Friday, May 31, 2013

Federal Appeals Court Sides with Time Warner Cable in Nexstar Contract Dispute

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A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit yesterday in Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. v. Time Warner Cable, Inc. (Case No. 12-10935) upheld a trial court's refusal to grant injunctive relief to Irving, Texas-based Nexstar, thereby, enabling Time Warner to retransmit television signals to its cable subscribers in remote markets.

The appellate panel ruled that Time Warner legitimately had a statutory license to rebroadcast the signals of  Nexstar's  television stations in Rochester, NY; Terre Haute, Ind.; and Wilkes-Barre, Penn., to subscribers in other markets, including Winston-Salem,  N.C., Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Ky., Burlington, Vt.; Plattsburgh, NY; and Orlando, Fla. The plaintiff alleged in its July 2012, breach of contract action that Time Warner was not paying for retransmission of the signals and that it ran afoul of FCC nonduplication rules by, for example, broadcasting the same syndicated programming to its Winston-Salem subscribers at the same time as another station in the market.

The appeals court found the parties' retransmission consent agreement was broad and not geographically restrictive. Judge E. Grady Jolly concluded in the panel's opinion that the agreement gave "Time Warner broad authority to retransmit Nexstar signals on Time Warner stations." Moreover, the appellate panel ruled Nexstar failed to put Time Warner on notice concerning its alleged breach of the nonduplication rules.

Tip of the hat to Courthouse News Service for reporting on this decision.
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Insult to the Memory of 'The Front Page'

Chicago Sun-Times
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The tabloid Chicago Sun-Times has eliminated its entire photography department staff and will rely on freelancers and reporters with smartphones to provide images and video content, rival Chicago Tribune reported today.

Between 20 and 30 Sun-Times staffers will be pink-slipped. The economic bottom-line decision to shut down the photography department is a slap in the face to former Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun-Times photographers such as John J. Kim, John H. White and countless others.

Since 2012, the Sun-Times editorial page editors decided not to endorse political candidates, the paper shuttered its suburban bureaus and is being printed by the Tribune. At some point, you have to decide if you still want to be a newspaper and an important voice in the community or just a revenue-generating advertiser.

The former Chicago-dwelling staff of "TUOL" recalls a Sun-Times that featured Mike Royko, Roger Simon, Roger Ebert and lesser-known, but highly skilled reporters and photographers, and is deeply saddened to see what the tabloid has become.

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Esquire Network Programming Debuts in September

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The rebranding of the G4 cable network by the Esquire Network begins September 23 with a self-congratulatory two-hour tribute to the 80-year-old Esquire Magazine's history, according to the FishbowlNY Web site.

The Esquire Network's male target audience is bracing for content designed, according to EN, to satisfy the "full, multi-faceted lives of today's modern men." FishbowlNY reports programming will include Brew Dogs, Horse Players, Risky Listing and How I Rock It. The latter program presumably will air later in the evening because it has more than a two-word title.

Brew Dogs stars two Scottish beermeisters who travel the U.S. sampling primo craft beers that probably have fuller heads than the audience watching Brew Dogs. Horse Players is a behind-the-scenes look at horse race handicapping that Esquire Network probably pitched to advertisers by promising them it would attract stable viewers.

For viewers who love danger and intrigue, Risky Listing explores the "competitive world of New York nightlife real estate" and is rated H for "Huh"? Lastly, How I Rock It is a lifestyle show hosted by 34-year-old former New York Knick Baron Davis and his torn ACL. Davis shares a birthday with the NBA-lovin' editorial head of "TUOL," so clearly, his show is the most promising of the lot.

The Hearst-owned Esquire Magazine that the staff of "TUOL" devoured in its youth featured writers such as Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer and Gay Talese. The glimpse of Esquire Network content provided by FishbowlNY reveals one common trait among "today's modern men"--apparently, they're morons.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Anyone Wanna Buy a Debt-Laden, Subscriber-Deprived, Digital-Only News Journal?

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Maybe three times will be the charm for beleaguered IAC-owned Newsweek.

Once boasting a circulation of three million, Newsweek has changed hands twice in the past three years. Acquired in 2010 from The Washington Post Co. for $1 plus assumption of its considerable debt by the late audio magnate Sidney Harman, Newsweek merged with the Daily Beast in 2012 and its present majority owner, Barry Diller's IAC, is looking to unload the forlorn digital-only publication, Variety reports.

Online traffic reportedly has reportedly shrunk by one million unique visitors over the past four months and its subscription base has plunged from 1.5 million to 470,000, according to the Variety article. The magazine renamed its digital version Newsweek Global, even though, unlike in the U.S., print editions of the newsweekly are still available around the world pursuant to royalty arrangements.

Newsweek debuted a revamped Web site this month, and Variety reported the publication has plans to unveil a paywall that will charge Web site visitors $2.99 a month to subscribe. Diller has been quoted in the press recently as saying he regrets purchasing the 80-year-old publication.
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Commercial Broadcasters Showdown in DC Federal Court to Stop Programming Re-Transmitter

Logo of Fox Television Stations
Logo of Fox Television Stations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Same battle, different forum.

 Fox Televisions Stations, Inc., joined by 10 other plaintiffs, has sued Alki David's Aereokiller LLC and FilmOn.TV in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to stop unlicensed online streaming of commercial television programming. The 23-page complaint, Fox Television Stations, Inc. et al v. Aerokiller, LLC et al (Case No. 1:13-cv-00758) alleges copyright infringement.

Similar to the battle waged against Aereo by broadcasters transmitting content over the public airwaves (see "TUOL" posts 5/17/13, 8/14/12), the plaintiffs have thus far fared better against David's five-year-old digital tv streaming companies. According to a post by The Hollywood Reporter's THR, Esq. Web site, a California federal court this year issued an injunction against Aerokiller, finding a likelihood that the company was infringing on broadcasters' copyrighted programming. Last month, however, broadcasters were dealt a setback by a federal appeals court ruling in New York that refused to halt Aereo from retransmitting programming over the Internet.

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Texas Solons Send Gov. Perry Libel Mitigation Bill

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Texas lawmakers this week voted 148-0 to approve H.B. 1759, the Defamation Mitigation Act, a measure backed by publishers and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, the Associated Press reported.

The Senate-amended bill swept through the House and is headed to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for his signature. The measure is intended "to provide a method for a person who has been defamed by a publication or broadcast to mitigate any perceived damage or injury." 

The bill requires the media outlet in question to publish a timely correction as conspicuous as the original offending speech. The measure puts a ceiling on the amount of damages recoverable for non-malicious errors and prevents a plaintiff from receiving punitive damages unless the plaintiff demands a retraction by the media defendant within 90 days of the allegedly defamatory speech.
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Anchor Away in St. Louis; Fired for anti-Obama Post

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Larry Conners, St. Louis'  longest-serving 10 p.m. news anchor, has been pink-slipped by KMOV-TV for a Facebook post critical of the Obama Administration, Mediaite reported today.

Conners, who conducted a feisty interview with President Obama during the 2012 campaign, alleged in a May 13 Facebook post: "I don't accept 'conspiracy theories,' but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me....Can I prove it? At this time, no. But it is a fact that since the April 2012 interview...the IRS has been pressuring me."

Conners publicly backed off from his post on the air, but the station wasn't mollified. In a statement regarding his termination on its Web site, KMOV-TV said Conners exhibited an "appearance of bias that is inconsistent with important journalistic standards."

Anchorman consumed by paranoia. News at 10...
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

UPDATE: Appeals Court Upholds FOIA Exemption Barring Release of bin Laden Photos

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In the 14-page unanimous per curiam ruling this week by a three-member panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Department of Defense (Case No. 12-5137), the appellate court upheld a trial court's decision last year that graphic photos involving slain terrorist leader Osama bin Laden were exempt from having to be produced under the Freedom of Information Act [5 U.S.C. sec. 552].

The three appellate judges, Judith Rogers, Merrick Garland and Harry Edwards, said the CIA properly withheld the 52 images of bin Laden concerning his death and burial pursuant to FOIA's Exemption 1, which protects from mandatory disclosure matters "(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive Order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order." Authorities argued release of the photos could inflame supporters of bin Laden and incite violence, endangering Americans here and abroad.

Conservative watchdog Judicial Watch, Inc. sought the images soon after Seal Team Six raided the Abbottabad, Pakistan, compound in May 2011, killing bin Laden. The group argued no FOIA exemption prevented disclosure of the images and disputed whether the CIA observed proper protocol when it initially classified the photos.

United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge James Boasberg last year sided with the government (see "TUOL" posts 1/14/13, 4/27/12 & 1/30/12). The appellate panel, while ceding some questions regarding whether the CIA strictly followed procedures to classify the images remained, nevertheless subscribed to the view that were the photos to become public, they could be used by America's enemies both as a recruitment tool and to incite acts of violence. Even less graphic images, the court noted, could reveal the identities of U.S. military operatives putting them and their families at risk.
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Eminem Music Licensor Sues Facebook for Copyright Infringement

The Eminem Show
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Social media behemoth Facebook and an Oregon ad agency have been sued for copyright infringement [17 U.S.C. sec. 101 et seq.] in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by the company that licenses and manages the music of 40-year-old rapper/songwriter Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III).

In the Complaint filed May 20, Eight Mile Style, LLC & Martin Affiliated LLC v. Wieden + Kennedy Inc. & Facebook, Inc. (Case No. 2:13-cv-12268-GAD-MAR), the plaintiffs allege the defendants used an unauthorized version of Eminem's song "Under the Influence" from his Marshall Mathers LP to promote Facebook Home, an Android-compatible smartphone software application enabling users to post Facebook content from their mobile devices that was introduced in April 2013. The Complaint alleges the defendant ad agency selected the music to win over Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg, purportedly a big fan of Eminem.

According to a post about the suit by Courthouse News Service, Eight Mile Style LLC has brought 10 copyright infringement suits dating back to 2010. In an article about the copyright suit, the THR, Esq. Web site reported that the defendant ad agency claimed hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, who often collaborates with Eminem, wrote "Under the Influence" by allegedly cannibalizing a Michael Jackson hit, "Give It to Me."

Judge Gershwin A. Drain will preside over the parties' discordant notes.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

NBC News Taps Turness; First Woman to Helm Network News Division in U.S.

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Forty-six-year-old Deborah Turness, who has headed the London-based ITV News since 2004, has been appointed president of NBC News, the New York Times reported yesterday.

NBC News, America's first producer of network news, dating back to 1940, becomes the first broadcast journalism operation in the U.S. to hire a woman to run a network news division. She replaces Steve Capus, who just completed an eight-year run as NBC News' top honcho.

Turness' challenges include trying to restore the luster of the Today Show, which has yielded its top morning program status to ABC's Good Morning America. NBC News last week was socked with the network's decision to cancel Brian Williams' Rock Center news magazine program because of cost and paltry ratings.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

WaPo: DOJ Tracked Fox News Reporter in North Korea Leak Probe

Dismissed U.S. attorneys summary
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The furor over the U.S. Department of Justice subpoena of the phone records of Associated Press reporters and bureaus (see "TUOL" post 5/14/13) has yet to abate, but in a story yesterday that is sure raise the concern of journalists and free press advocates, the Washington Post reported that the DOJ zeroed in on a Fox News correspondent in its probe and subsequent charges against government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim in 2010 for allegedly disclosing national defense information concerning North Korea.

Kim's trial arising from the alleged leak of classified information in 2009, regarding possible nuclear tests by North Korea in response to U.N. sanctions may go forward in 2014, but in its review of  affidavits and other court documents and an interview with Kim's attorney, the Sunday Washington Post story disclosed DOJ's purported actions against James Rosen, a Fox Washington correspondent, who did a story in June 2009, about U.S. intelligence officers warning about reprisals from North Korea.

The Post story claims DOJ employed security badge access records to monitor Rosen's visits to and from the State Department and obtained a search warrant to review Rosen's emails as part of its investigation of Kim.

Although at present, there is no federal shield law and the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment does not create a reporter's privilege regarding confidential sources, government has generally subpoenaed reporters as a last resort when unable to obtain vital information through other means, and traditionally has negotiated with the news media over the release of confidential information.

This blog has railed about the threat to the First Amendment and the "chilling effect" on the marketplace of ideas that would result from sources not speaking to reporters out of fear of being exposed by the government. The staff of "TUOL" is resisting its glib instinct to respond to the WaPo story by noting that because Fox News is involved, no journalist is being threatened.

Rather, "TUOL" will join the chorus lamenting a DOJ that is running amok in its pursuit of "leakers" at the expense of freedom of speech and of the press, the cornerstone of American society, and advises President (and former Constitutional Law Professor) Barack Obama to bone-up on his First Amendment lecture notes.

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Yahoo! Takes a Tumblr

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As part of CEO Marissa Mayer's strategy to bolster her Internet company's appeal to the 18- to 24-year-old demographic group, Yahoo! today is expected to announce the $1.1 billion cash purchase of New York-based social blogger Tumblr, according to a report by All Things Digital (, which initially broke the story last week.

Tumblr CEO David Karp reportedly scored a cash windfall from the acquisition and will commit to staying at Yahoo! for four years and remain a force overseeing Tumblr. The original desktop-based platform that has expanded to mobile boasts 107.8 million blogs on its Web site. According to com.score, Tumblr attracted 117 million visitors last month.

The Allthingsd story said Yahoo! will bolster the advertising structure of Tumblr, which claims it garnered $13 million in ad revenue last year. Tumblr reportedly is valued at $800 million. There were no other competitive bidders for Tumblr.
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Digital TV Streamer Asks Court to Dismiss Broadcast Networks Copyright Suit

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In a 31-page motion for summary judgment, digital tv streaming service Aereo has asked United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alison Nathan to dismiss copyright infringement claims brought by commercial public broadcasters. 

In American Broadcasting Cos. et al v. Aereo (Case No. 1:12-cv-01540), Aereo, which is financially backed by media mogul Barry Diller (see "TUOL" post 8/14/12), argues the March 2012, copyright infringement suit brought by commercial broadcasters CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox should be dismissed following the networks' failure to persuade the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to overturn Judge Nathan's earlier ruling not to issue a permanent injunction against Aereo for allegedly violating the broadcasters' right to public performance of its programming by not securing a license from the networks.

Aereo, which digitally streams broadcasters' programming over the Internet one-on-one to subscribers' computers and Web-enabled devices, contends its transmission to individuals' miniature antennae is nonpublic and in any case, protected by the fair use defense to copyright infringement, as reported by BloombergBusinessWeek( and the Hollywood Reporter's legal blog THR, Esq. The networks counter that Aereo capturing their over-the-air signals and transmitting its programming constitutes a public performance that infringes on their copyrights.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Touch That Dial: Reports of the Death of Radio Premature

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A study by Latitude Research and OpenMnd Strategy commissioned by Clear Channel Media & Entertainment revealed that the demographic group most sought-after by advertisers still has a soft spot for radio.

The study, which included focus groups and an online survey of 1,000 folks between the ages of 13 and 54, found that 82 percent of participants immediately tune in the radio when they get into their cars, according to an article in the San Antonio Business Journal.  The Journal article reported that 94 percent of  those queried between the ages of 13 and 17 and 89 percent of  participants aged 18 to 24 said they listen to the radio at least once a week.

Clear Channel, a subsidiary of CC Media Holdings, Inc., is the nation's largest owner of AM & FM stations and also boasts 12 XM Satellite Radio stations, so readers may want to jiggle the antenna a bit before digesting the sponsored survey findings.
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You (Auto)Complete Me: Google Runs Afoul of German Court

English: Office Building where Google Germany ...
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Search engine colossus Google has once again run afoul of a court because of its "Suggestion" or algorithmic autocomplete function.

Germany's Federal Court of Justice in Karisruhe this week ruled that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company is obligated to remove defamatory autocomplete content once it is notified, according to a post by the Jurist Web site ( The founder of a company that produces nutritional supplements alleged he was defamed because when his or his company's name was entered in a search in Google's German-language site, suggested links to fraud and  the controversial religion Scientology were part of the autocomplete results.

The Federal Court said search engine operators needn't routinely verify that autocomplete search results are error-free, but once apprised that suggested results unlawfully violate an individual's rights, the operators are legally bound to remove the offending material.

As chronicled by this blog, Google has previously been taken to task for autocomplete mishaps, including a Japanese court that ordered Google to pay $3,000 to a person who was wrongly linked to a crime he didn't commit (see "TUOL" post 4/17/13) and by a French court that assessed  $6,000 in attorneys' fees against Google when the suggestions of rapist and Satanist were associated with the entry of an unidentified plaintiff's name in a search (see "TUOL" post 9/27/10).

The staff of "TUOL" in its brush with high school math learned long ago that nothing good can come from an algorithm.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DOJ Broad Subpoena of AP Journos Phone Logs an Assault on Press Freedom

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The great jurist, Judge Learned Hand,  recognized that "[t]he hand that rules the press, the radio, the screen and the far-spread magazine rules the country." "A free press is not a privilege," journalist Walter Lippman wrote, "but an organic necessity in a great society."

Unfortunately, the Administration of President Barack Obama, which has initiated a record six cases under the Espionage Act against individuals alleged to have leaked classified information, has embraced Judge Hand's caveat but apparently turned its back on Lippmann's plea for press freedom, the cornerstone of our society.

The U.S. Department of Justice subpoenaed the telephone records of 20 phone lines of Associated Press reporters and editors from April and May 2012, which included journalists' cellphone and home numbers, and those of AP bureaus in New York, Hartford and Washington, D.C., as well as the AP press phone in the U.S. House of Representatives, the DOJ revealed to the AP last Friday.  Reportedly, the subpoenas sought the telephone numbers of those with whom the AP staffers had contact and the length of each call. Purportedly, the DOJ was reacting to a May 2012, AP story about a thwarted terrorist plan in Yemen and was gathering data for its probe into how AP learned about a conspiracy involving an underwear bomber on an airline destined for the U.S.

AP condemned the government seizure of phone logs as a "massive and unprecedented intrusion by the Department of Justice into the news-gathering activities (of AP)." The American Civil Liberties Union criticized the DOJ's actions as "an unacceptable abuse of power." AP CEO Gary Pruitt has demanded the return of the phone records and that all copies be destroyed.

Media organizations and free press advocates expressed shock at the breadth of the phone logs sought by the DOJ under the mantle of national security and fretted about the chilling effect the move would have on reporters' interactions with their sources.  Joining in the chorus of those criticizing the DOJ actions were prominent GOP legislators and members of past Republican White House administrations, many of whom wouldn't have shed a tear if the New York Times building had burned down when the Times reported during the Bush Administration on NSA wiretaps of Americans' overseas phone calls and the overseas locations where enhanced interrogation of suspected terrorists occurred.

Because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735 (1979), authorities need only show relevance to a criminal investigation to secure subpoenas of telephone carriers for data, including incoming calls and the phone numbers of outgoing calls and when such calls were made. In contrast, electronic eavesdropping on the phone calls of American citizens is illegal unless law enforcement obtains a warrant from a judge.

Apparently, the DOJ did not inform the AP about seizing the phone records for more than two months after it secured the records, which appears to violate government regulations set forth in 28 C.F.R. sec. 50.10. Under the regulations, the news media must be told of the receipt of any data within 45 days. Moreover, the Attorney General must give approval to the Justice Dept. before it subpoenas the press, which is usually a last resort. Protocol usually involves authorities making an attempt to negotiate with the targeted media outlet for release of information before resorting to subpoenas.

The political blowback against elected officials perceived to be anything but vigilant and steel-jawed in their pursuit of those who would do harm to the U.S. has too often in recent years caused those in power, along with the news media and the public, to be lax in their support of the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment and other Constitutional provisions.  But as Thomas Jefferson once noted: " A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both and deserve neither."

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Massachusetts Racetrack 'SLAPPed' with Legal Costs for Lame Libel Suit

Harness racing
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Plainridge Racecourse, d/b/a Ourway Realty, has dropped its appeal of a Norfolk County Superior Court judge's dismissal of its defamation suit against a Plainville (Mass.) opponent of slot machine gambling at the harness racing track and will pay the defendant's attorneys fees of almost $25,000 pursuant to the Massachusetts anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute [M.G.L. c. 231, sec. 59H], the Attleboro Sun Chronicle reported.

The libel case, Ourway Realty, LLC v. Thomas Keen (Case No. 12-cv-00963), was brought by the track against the Plainville resident, who maintained a Web site and Facebook page advocating against adding slot machines at the track, based on a poster's comment on the Web site regarding a home-security photo of an intruder that police should search the race track to find the burglar. The ACLU of Massachusetts, through private counsel, successfully argued a motion to dismiss the complaint under the anti-SLAPP statute, which states in relevant part: "In any case in which a party asserts that the civil claims, counterclaims or cross claims against said party are based on said party's exercise of its right of petition under the constitution of the United States or of the commonwealth, said party may bring a special motion to dismiss."

The Sun Chronicle article reported that the plaintiff would pay the defendant's legal costs, but that no damages were assessed against the race track.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

9th Circuit Concludes Righthaven Isn't Right: No Standing to Press Copyright Claims

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In its 15-page opinion in Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn (Case No. 11-16751), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last week affirmed a district court ruling that a litigious copyright holding company lacked the substantive exclusive right of ownership to pursue infringement claims against various online sites.

The eloquent decision written by Justice Richard Clifton began: "Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so...Before us is a case about a lawyer who tried to establish that a company owned a copyright by drafting a contract calling the company the copyright owner, even though the company lacked the rights associated with copyright ownership. Heeding Lincoln's wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely callling someone a copyright owner does not make it so." 

Righthaven LLC, founded in 2010 and derided by First Amendment advocates as a copyright troll, has fallen on hard times, selling its domain name at auction in 2012 to help satisfy its debts. Its brief meteoric ascension came from partnering with newspapers to pursue infringement claims against online sites that reproduced content from the dailies without permission.

At issue in the case was an inarticulately drafted assignment agreement between Righthaven and  the actual copyright holder purportedly giving to Righthaven the rights "requisite to have Righthaven recognized as the copyright owner of the [articles] for purposes of Righthaven being able to claim ownership as well as the right to seek redress for past, present and future infringements of the and to the [articles]."

But the Ninth Circuit decision said Righthaven lacked standing to pursue copyright infringement suits and cited a separate agreement between the actual copyright holder and Righthaven that imposed restrictions on what the company could do regarding the assigned copyright, thereby derailing the exclusive right of ownership mandated by the Copyright Act to allow a party to pursue infringement claims.

Judge Clifton's decision awarded costs to the defendant against Righthaven.
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Journalism Watchdog Suffering from Distemper?

Columbia University School of Journalism
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Cyndi Stivers,  the one-time managing editor of, has stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of Columbia Journalism Review, a post she held since November 2011, to become editor-in-chief of, reported last week.

Stivers' departure comes amid severe ax-wielding at CJR that includes the planned June layoffs of Executive Editor Mike Hoyt, who has served in that capacity for a decade, and Editor-at-Large Justin Peters, as well as an ultimatum to staffers Curtis Brainard and Dean Starkman to accept half-time employment or be laid off, according to the article.

The newsroom shake-up at CJR, a bimonthly periodical that has covered the journalism industry since 1961, coincides with Steve Coll becoming Dean at Columbia Journalism School, replacing Nick Lemann. The school publishes CJR, which is funded through advertising, subscriptions, foundation funding and grants.

According to the capitalnewyork post, the industry-wide malaise in advertising revenue and circulation is attributed to CJR's anticipated shortfall in meeting its fund-raising goals. CJR reimburses the amount of its annual budget that is advanced by the journalism school. Neither CJR nor the school responded to the piece.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

Calif. Judge Refuses to Bar Daily from Deposition in Open Government Suit

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Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin yesterday denied respondent's request for a protective order that would have prevented the Los Angeles Times from attending the deposition of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Interim G.M. John Sandbrook in an open-government lawsuit, the Times reported.

In his written order denying the request in Los Angeles Times Communications et al. v. Los Angeles Coliseum Commission (Case No. BS138331), Judge Lavin chided the respondent for seeking a "gag order" in a case involving "a public matter." Counsel for Sandbrook, who walked out of his deposition in March because of the presence of Times reporters, argued unsuccessfully that press coverage of his testimony was an abuse of discovery. But Judge Lavin wrote that just because Sandbrook "may not like an article the Los Angeles Times writes about him" is an inadequate basis for barring the press from the deposition.

The Times and free press advocacy group Californians Aware sued the Coliseum Commission, alleging it violated  the California Public Records Act [Gov. Code sec. 6250 et seq.] by withholding documents from public view and accused the respondent of engaging in secret deliberations with USC concerning a stadium lease. The Commission denies the allegations.

Citing the two occasions that the arena hosted the Summer Olympics, Judge Lavin said the government transparency suit was a matter of public interest because the Coliseum is "an important landmark with cultural and historic significance." Judge Lavin refused the respondent's request to stay his ruling for 30 days, but also denied the petitioner's motion for attorneys' fees.

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Finding Their Voice: Editors Quit NY Weekly Rather Than Fire Staffers

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After a six-month tenure as Editor-in-Chief, Will Bourne has resigned from the Village Voice, joined by Deputy Editor Jessica Lustig, Web site Fishbowl NY reported yesterday.

According to Fishbowl, Bourne and Lustig quit, rather than carry out Executive Editor's Christine Brennan's directive to terminate five of the alternative weekly's 20-member editorial staff.  The once-revered weekly has been weakened by sagging ad revenues and circulation that has plagued the newspaper industry overall. In recent years, the Voice lost many of its most prominent writers, including film critic J. Hoberman, Nat Hentoff and Tom Robbins (see "TUOL" post 1/5/12).
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

AOL Online Media Properties Still Hemorrhaging Money

The second logo for AOL, used from 2006–2009
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America Online-owned The Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Patch continued to drag down AOL's financial performance during Q1, according to reports by and

Despite overall revenue growth of 2 percent, sales plunged 9 percent at AOL's dial-up online subscription division. The HuffPo/Patch/TechCrunch division was bathed in red ink to the tune of $4.9 million based on First Quarter results.

The media giant's CEO Tim Armstrong maintains a positive attitude toward his acquisitions of the three entities, but on Wall St., AOL stands for Armstrong's Operating Losers.
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NY Tabloid Doles Out Dozen-Plus Pink Slips

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Although the New York Daily News would not confirm the story, reported today that as many as 15 staffers were laid off by the tabloid, including long-time gossip columnist Joanna Molloy.

The Daily News, the nation's fifth most widely read newspaper with a combined  average digital and print daily circulation of 516,165, reportedly told the terminated editorial staffers that the move was part of the paper's "restructuring" that will emphasize digital news, according to the article.

Molloy teamed with husband George Rush to write the tabloid's popular Rush & Molloy gossip column for 15 years before Rush accepted a voluntary buyout from the daily in 2010. Others reportedly pink-slipped include columnist Albor Ruiz, reporters Robert Gearty and Christina Boyle and editorial writers Stephen McFarland and Alexander Nazaryan, who also worte the News' blog about books.
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Like Mothra, Huffington Post Swoops into Tokyo; Launches Japanese Edition

Front page of the first issue of Asahi Shimbun
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Partnering with Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second largest newspaper with more than seven million daily readers, AOL-owned news aggregator The Huffington Post this week launched a Japanese edition.

According to a post by the independent media publishing company, HuffPo also last week announced plans to debut an edition in Germany in a joint effort with Tomorrow Focus AG. HuffPo debuted its U.K. version in July 2011 (see "TUOL" post 6/22/11), the same year Canada's HuffPO went online (see "TUOL" post 5/26/11). Other European editions are online in France in collaboration with Le Monde (see "TUOL" post 1/23/12); Italy, in partnership with GruppoExpresso; and Spain in partnership with El Pais.

Shigeki Matsuura will be at the helm of Huffington Post Japan. The editor-in-chief previously helped to launch the online edition of Wired in Japan and political blogging site BLOGOS. Asahi Shimbun's digital division director hopes HuffPo will draw a younger demographic than the print edition, and aspires to reach 50 million monthly visitors, according to the post.

As HuffPo's plan for world domination moves apace, soon online visitors on every continent will be able to glimpse side boob photos of Miley Cyrus.
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ex-Playboy Bunny Gets Nothing Off Her Rocker: Judge Tosses Libel Suit

Eagles Fly
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In Jane Doe v. Sammy Hagar (Case No. 6:2011-cv-02067), United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa Judge Linda A. Reade last week granted summary judgment in favor of the one-time Van Halen vocalist, dismissing a defamation suit brought by a former Playboy bunny who alleged she was libeled by statements in the 65-year-old Hagar's 2011 memoir, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.

As reported by the Associated Press, the plaintiff, a Waterloo, Iowa, woman identified only as Jane Doe, alleged she became pregnant with Hagar's child in 1988 after an affair she had with The Red Rocker in the '80s. The child died shortly after birth in 1989.

In his memoir, Hagar denied being the father of the child and accused the woman of trying to extort money from him. Judge Reade said the plaintiff was unable to prove she suffered damages because of the purported offending statement in the memoir and that a key element of a defamation claim--that the false statement be of or concerning the plaintiff--was not satisfied because Hagar did not name her in his book.

Hagar's career as a solo performer and as the lead vocalist for Van Halen after David Lee Roth left the band, boasts several hits, including Little White Lie and Your Love is Driving Me Crazy.

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