Archive for the ‘Media Law’ Category
posted by Gerard Magliocca
I am teaching Advanced Torts this semester. I’ve never taught this course before, though I have taught aspects of this class in other courses. One unit that I found especially interesting was defamation and libel, which is not a subject that I took in law school or encountered much afterwards. I was really struck by this passage in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., which limited the actual malice standard of New York Times v. Sullivan to public figures.
“Hypothetically, it may be possible for someone to become a public figure through no purposeful action of his own, but the instances of truly involuntary public figures must be exceedingly rare.”
This statement is highly questionable. There are lots of involuntary public figures today. Children of celebrities. Folks who are exposed to scrutiny on social media. And so on. Yet the Court used this premise (few involuntary public figures) to support the point that involuntary public figures should be treated like voluntary public figures (government officials or celebrities). Things are too well settled, I suppose, to challenge this rule, but its foundation seems weaker.
Comments? Send them to email@example.com
posted by Frank Pasquale
The stories we tell ourselves about inequality matter. As incomes of the top 0.1% and top 0.01% grow ever more stratospheric, “low wage workers are paid less now than they were from the 1950s-1970s.” Is this just, as Steve Schwartzman suggests, the natural consequence of globalization? Tim Harford suggested as much in the FT last week:
The uncomfortable truth is that market forces – that is, the result of freely agreed contracts – are probably behind much of the rise in inequality. Globalisation and technological change favour the highly skilled. . . . [A]t the very top, winner-take-all markets are emerging, where the best or luckiest entrepreneurs, fund managers, authors or athletes hoover up most of the gains.
The most important word in that paragraph is “luckiest.” What deserves comment is Harford’s argument that “freely agreed contracts” are deciding who is “hoovering up” the most. He elaborates a bit later:
Read the rest of this post »
posted by Cristina Tilley
Prentice Women’s Hospital is a landmark for me. Owned by Northwestern University, it stands directly across from the Northwestern Law complex, meaning that I passed it virtually every day as a law student and more recently as a VAP here at the school. So I’m keenly interested in the University’s plan to tear down the concrete, clover leaf-shaped structure and replace it with a state-of-the-art research facility. The debate over its fate also illustrated a trend towards advocacy in the mainstream media that raises some interesting legal questions.
The building is one of the foremost examples of late-Modernist architecture in the city, and activists pressed the Chicago Commission on Landmarks to give the building landmark status, thus preserving it from demolition. When, in the midst of the preservation effort last year, local alderman Brendan Reilly said he was “open to suggestions” to save the building, New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman stepped in. Kimmelman did not merely detail the architectural relevance of the building or express his support for preservation. Instead, he asked Chicago architecture’s It Girl, Jeanne Gang, whether it would be possible to build a research tower on top of the existing structure. She responded with drawings of a 31-story skyscraper perched on top of the clover leaf. Kimmelman wrote about Gang’s idea, running pictures of her concept in the paper. Again, though, he didn’t stop there. He contacted a field officer for the Chicago office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and asked whether her organization would support the idea. He contacted Northwestern to ask whether the university might sign on. And he called the president of an international structural engineering firm to get feedback on the structural and financial feasibility of the plan. Somewhere along the way, Kimmelman stopped looking like a reporter, or even a critic, and started looking more like one of the activists trying to save the building.
Putting aside the admirable intentions that obviously drove Kimmelman, his efforts illustrate the increasingly porous boundary between reporting and advocacy, even in the mainstream media. Of course, partisanship and muckraking in journalism are not new. But as journalism migrates onto our phones and screens alongside Instagram and Facebook, and as “dying” newspapers and network news broadcasts venture beyond traditional reporting techniques to chase eyeballs and engagement, it grows increasingly difficult to categorize what exactly we are consuming when we consume the news. Why do these questions, obvious fodder for media ethicists, matter to lawyers? For two reasons, one specific and one general.
posted by Cristina Tilley
Google Glass has been a mere gleam in the eye of tech savants for the past several months, but the company began distributing the wearable internet device to a hand-picked group of “Explorers” in June. A fascinating pair of articles from the New York Times Bits columnist, Nick Bilton, recently highlighted the tensions between speech and privacy that are likely to play out as the device is integrated into everyday use. The articles compared Glass to Kodak cameras, which were controversial when introduced in the late 1800s but ultimately accepted after Americans figured out how and when the cameras should be used. It’s not clear, however, that the Glass experience will duplicate the Kodak pattern. Kodaks came on the market when tort law could respond nimbly to camera invasions of privacy, while Glass is debuting in a world where tort law is increasingly subject to constitutional constraints.
Bilton teed up the Glass privacy issue nicely in May, when he described his visit to the Google I/O developers’ conference. There, hundreds of attendees were sporting the eyeglass-mounted computers, which can take a snapshot or video with a wink of the wearer’s eye. Bilton — a self-professed tech nerd — reported being rattled by the swarms of Glass wearers; after trying to “duck [his] head and move out of the way” of the wearable cameras, he retreated to the men’s room, only to find the urinals on either side of him occupied by Glass wearers. “My world,” he wrote, “came screeching to a halt.” In an article appearing a week later, however, Bilton appeared to have calmed down. He had interviewed CUNY journalism professor Jeff Jarvis, who predicted that unwilling stars in Glass pictures and videos would eventually realize that being recorded is simply a hazard of appearing in public. Jarvis likened the anti-Glass complaints to the furor that erupted when Kodak cameras were introduced in the 1890s. So-called Kodak fiends, who trained their lenses primarily on uncooperative females, initially encountered threats and violence. Ultimately, Jarvis said, amateur photographers began to behave better and society accepted cameras as a new feature of daily life.
But Bilton and Jarvis may have overlooked a crucial difference between the legal environment when pocket cameras were introduced and the legal environment today. Tort law was instrumental in developing norms about acceptable camera use in the early Twentieth Century. The Kodak fiends did not become more respectful overnight, and Americans did not become easily inured to having their pictures taken by strangers. Instead, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis protested the abuse of cameras in what has been called the most famous law review article ever published, The Right to Privacy. That piece advocated the creation of a new tort that would give victims of stealth photography (and other dubious news practices) a legal remedy against their aggressors. State courts began recognizing privacy torts in 1905 and by 1960 they were a standard part of the tort toolbox. In short, tort law established a background scheme of legal liability for the abuse of camera technology, and social norms about acceptable camera use followed.
July 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm Posted in: Constitutional Law, Culture, Current Events, First Amendment, Google & Search Engines, Media Law, Privacy (Gossip & Shaming), Tort Law, Uncategorized Print This Post No Comments
posted by Cristina Tilley
When Congress passed the SPEECH Act two years ago, its primary goal was to protect speakers from hefty defamation verdicts rendered by libel havens, countries whose laws are less speech-protective than those in the United States. The statute essentially prohibits U.S. courts from enforcing foreign defamation judgments unless the applicable law provides speech protections comparable to those in the U.S., or the same judgment would have resulted under U.S. law. One recent case suggests that the SPEECH Act may inadvertently be splitting the defamation atom in two, allowing plaintiffs to rehabilitate their reputations while simultaneously shielding defendants from monetary loss. This phenomenon may sound familiar to Conflicts aficionados, as it seems to replicate the creation of so-called divisible divorce in the 1940s.
A case now on appeal in the Fifth Circuit, involving New Orleans corruption, Canadian libel law, and the same-sex proprietors of a Nova Scotia fishing resort, illustrates what may become the norm when electronic speech spans national borders.
In a 2010 story about alleged political corruption in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that a parish official co-owned a vacation resort in Nova Scotia. The paper later retracted the statement and stopped hosting a blog that had also discussed the connection between the disgraced official and the Nova Scotia couple that ran the resort. The blogger found a new host and continued to post allegations that the couple was laundering proceeds of the New Orleans corruption, along with embarrassing photoshopped images of the two and several homophobic slurs against them. The couple sued the blogger in Canada for defamation (and several other torts). The blogger did not appear, the allegations in the complaint were taken as true, and the court awarded the men $425,000. The men sought to enforce the judgment in Mississippi state court, the case was removed to the local federal district court, and the court refused to enforce the judgment, citing the SPEECH Act. The federal court concluded that its Canadian counterpart did not specifically find that the blogger’s statements were false, as required under U.S. law. Therefore, the Canadian court provided less speech protection than a U.S. court would have, and the judgment could not be enforced.
The result may have been an unintentionally ideal compromise. Together the U.S. and Canadian courts essentially credited the moral victory to the ostensibly defamed lodge owners and the financial victory to the blogger. While this might not be a palatable outcome for most torts, there is some research suggesting that defamation plaintiffs, in particular, are as concerned with public acknowledgment that they have been falsely impugned as they are with collecting money. In fact, the Nova Scotia plaintiffs were reported to have said “this was never about the money,” echoing Frederick Pollock’s famous observation that “the law went wrong from the start in making the damage and not the insult the cause of the action.” Further, while speech has grown increasingly global, libel law remains stubbornly divided between defendant-protective doctrines in the U.S. and more plaintiff-friendly doctrines elsewhere. So it may be time for a mechanism that strikes something of a balance.
In fact, it is not uncommon that recognition and enforcement principles are deployed to accommodate cultural or generational divides reflected in conflicting laws. In the 1940s, the Supreme Court held in a series of cases that states had to recognize quickie divorces awarded by sister states that had welcomed fleeing spouses, even when the absent spouse was clinging to the marriage. Several years later, however, the Court held that while sister states had to honor adjudications of marital status, they did not have to honor out-of-state judgments purporting to dictate the financial status of the absent spouse. Thus was born the “divisible divorce,” with one state handling the status adjudication and another handling the financial adjudication. Perhaps the SPEECH Act has established divisible defamation for the age of global speech.
posted by William McGeveran
In the hubbub surrounding this week’s acquisition of the blogging platform Tumblr by born-again internet hub Yahoo!, I thought one of the most interesting observations concerned the regulation of pornography. It led, by a winding path, to a topic near and dear to the Concurring Opinions gang: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which generally immunizes online intermediaries from liability for the contents of user-generated content. (Just a few examples of many ConOp discussions of Section 230: this old post by Dan Solove and a January 2013 series of posts by Danielle Citron on Section 230 and revenge porn here, here, and here.)
Apparently Tumblr has a very large amount of NSFW material compared to other sites with user-generated content. By one estimate, over 11% of the site’s 200,000 most popular blogs are “adult.” By my math that’s well over 20,000 of the site’s power users.
Predictably, much of the ensuing discussion focused on the implications of all that smut for business and branding. But Peter Kafka explains on All Things D that the structure of Tumblr prevents advertisements for family-friendly brands from showing up next to pornographic content. His reassuring tone almost let you hear the “whew” from Yahoo! investors (as if harm to brands is the only relevant consideration about porn — which, for many tech journalists and entrepreneurs, it is).
There is another potential porn problem besides bad PR, and it is legal. Lux Alptraum, writing in Fast Company, addressed it. (The author is, according to her bio, “a writer, sex educator, and CEO of Fleshbot, the web’s foremost blog about sexuality and adult entertainment.”) She somewhat conflates two different issues — understandably, since they are related — but that’s part of what I think is interesting. A lot of that user-posted porn is violating copyright law, or regulations meant to protect minors from exploitation, or both. To what extent might Tumblr be on the hook for those violations?
posted by Stanford Law Review
The Stanford Law Review Online has just published a Note by Will Havemann entitled Privilege and the Belfast Project. Havemann argues that a recent First Circuit opinion goes too far and threatens the idea of academic privilege:
In 2001, two Irish scholars living in the United States set out to compile the recollections of men and women involved in the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland. The result was the Belfast Project, an oral history project housed at Boston College that collected interviews from many who were personally involved in the violent Northern Irish “Troubles.” To induce participants to document their memories for posterity, Belfast Project historians promised all those interviewed that the contents of their testimonials would remain confidential until they died. More than a decade later, this promise of confidentiality is at the heart of a legal dispute implicating the United States’ bilateral legal assistance treaty with the United Kingdom, the so-called academic’s privilege, and the First Amendment.
Given the confusion sown by Branzburg’s fractured opinion, the First Circuit’s hardnosed decision is unsurprising. But by disavowing the balancing approach recommended in Justice Powell’s concurring Branzburg opinion, and by overlooking the considerable interests supporting the Belfast Project’s confidentiality guarantee, the First Circuit erred both as a matter of precedent and of policy. At least one Supreme Court Justice has signaled a willingness to correct the mischief done by the First Circuit, and to clarify an area of First Amendment law where the Court’s guidance is sorely needed. The rest of the Court should take note.
December 5, 2012 at 10:45 am Tags: academic privilege, academy, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, First Amendment, international law, privilege, treaties Posted in: Anonymity, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Current Events, First Amendment, International & Comparative Law, Law Rev (Stanford), Media Law Print This Post 15 Comments
posted by Dave Hoffman
Our platonic media guardians worry about the increasingly common practice of giving sources “quote approval”. At the NYT’s public editor explains,
“Some parts of the practice, I believe, do fall into a black-and-white realm. The idea that a reporter must send a written version of a quotation to a source or his press representation for approval or tweaking is the extreme version of the “quote approval” practice and it ought to be banned in a written rule.”
This is nonsense. There’s a simple reason that most sources (including me) ask for quote approval: we don’t trust reporters to avoid making a hash out of our comments, pulling quotes selectively to fit a pre-existing narrative, and consequently turning the source into the reporter’s sock puppet. It’s a no brainer that anyone who has to regularly deal with the press should try to get quote approval. You’ll succeed with some reporters – generally the better ones, in my experience. If you fail to get quote approval, you should remember to think three times before saying anything, including your name.
Why? Well, most reporters who call me have a particular thing they’d like me to say. Sometimes they’ve told me what that thing is: I can then proceed to either say it or not. Other times they ask a ton of questions, but it’s quite obvious that it’s all just filler time until I can manage to produce the right words in response to the right stimuli. (Foolishly, when I began my career, I foolishly thought that these conversations were a preface to the real question that they were going to ask!) Often reporters will pastiche quotes from different parts of the interview to create a comment which bears no relationship to what you think. Basically: reporters aren’t writing the first draft of an objective narrative (“history”): they have already written that narrative, and your role is to be the footnotes locking it all down. Don’t be a sucker. Ensure that your name is attached to things you actually think.
posted by Madhavi Sunder
Another day brings another cornucopia of exciting and important comments on my book, From Goods to a Good Life: Intellectual Property and Global Justice. I thank Professors Molly Van Houweling, Jessica Silbey, Michael Madison, and Mark McKenna, and earlier Concurring Opinions commentators —Professors Deven Desai, Lea Shaver, Laura DeNardis, Zahr Said, and Brett Frischmann—for reading my book so carefully, and engaging it so helpfully. I focus here on Professor Van Houweling’s framing of an important issue arising in the discussion.
Professor Van Houweling has provoked stimulating discussion with her astute observation of two competing visions of intellectual property within the emergent “capabilities approach” school of intellectual property we identified earlier this week. Professor Van Houweling contrasts Professor Julie Cohen’s alternative justification of copyright as a tool for promoting corporate welfare (sustaining creative industries), with my attention to intellectual property laws as tools for promoting livelihood and human welfare (sustaining human beings in their quest for a good life).
September 14, 2012 at 1:15 am Posted in: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Culture, Cyber Civil Rights, Education, Feminism and Gender, First Amendment, Jurisprudence, Law and Humanities, Law and Inequality, Media Law, Race, Symposium (From Goods to a Good Life), Technology, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 Print This Post One Comment
posted by David Orentlicher
In FCC v. Fox, the Supreme Court once again took a pass on the first amendment questions raised by the regulation of indecent images or speech on broadcast television. It is a good thing that the justices want to take their time to get it right on the constitutional issues, but ten years have passed since the case was first triggered by Cher’s use of the F-word at the Billboard Music Awards. And the Court’s decision today suggests it hopes the matter will just go away. As Justice Kennedy concluded for the majority, “this opinion leaves the [FCC] free to modify its current indecency policy.”
The Court’s discomfort with indecency is not surprising. The justices’ discomfort reflects that of much of society. Indeed, they could not bring themselves to actually say the F-word at oral argument.
But once again, it leaves us to wonder why our society seems to worry more about exposing children to even brief uses of profanity or depictions of nudity than it does about exposing kids to prolonged violence. The FCC does not restrict violence the way it does indecency on television, movie ratings are tougher on indecency than on violence, and the Court has a lower threshold for government regulation of violence than of indecency. Recall, for example, that last year, the Court invoked the first amendment to override California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors, and two years ago, the Court rejected on first amendment grounds a federal statute that outlawed “crush” videos depicting the torture and killing of animals.
It may be correct to be as careful as we are about the harms to children from the media’s use of nudity and vulgar language. But we also should take more seriously the harm from the media’s depictions of violence.
posted by Brett Frischmann
I am incredibly grateful to Danielle, Deven, and Frank for putting this symposium together, to Concurring Opinions for hosting, and to all of the participants for their time and engagement. It is an incredible honor to have my book discussed by such an esteemed group of experts.
Shared infrastructures shape our lives, our relationships with each other, the opportunities we enjoy, and the environment we share. Think for a moment about the basic supporting infrastructures that you rely on daily. Some obvious examples are roads, the Internet, water systems, and the electric power grid, to name just a few. In fact, there are many less obvious examples, such as our shared languages, legal institutions, ideas, and even the atmosphere. We depend heavily on shared infrastructures, yet it is difficult to appreciate how much these resources contribute to our lives because infrastructures are complex and the benefits provided are typically indirect.
The book devotes much-needed attention to understanding how society benefits from infrastructure resources and how management decisions affect a wide variety of private and public interests. It links infrastructure, a particular set of resources defined in terms of the manner in which they create value, with commons, a resource management principle by which a resource is shared within a community.
Infrastructure commons are ubiquitous and essential to our social and economic systems. Yet we take them for granted, and frankly, we are paying the price for our lack of vision and understanding. Our shared infrastructures—the lifeblood of our economy and modern society—are crumbling. We need a more systematic, long-term vision that better accounts for how infrastructure commons contribute to social welfare.
In this book, I try to provide such a vision. The first half of the book is general and not focused on any particular infrastructure resource. It cuts across different resource systems and develops a framework for understanding societal demand for infrastructure resources and the advantages and disadvantages of commons management (by which I mean, managing the infrastructure resource in manner that does not discriminate based on the identity of the user or use). The second half of the book applies the theoretical framework to different types of infrastructure—e.g., transportation, communications, environmental, and intellectual resources—and examines different institutional regimes that implement commons management. It then wades deeply into the contentious “network neutrality” debate and ends with a brief discussion of some other modern debates.
Throughout, I raise a host of ideas and arguments that probably deserve/require more sustained attention, but at 436 pages, I had to exercise some restraint, right? Many of the book’s ideas and arguments are bound to be controversial, and I hope some will inspire others. I look forward to your comments, criticisms, and questions.
April 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm Posted in: Administrative Law, Antitrust, Bright Ideas, Cyberlaw, Economic Analysis of Law, First Amendment, Google & Search Engines, Infrastructure Symposium, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Legal Theory, Media Law, Property Law, Technology, Uncategorized Print This Post No Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
If you Google “Santorum,” you’ll find that two of the top three search results take an unusual angle on the Republican candidate, thanks to sex columnist Dan Savage. (I very nearly used “Santorum” as a Google example in class last semester, and only just thought better of it.) Santorum’s supporters want Google to push the, er, less conventional site further down the rankings, and allege that Google’s failure to do so is political biased. That claim is obviously a load of Santorum, but the situation has drawn more thoughtful responses. Danny Sullivan argues that Google should implement a disclaimer, because kids may search on “Santorum” and be disturbed by what they find, or because they may think Google has a political agenda. (The site has one for “jew,” for example. For a long time, the first result for that search term was to the odious and anti-Semitic JewWatch site.)
This suggestion is well-intentioned but flatly wrong. I’m not an absolutist: I like how Google handled the problem of having a bunch of skinheads show up as a top result for “jew.” But I don’t want Google as the Web police, though many disagree. Should the site implement a disclaimer if you search for “Tommy Lee Pamela Anderson”? (Warning: sex tape.) If you search for “flat earth theory,” should Google tell you that you are potentially a moron? I don’t think so. Disclaimers should be the nuclear option for Google – partly so they continue to attract attention, and partly because they move Google from a primarily passive role as filter to a more active one as commentator. I generally like my Web results without knowing what Google thinks about them.
Evgeny Morozov has made a similar suggestion, though along different lines: he wants Google to put up a banner or signal when someone searches for links between vaccines and autism, or proof that the Pentagon / Israelis / Santa Claus was behind the 9/11 attacks. I’m more sympathetic to Evgeny’s idea, but I would limit banners or disclaimers to situations that meet two criteria. First, the facts of the issue must be clear-cut: pi is not equal to three (and no one really thinks so), and the planet is indisputably getting warmer. And second, the issue must be one that is both currently relevant and with significant consequences. The flat earthers don’t count; the anti-vaccine nuts do. (People who fail to immunize their children not only put them at risk; they put their classmates and friends at risk, too.) Lastly, I think there’s importance to having both a sense of humor and a respect for discordant, even false speech. The Santorum thing is darn funny. And, in the political realm, we have a laudable history of tolerating false or inflammatory speech, because we know the perils of censorship. So, keeping spreading Santorum!
Danielle, Frank, and the other CoOp folks have kindly let me hang around their blog like a slovenly houseguest, and I’d like to thank them for it. See you soon!
Cross-posted at Info/Law.
February 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm Posted in: Advertising, Architecture, Bright Ideas, Culture, Current Events, Cyberlaw, Education, First Amendment, Google and Search Engines, Humor, Innovation, Just for Fun, Law Talk, Media Law, Politics, Psychology and Behavior, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post 7 Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
Lifehacker‘s Adam Dachis has a great article on how users can deal with a world in which they infringe copyright constantly, both deliberately and inadvertently. (Disclaimer alert: I talked with Adam about the piece.) It’s a practical guide to a strict liability regime – no intent / knowledge requirement for direct infringement – that operates not as a coherent body of law, but as a series of reified bargains among stakeholders. And props to Adam for the Downfall reference! I couldn’t get by without the mockery of the iPhone or SOPA that it makes possible…
Cross-posted to Info/Law.
February 27, 2012 at 2:14 pm Posted in: Anonymity, Architecture, Culture, Current Events, Cyberlaw, DRM, Education, Google and Search Engines, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Interviews, Media Law, Movies & Television, Politics, Social Network Websites, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post 3 Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
Ever-brilliant Web comic The Oatmeal has a great piece about piracy and its alternatives. (The language at the end is a bit much, but it is the character’s evil Jiminy Cricket talking.) It mirrors my opinion about Major League Baseball’s unwillingness to offer any Internet access to the postseason, which is hard on those of us who don’t own TVs (or subscribe to cable). Even if you don’t agree with my moral claims, it’s obvious that as the price of lawful access diverges from the price of unlawful access (which is either zero, or the expected present value of a copyright suit, which is darn near zero), infringement goes up.
So, if you want to see Game of Thrones (and I do), your options are: subscribe to cable plus HBO, or pirate. I think the series rocks, but I’m not paying $100 a month for it. If HBO expects me to do so, it weakens their moral claim against piracy.
Unconvinced? Imagine instead that HBO offers to let you watch Game of Thrones for free – but the only place on Earth you can view the series is in the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. You’re located in rural Iowa? Well, you’ve no cause for complaint! Fly to LA! I suspect that translating costs into physical costs makes the argument clearer: HBO charges not only for the content, but bundles it with one particular delivery medium. If that medium is unavailable to you, or unaffordable, you’re out of luck.
Unless, of course, you have broadband, and can BitTorrent.
As a minimum, I plan not to support any SOPA-like legislation until the content industries begin to offer viable Internet-based delivery mechanisms that at least begin to compete with piracy…
Cross-posted at Info/Law.
February 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm Posted in: Architecture, Culture, Current Events, Cyber Civil Rights, Cyberlaw, DRM, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Legal Ethics, Media Law, Movies & Television, Politics, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post 55 Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
(This post is based on a talk I gave at the Seton Hall Legislative Journal’s symposium on Bullying and the Social Media Generation. Many thanks to Frank Pasquale, Marisa Hourdajian, and Michelle Newton for the invitation, and to Jane Yakowitz and Will Creeley for a great discussion!)
New Jersey enacted the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (ABBR) in 2011, in part as a response to the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi at Rutgers University. It is routinely lauded as the country’s broadest, most inclusive, and strongest anti-bullying law. That is not entirely a compliment. In this post, I make two core claims. First, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights has several aspects that are problematic from a First Amendment perspective – in particular, the overbreadth of its definition of prohibited conduct, the enforcement discretion afforded school personnel, and the risk of impingement upon religious and political freedoms. I argue that the legislation departs from established precedent on disruptions of the educational environment by regulating horizontal relations between students rather than vertical relations between students and the school as an institution / environment. Second, I believe we should be cautious about statutory regimes that enable government actors to sanction speech based on content. I suggest that it is difficult to distinguish, on a principled basis, between bullying (which is bad) and social sanctions that enforce norms (which are good). Moreover, anti-bullying laws risk displacing effective informal measures that emerge from peer production. Read the rest of this post »
February 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm Posted in: Anonymity, Blogging, Bright Ideas, Civil Rights, Conferences, Constitutional Law, Culture, Current Events, Cyber Civil Rights, Cyberlaw, Education, First Amendment, Media Law, Politics, Privacy (Gossip & Shaming), Psychology and Behavior, Race, Religion, Social Network Websites, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post 3 Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
The American Bar Association is kicking off its 2012 tech show with an address by… Ben Stein. Yes, who better to celebrate the march of technological progress and innovation than a leading defender of intelligent design? Who better to celebrate rigorous intellectual discourse than a man who misquotes Darwin and fakes speeches to college audiences?
This is a pretty embarrassing misstep. The ABA is irrelevant in the IP / tech world, and this facepalm is a nice microcosm of why. (Wait, what is the ABA relevant to? Now that’s a hard question.) We geeks don’t like it when you dis science. Thanks anyway, ABA – maybe you should stick to having your judicial recommendations ignored.
Hat tip: health law expert Margo Kaplan.
Update: I found the perfect keynote speaker for ABA’s 2013 TechShow: Marshall Hall!
Cross-posted at Info/Law.
February 20, 2012 at 11:27 am Posted in: Blogging, Bright Ideas, Conferences, Culture, Current Events, Cyberlaw, Education, Humor, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Media Law, Movies & Television, Politics, Science Fiction, Technology Print This Post 8 Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
On RocketLawyer’s Legally Easy podcast, I talk with Charley Moore and Eva Arevuo about the EU’s proposed “right to be forgotten” and privacy as censorship. I was inspired by Jeff Rosen and Jane Yakowitz‘s critiques of the approach, which actually appears to be a “right to lie effectively.” If you can disappear unflattering – and truthful – information, it lets you deceive others – in other words, you benefit and they are harmed. The EU’s approach is a blunderbuss where a scalpel is needed.
Cross-posted at Info/Law.
February 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm Posted in: Anonymity, Architecture, Civil Rights, Consumer Protection Law, Culture, Current Events, Cyber Civil Rights, Cyberlaw, First Amendment, Google and Search Engines, Innovation, Media Law, Political Economy, Politics, Privacy, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post No Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
The RIAA’s Cary Sherman had a screed about the Stop Online Piracy and PROTECT IP Acts in the New York Times recently. Techdirt’s Mike Masnick brilliantly gutted it, and I’m not going to pile on – a tour de force requires no augmentation. What I want to suggest is that the recording industry – or, at least, its trade group – is dangerously out of touch.
Contrast this with at least part of the movie industry, as represented by Paramount Pictures. I received a letter from Al Perry, Paramount’s Vice President Worldwide Content Protection & Outreach. He proposed coming here to Brooklyn Law School to
exchange ideas about content theft, its challenges and possible ways to address it. We think about these issues on a daily basis. But, as these last few weeks [the SOPA and PROTECT IP debates] made painfully clear, we still have much to learn. We would love to come to campus and do exactly that.
Jason Mazzone, Jonathan Askin, and I are eagerly working to have Perry come to campus, both to present Paramount’s perspective and to discuss it with him. We’ll have input from students, faculty, and staff, and I expect there to be some pointed debate. We’re not naive – the goal here is to try to win support for Paramount’s position on dealing with IP infringement – but I’m impressed that Perry is willing to listen, and to enter the lion’s den (of a sort).
And that’s the key difference: Perry, and Paramount, recognize that Hollywood has lost a generation. For the last decade or so, students have grown up in a world where content is readily available via the Internet, through both licit and illicit means; where the content industries are the people who sue your friends and force you to watch anti-piracy warnings at the start of the movies you paid for; and where one aspires to be Larry Lessig, not Harvey Weinstein. Those of us who teach IP or Internet law have seen it up close. In another ten years, these young lawyers are going to be key Congressional staffers, think tank analysts, entrepreneurs, and law firm partners. And they think Hollywood is the enemy. I don’t share that view – I think the content industries are amoral profit maximizers, just like any other corporation – but I understand it.
And that’s where Sherman is wrong and Perry is right. The old moves no longer work. Buying Congresspeople to pass legislation drafted behind closed doors doesn’t really work (although maybe we’ll find out when we debate the Copyright Term Extension Act of 2018). Calling it “theft” when someone downloads a song they’d never otherwise pay for doesn’t work (even Perry is still on about this one).
One more thing about Sherman: his op-ed reminded me of Detective John Munch in Homicide, who breaks down and shouts at a suspect, “Don’t you ever lie to me like I’m Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams.” Sherman lies to our faces and expects us not to notice. He writes, “the Protect Intellectual Property Act (or PIPA) was carefully devised, with nearly unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate, and its House counterpart, the Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA), was based on existing statutes and Supreme Court precedents.” Yes, it was carefully devised – by content industries. SOPA was introduced at the end of October, and the single hearing that was held on it was stacked with proponents of the bill. “Carefully devised?” Key proponents didn’t even know how its DNS filtering provisions worked. He argues, “Since when is it censorship to shut down an operation that an American court, upon a thorough review of evidence, has determined to be illegal?” Because censorship is when the government blocks you from accessing speech before a trial. “A thorough review of evidence” is a flat lie: SOPA enabled an injunction filtering a site based on an ex parte application by the government, in contravention of a hundred years of First Amendment precedent. And finally, he notes the massive opposition to SOPA and PROTECT IP, but then asks, “many of those e-mails were from the same people who attacked the Web sites of the Department of Justice, the Motion Picture Association of America, my organization and others as retribution for the seizure of Megaupload, an international digital piracy operation?” This is a McCarthyite tactic: associating the remarkable democratic opposition to the bills – in stark contrast to the smoke-filled rooms in which Sherman worked to push this legislation – with Anonymous and other miscreants.
But the risk for Sherman – and Paramount, and Sony, and other content industries – is not that we’ll be angry, or they’ll be opposed. It’s that they’ll be irrelevant. And if Hollywood takes the Sherman approach, rather than the Perry one, deservedly so.
Cross-posted at Info/Law.
February 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm Posted in: Architecture, Culture, Cyber Civil Rights, Cyberlaw, DRM, First Amendment, Google & Search Engines, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Media Law, Political Economy, Politics, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post 5 Comments
posted by Stanford Law Review
Our 2012 Symposium Issue, The Privacy Paradox: Privacy and Its Conflicting Values, is now available online:
- A Reasonableness Approach to Searches After the Jones GPS Tracking Case by Peter Swire (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 57);
- Privacy in the Age of Big Data by Omer Tene & Jules Polonetsky (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 63);
- Yes We Can (Profile You): A Brief Primer on Campaigns and Political Data by Daniel Kreiss (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 70);
- Paving the Regulatory Road to the “Learning Health Care System” by Deven McGraw (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 75);
- Famous for Fifteen People: Celebrity, Newsworthiness, and Fraley v. Facebook by Simon J. Frankel, Laura Brookover & Stephen Satterfield (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 82); and
- The Right to Be Forgotten by Jeffrey Rosen (64 Stan. L. Rev. Online 88).
The text of Chief Judge Alex Kozinski’s keynote is forthcoming.
February 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm Posted in: Law Rev (Stanford), Law Rev Contents, Law School, Law School (Scholarship), Media Law, Military Law, Politics, Privacy, Privacy (Consumer Privacy), Privacy (Electronic Surveillance), Privacy (Law Enforcement), Privacy (Medical), Privacy (National Security), Social Network Websites, Supreme Court, Technology, Tort Law Print This Post No Comments
posted by Derek Bambauer
SOPA and PROTECT IP are dead… for now. (They’ll be back. COICA is like a wraith inhabiting PROTECT IP.) Until then, Michelle Schusterman has a terrific graphic about the movie industry’s predictions of doom with each new technological revolution. (Ditto the music industry: the player piano, radio, CDs, the MP3 player, etc., etc.) One reason for this is that it’s difficult to predict the effects of a new communications technology. People thought we’d use the telephone to listen to concerts from afar. But another reason is that content industries see advances not as an opportunity but as a threat – a threat that they deploy IP law to combat, or at least control. And in a policy space where lawmakers don’t demand actual data on threats before acting, trumped-up assertions of job loss and revenue loss can carry the day. This puts the lie to the theory that IP owners will move to exploit new communications media, if only they are protected against infringement. We didn’t get viable Internet-based music sales until iTunes in 2003, and Spotify is the first serious streaming app (the “celestial jukebox“). Think about prior efforts like Pressplay and MusicNow, and how terrible they were. Letting the content industry design delivery models is like letting Matt Millen draft your football team.
This is why piracy is a helpful pointer: it tells us what channels consumers want to use to access content. Sometimes this is just displacement of lawful consumption, as when college students with copious disposable income download songs via BitTorrent, but sometimes it indicates an unaddressed market niche (as with me and the baseball playoffs). To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, I think a little bit of infringement now and again is a good thing. It is only when there is a viable threat in a new medium that existing players innovate – or cut deals with those who do. In that regard, even if SOPA and PROTECT IP are effective at reducing infringement, we might not want them.
Cross-posted at Info/Law.
January 31, 2012 at 6:58 pm Posted in: Architecture, Culture, Cyberlaw, DRM, Innovation, Intellectual Property, Media Law, Movies & Television, Politics, Technology, Web 2.0 Print This Post 2 Comments