Libel & slander, Communications Decency Act, 1996 (United States), Rankings of websites, Liability (Law), and Actions & defenses (Law)
The article discusses issues related to online ratings and how reviewing and rating websites are largely protected from liability under the Communications Decency Act (CDA). It is noted that consumers who post ratings or reviews often do so anonymously, and it can be difficult for defamation plaintiffs to learn their identities. It is stated that section 230 of the CDA provides a formidable barrier to suit against rating and review websites.
Internet videos, Videos for the hearing impaired, Closed captioning, and Internet laws -- United States
The article discusses the governmental regulation of the Internet in the U.S. According to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) can exert regulation of the Internet from the summers of 2012. Also, the law allows FCC to regulate the Internet Protocol video captioning, video programming owners and the video programming distributors.
Fair use (Copyright), Copyright, Copyright Act of 1909 (U.S.), Copyright infringement, and Copyright of news articles
The article discusses whether a particular use of a copyrighted work in reporting the news constitutes fair use based on the Copyright Act of the U.S. The enactment of the Congress of an exception to the copyright owner's right to grant permission to others to reproduce his/her copyrighted work is tackled. The rules of fair use in news reporting and documentaries that are not limited to commenting on and demonstrating the existence of prior published copyrighted works are explored.
Confidential communications -- Press, Freedom of the press, Legal status of journalists, and Attribution of news
The article presents a discussion on the shield law for journalists in the United States. Employees of executive branch agencies, unlike reporters, editors and broadcasters, are protected by what is, in effect, a shield law that largely puts them beyond reach of subpoenas and court orders compelling testimony. Their agencies have adopted rules based on a law that goes back to an act of the United States Congress of 1789 and a 1951 ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Both government and the press share interests in keeping promises of confidentiality and avoiding the appearance of favoring any side in litigation. Yet only the executive branch is empowered by the Congress to shelter its employees from the subpoena power of the judicial system, in part through use of the federal housekeeping statute. However, the Congress can reverse this injustice by passing the Free Flow of Information Act, a pending legislation that would give journalists the qualified right to refuse to testify. INSET: U.S. Motion to Quash Subpoena Served upon EPA Employee..
The article informs that conduct of law enforcement of the U.S. primarily towards African American men has been the focus of intense public interest and so in December 2014, President Barack Obama urged the U.S. Congress to provide 75 million dollars to deploy 50,000 Body Worn Cameras (BWCs) as part of an effort to restore the public's trust. It also discusses White Paper of the American Civil Liberties Union called "Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, a Win for All."
Television broadcasting, Cable television, Indecent exposure, and Federal regulation
The infamous 2004 Super Bowl half-time incident, in which actor Justin Timberlake ripped open Janet Jackson's bustier and briefly exposed her right breast to the millions of viewers watching the CBS broadcast, triggered an election-year political frenzy to clean up the airwaves. Calling the half-time broadcast a classless, deplorable stunt, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael K. Powell vowed to begin a thorough and swift investigation. On March 11, 2004, the U.S. House passed its version of the Broadcast Indecency Act of 2004, which would increase the maximum statutory penalty for an indecency violation from $27,500 to $500,000 and authorize the FCC to begin license revocation proceedings against broadcasters with three or more indecency fines. Politics aside, the notion that the federal government can regulate the content of what is said on television and radio is widely accepted as a legal given. Although the FCC has been given relatively wide latitude to censor broadcast programming, the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated parallel government attempts to regulate indecency on cable television and the Internet.
Freedom of speech, Constitutional amendments (United States), September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001, and Presidential candidates
This article presents information on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment's free speech, free press, and religion clauses open the door to a wide array of hot-button issues in presidential politics. This article reviews presidential candidates' positions, based on their public statements and, in the case of Senator John Kerry, his congressional voting record, on the civil liberties protected by the First Amendment. U.S. President George W. Bush favors limitations on freedom of information to counteract terrorist threats while Senator Kerry espouses a more open government. Such views were evident in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and continue to this day. The U.S. Congress passed the USA Patriot Act within six weeks of the events of September 11. The implications of the USA Patriot Act for journalists and their organizations have been well documented. As one example, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed journalists from major media outlets to testify in the trial of a lawyer facing terrorism charges for allegedly conveying communications from a terrorist to his followers. The Bush administration takes a dim view of congressional actions, let alone journalistic coverage, that are critical of its policies.
Television laws, Aggression (Psychology), Violence, Public administration, and Social problems
This article reports that both the U.S. Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are examining the possibility of regulating depictions of violence on TV. The U.S. government's interest and efforts to regulate televised violence are almost as old as the medium itself. Congress narrowly avoided passing legislation in 2004 that would have required the FCC to adopt new regulations to restrict television violence. However, at the request of thirty-nine members of Congress, the Commission launched an inquiry to determine the extent to which TV violence is a problem and how it may be regulated. The Commission also asked whether potential regulations would be authorized by the Communications Act and would be consistent with the First Amendment. Although much of the public policy debate on the subject of televised violence is animated by social science research on the subject, those conducting the studies have used a wide variety of definitions and measures such that the definition of violence or aggression becomes extremely murky.
Fax transmission laws, Fax transmission, Marketing, Advertising, Business communication, Consumer law, Fax machines, Actions & defenses (Law), and Mass media industry
The article reports that facsimile marketing has emerged in recent years as a significant area of legal risk for companies, including media companies, that communicate with customers and potential customers through this medium. The U.S. Congress passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which created a private right of action for statutory damages of $500 per violation of the ban on unsolicited facsimile advertisements, with treble damages available for willful violations. It suggests that defendants in TCPA actions while dealing with distinct claims should investigate an EBR or permission. If there is a provable EBR or express permission defense, many TCPA plaintiffs will drop the claim.
Confidential communications -- Press, Reporters & reporting -- Law & legislation, Press law, Legal status of journalists, and Attribution of news
The article presents a discussion on the federal shield law that offers journalists a privilege not to disclose confidential sources or other unpublished information. The driving forces behind establishing a federal shield law in the U.S. Congress are the incarceration of newspaper reporter Judith Miller and the home detention sentence served by television reporter James Taricani, as well as the threatened sanctions against a half dozen other journalists who have thus far refused to identify their confidential sources. But the genesis of the shield law effort was the pen of judge Richard Posner, the influential jurist who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. It was Posner who in July 2003 scoffed at the notion that the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision in "Branzburg v. Hayes" afforded journalists a privilege not to disclose confidential sources or other unpublished information. For more than thirty years, the overwhelming majority of state and federal courts had read the case as conferring a First Amendment privilege, based largely on justice Lewis Powell's concurring opinion. The judicial consensus had been that the First Amendment provides journalists with a qualified privilege to resist efforts to compel testimony about their confidential sources or about unpublished information gained in the course of researching a story.
Email systems, Privileges & immunities (Law), Courts, and Criminal procedure
Until very recently, the case law under 47 U.S.C. § 230 has been extremely predictable. Beginning with Zeran v. America Online Inc., courts in at least eight circuits and five states of the U.S. have held that § 230 broadly immunizes providers and users of interactive computer services from most forms of liability arising from the carriage or transmission of allegedly harmful content that originated with someone else. Defendants seeking to avail themselves of the immunity from liability virtually always won. This article examines four noteworthy decisions construing § 230, all within the last nine months. In Batzel v. Smith, the Ninth Circuit ruled that § 230 potentially protects an individual interactive service user who had been sued for intentionally disseminating an allegedly defamatory e-mail message sent to him by a complete stranger. In Carafano v. Metrosplash.com Inc., the Ninth Circuit held that the provider of a personal matchmaking web site could not be held liable for an allegedly defamatory personal profile that the service generated based on a miscreant user's bogus answers to multiple-choice questions.
Parliamentary practice, Legislative amendments, United States legislators, Presidents of the United States, and Federal government
This article demonstrates the difficulties of analyzing current events in a legal periodical. The article was written before Christmas, edited the week between the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, and sent to the printer the day after Super Tuesday. The summer issue includes a more detailed analysis of the views of the U.S. Senator John Kerry and incumbent President George W. Bush. From free press issues to Establishment Clause concerns (including the use of "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, the presence of a ten commandments monument in a state building, school vouchers, and school prayer) to free speech considerations including flag burning and campaign finance reform, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates share more similarities than differences. They have distinct opinions on the issues, however, and the difference in the vigor and clarity of their views is even more apparent on closer examination. Senator has promised to "open unnecessary secrets in federal government."
Conferences & conventions, Communication laws, and Pro bono publico legal services
The article offers information on a Forum on Communications Law by American Bar Association (ABA) which was held with an aim to promote pro bono work and help its members find pro bono opportunities where they can use their specialized expertise. It includes details on topics discussed at forum such as commercial speech, freedom of information, data collection and use, FCC regulation, and First Amendment law.
Forums (Discussion & debate), Mass media -- Law & legislation, Conferences & conventions, Career development -- United States, and Professional employees -- United States
The author offers his insight on the American Bar Association (ABA) Forum and its members. He notes that the Forum serves as a tool in creating a community of collegial professionals dedicated their professional careers to communications and media law. He points out the commitment of the Forum to create close relationships between its members. He also provides information about its Annual Conference to be held in St. Regis Monarch Beach, California from February 8-9, 2013.