On July 21, 2008, the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia overturned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s imposition of a record-setting fine against CBS Corp. for its broadcast of the infamous 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show “wardrobe malfunction.”
The U.S. Senate passed a bill May 15, 2008 that would overturn rules adopted in December 2007 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to loosen media cross-ownership restrictions.
The child pornography trial of R&B star R. Kelly drew media attention not just for its high profile subject and the salacious nature of the charges, but because it involved issues that are high on the list of media law concerns: trial secrecy and the subpoena of a journalist.
A British freelance journalist’s fight to prevent police from seizing his notes about a terrorism suspect ended when the High Court ordered him to hand over copies of his notes, audio tapes, and computer records on June 26.
On July 17, 2008, a Pennsylvania judge threw out subpoenas issued to 15 journalists summoned to testify at a closed hearing to investigate alleged leaks in the grand jury probe of a casino owner.
Hawaii’s governor signed a bill into law on July 2, 2008 that prevents government officials from forcing journalists to divulge anonymous sources except under certain circumstances.
A settlement in Steven Hatfill’s Privacy Act suit against the government means former USA Today reporter Toni Locy may no longer be subject to a civil contempt order that included fines of up to $5,000 per day.
A federal judge who had subpoenaed a Washington Times reporter as part of an investigation into a leak of grand jury testimony opted not to force him to reveal his confidential sources on July 24, 2008, but the reporter now faces a subpoena from a federal grand jury.
A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 12, 2008 that the government may not reject Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for federal agency documents on the ground that another party has already unsuccessfully sued for the same documents.
For the second time in two terms, a 5 to 4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, better known as the McCain-Feingold Act, because it violated the First Amendment.
In the lead-up to the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul, Minn. and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver, groups planning to demonstrate at the events were unsuccessful in their lawsuits challenging parade routes and public demonstration zones that they argued unfairly restricted their rights to be seen and heard.
No Decision Yet; 16 of 19 Committee Members Disfavor Cameras
The Minnesota Supreme Court heard arguments July 1, 2008 from an advisory committee and a number of proponents and detractors of a proposed change in the state’s rules that would make it possible for news media cameras to gain access to the state’s district courtrooms.
Claims of increasing media censorship in Russia have focused on the impromptu closing of a newspaper that often lampooned political leadership, the June 2008 “extremism” conviction of two journalists, and accusations of a television talk show “blacklist” – all of which were said to be politically motivated.
China Pressured to Lift Blocks on Media Center Internet Service
Journalists and free press advocates criticized organizers of the 2008 Beijing Olympics when it became apparent a few days before the games were set to begin that some Web sites were blocked on the Internet service provided to members of the media. Organizers later allowed better access.
Social Networking Web Site Sued over Sexual Assaults, Suicides
The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 16, 2008 that a federal law shielded the Web site MySpace from liability for the sexual assault of a Texas girl who met the man who assaulted her via the popular social networking site.
A May 5, 2008 ruling by Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California placed a permanent injunction on file sharing Web site TorrentSpy, and awarded the plaintiff motion picture studios statutory damages of $110,970,000 – or $30,000 each for 3,699 infringements – plus court costs.
The Associated Press’ (AP) most recent attempt to protect its news content from online copyright infringement created an uproar in the blogosphere.
Colleges and universities reported a surge in copyright infringement notices from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in spring 2008 amid increasing criticism of the association’s methods of attacking online piracy. Meanwhile, Congress reauthorized a law that will require colleges and universities to take action to prevent students from engaging in illegal file sharing and punish those who do.
Two California high school principals threatened their school newspapers after they disagreed with students’ editorial choices in spring 2008. Meanwhile, the California legislature passed a bill that would provide greater protection for journalism teachers, but budget issues stalled the bill at the Governor’s desk.
A federal appeals court ruled May 29, 2008 that school officials did not violate a Burlington, Conn. high school student’s First Amendment rights in denying her the position of class secretary after a she posted a personal blog entry calling school administrators “douchebags” and encouraging readers to voice their displeasure with them.(Continue Reading)10/14/09
New York Governor David Paterson signed a bill April 30, 2008 that grants statewide protection to writers and publishers convicted of libel in foreign courts.
Washington Post staff writer lost his job in April 2008 after he revealed he was also writing for an unrelated sports blog. Commentators have said the episode was the latest example of a growing problem facing mainstream media outlets regarding employee-published online content.(Continue Reading)10/14/09
On Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008, the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law will present a special Fall Forum addressing media cross-ownership featuring Rosemary Harold, Deputy Chief of the Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law has announced that it will welcome Silha Visiting Fellow Professor Robert Drechsel for the fall 2008 semester.
Who is a journalist? What is “responsible journalism?” How do media law and ethics intersect? Is self-regulation effective – or even possible – in the digital age? Siobhain Butterworth, readers’ editor for The Guardian in London, will consider these and other questions when she presents the 2008 Silha Lecture, “Raise Your Hand if You’re a Journalist: Does Responsible Reporting Need a Legal Defense?” on Oct. 6, 2008, at Cowles Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.