). …


Victory for The Florida Times-Union Protects Journalist’s Privilege

By Jennifer Kifer A Florida Circuit Court entered a decision quashing a subpoena issued by the State Attorney to The Florida Times-Union (Times-Union) on the basis of the qualified journalist’s privilege. Florida v. Susana, No. 201 l-CF-003624 (Fla. Cir. Duval Cty. Sept. 27, 2011) (Senterfitt, J.). Background The subpoena sought the production of a letter…

Copyright Suit Against Producers of Percy Jackson Movie Dismissed

Plaintiff’s Works Not Substantially Similar to Popular Book Series and Movie An author’s suit for copyright infringement against International Television Company, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, and Dune Entertainment for the popular book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, as well as its film adaption, was recently dismissed.  DiTocco v. Riordan et al., 1:10-cv-04186 (S.D. N.Y….


Dutch Gangster Asks for Injunction Against Movie on Kidnapping of Tycoon Alfred Heineken

By Jens van den Brink & Emiel Jurjens On Oct. 28, 2011, the Court of First Instance in Amsterdam delivered its full judgment in the case of Willem Holleeder v. IDTV. The judgment contains important guidelines for makers of historical movies (or other works of art) that mix fact and fiction. The court also confirms…


Another Adwords Judgment from the European Court of Justice

By Rogier Overbeek On 22 September 2011, the European Court of Justice once again rendered a judgment about the use of Google AdWords consisting of a competitor’s trademark. Interfora v. Marks & Spencer. The Facts This case concerns proceedings between Interflora, a flower delivery network and proprietor of the well-known INTERFLORA trademark, and the British…


Delayed Libel Claim Struck Out as Abuse of Process

By Niri Shan and Mark Dennis Can a UK libel claim be struck out because of delays by the Claimant in moving the action forward?  Yes, according to the High Court in the recent decision in Adelson v.  Anderson [2011] EWHC 2497 (QB). This judgment gives a useful insight into the circumstances in which the…


Daily Mirror Wins Privacy Trial Over “Kiss ‘n’ Tell” Article about Footballer

Public Interest in Article about Team Captain’s Private Life By Keith Mathieson Max Clifford is Britain’s best-known publicist.  His particular speciality is the “kiss ‘n’ tell” story, whereby women who have dated celebrities sell their stories to tabloid newspapers.  Mr. Clifford is usually the middle-man for these stories, for which he charges a commission of…


Financial Newsletter Not Liable for Investor’s Losses

By Thomas J. Williams The author of a financial newsletter cannot be liable under the Texas Securities Act to an investor who claimed to have lost money in the market based on the author’s advice, a Texas appeals court held this month in a long-running dispute between a newsletter’s author and one of its subscribers….

Seventh Circuit Panel Hears Arguments in ACLU v. Alvarez

Judge Posner Concerned With “Snooping” by Reporters and Bloggers By Mickey H. Osterreicher On September 13, 2011 a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit heard oral argument  in  ACLU v Alvarez, during which the well-respected jurist, Richard A. Posner, pointedly and often antagonistically questioned the appellants’ attorney. This appeal of a lower…


Section 230 Protects Financial News Website

Not Liable for Selecting Third Party Articles for Publication A New York trial court dismissed a libel claim against a financial news website, holding that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunized it for third-party created content.  Deer Consumer Products v. Little, No. 650823/2011, 2011 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4397 (N.Y. Sup. Aug. 31, 2011)…

California Appeals Court Affirms Judgment for Korean Broadcaster

Allegation That School Is “Degree Factory” Protected Opinion In a decision certified for publication, a California appellate court affirmed judgment in favor a Korean broadcaster sued for libel by a Los Angeles-based university. Yuin University v. Korean Broadcasting System, B226977 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Oct. 5, 2011) (Hiroshige, Rubin, Flier, JJ.). The Korean language broadcast…


Directed Verdict for Daily Nebraskan in Public Figure Libel Trial

Former University Regent Sued Over Editorial in Student Newspaper Following a day of trial, a Nebraska County Court entered a directed verdict in favor of the Daily Nebraskan, the independent student newspaper at Nebraska University, in a libel suit filed by a former university regent.   Prokop v. The Daily Nebraskan, No. 07-4401 (Lancaster Cty. Verdict…

Florida Appeals Court Affirms JNOV Throwing Out $10.1 Million Libel Award

Trial Court Found “Insufficient Proof” to Sustain Judgment for Public Official Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal this month affirmed without opinion a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of the St. Petersburg Times newspaper in a public official libel suit.  Kennedy v. Times Publ. Co., No. 2D10-3136 (Fla. App. Oct. 19, 2011) (per curiam)….

Virgin Islands Supreme Court Issues Its First Opinion Addressing Defamation Law

Affirms Directed Verdict In Favor Of Newspaper By Michael Berry On September 21, 2011, the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands affirmed a trial court’s directed verdict in favor of a local newspaper in a libel suit brought by a former judge.  See Kendall v. Daily News Publ’g Co., 2011 WL 4434922 (V.I. Sept. 21,…


MediaLawLetter October 2011

 Download Publication LIBEL AND PRIVACY Virgin Islands Supreme Court Issues Its First Opinion Addressing Defamation LawAffirms Directed Verdict In Favor Of NewspaperKendall v. Daily News Publ’g Co. Florida Appeals Court Affirms JNOV Throwing Out $10.1 Million Libel AwardTrial Court Found “Insufficient Proof” to Sustain Judgment for Public OfficialKennedy v. Times Publ. Co. Neb. Dist.: Directed…