I recently interviewed Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, about the most common legal issues facing college media related to their online presence. His responses are included in the YouTube video below.
Logan Aimone, director of ACP/NSPA, led a live chat for the Poynter Institute about teaching moderating online comments, a topic that comes up about every six months or so. There was some great discussion in the chat, which is archived here: How Do I Teach Online Comment Moderation?
Via a thread on the CMA listserv, Frank LoMonte at the Student Press Law Center points out an SPLC podcast (I didn’t even know they were doing podcasts!) “in which legal experts Steve Zansberg and Robert Becker discuss how to minimize your risk of unpleasant confrontations with police when attending high-security events like the inaugural. Â Steve was the attorney for several journalists jailed during last summerâ€™s Democratic National Convention, and Bob is a former Reportersâ€™ Committee for Freedom of the Press staff attorney who has represented journalists jailed covering demonstrations in Washington, D.C.”
Becker is also going to be available for students in an emergency should they have a run in with the police. If that should happen, contact the SPLC at 703-807-1904, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current TV will broadcast the debate live and overlay debate-related Twitter messages in near-real time. For those TV-impaired folks like myself, the debate will also be broadcast on the Currentweb site.
In other debate-related news, both McCain and Obama have supported the release of video from the debate as public domain, available for remix and reuse, according to IP lawyer Lawrence Lessig. There still seems to be some question about whether the media will make the pool TV feed available, but claiming copyright over this type of thing is unAmerican. I could see CNN wanting to protect its rights over the fever chart idea, but the straight video feed shouldn’t be the property of any entity.
Two UK students and the photo adviser for the Kentucky Kernel were arrested at the Republican National Convention Monday afternoon in St. Paul, Minn., on charges of felony rioting. They were photographing the protesting of the convention.Photographers Ed Matthews and Britney McIntosh and adviser Jim Winn were three of 286 people arrested as convention protests escalated into riots Monday.
With all the media frenzy over GOP Candidate John McCain‘s pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, images of police in riot gear dispersing protesters have been missing from the coverage of the RNC.
Image via WikipediaAdam Hemphill writes about a recent case of an attempt by administrators to control online content for a college newspaper through a somewhat unique avenue – demanding access to the newspaper’s web server if the server is purchased by the university.
Seattle Pacific University’s Falcon student newspaper is in the crosshairs in the Seattle Times article. SPU is a private university, but I wouldn’t put it past administrators on public university campuses to try the same argument.
The other twist to the story is that it is another case involving online archives of old stories – usually an arrest story involving someone who now wants the information out of their Google trail.
This months’ Carnival of Journalism features the following topic:
Â What changes will need to be made in national and international legal systems to help the digital age, and especially journalism in the digital age, flourish? We talk a lot about hyper-local journalism, innovation, the journalism entrepreneur, etc. But we don’t often talk much about the legal issues still hanging in the background out there…
The biggest legal issue, IMHO, is not related to intellectual property (copyright, fair use, etc.), but freedom of expression.
The crux of the problem is that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is somewhat unique in its recognition of freedom of the press, as interpreted by U.S. courts. In terms of prior restraint and defamation, especially, the U.S. legal protections go well beyond those provided for the media in other countries.
So, for instance, a blogger or news outlet located in the United States could be sued for hate speech or defamation or prejudicing a jury in another country. See this International Herald Tribune article for one example of how laws differ from country to country.
This wasn’t so much an issue in the past, but as Doug notes, the Internet creates a virtual world of ideas without boundaries. So whose jurisdiction wins?
Honestly, I don’t know the answer to the question. It is buried deep within my U.S. Bill of Rights-loving bones to assert that the answer to speech that offends is more speech that asserts the truth, not the heavy club of the law. But there is also a realization that other countries and cultures disagree about that ideal.
As intellectual property law has been more or less standardized among developed nations, the result has been a benefit for those with monetary interests in tighter controls, not greater freedom for the average citizens.
It would seem that a similar scenario would play out in the arena of free expression were we to attempt such a standardization of free expression across the globe.
Journalists should fight efforts to curtail freedom of expression, whether through enhanced hate speech laws, defamation laws, or laws relating to prior restraint. While the fight to secure such rights has been long and hard in the U.S., the globalized environment we live in will require further vigilance to expand those ideals, and ensure U.S.-based journalists don’t end up on the wrong end of legal rulings around the world.
The Daily Eastern News online edition has been getting some pretty nasty comments lately about a pair of stories with some controversy surrounding the topic matter. As a result, the editor, online editor, and a host of us advisers have been knocking around a new comment policy to attach to the comments on dennews.com (scroll down to the bottom of this story to see the policy, right above the comments).
Even though there are a few comments that seem to draw fire, the existence of so many people wanting to comment on the stories suggests that people like to talk about the news. This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog.
But there are always legal worries, especially for newspapers that publish online editions. Today, a reminder has come in that the CDA Section 230 immunity for internet service providers still applies to comments. A Vermont judge dismissed a libel lawsuit against iBrattleboro for a comment left on the site.
This is a significant victory for community journalism sites, which often rely heavily on user-submitted content. Like many such sites, iBrattleboro edits and removes user comments in order to create “a forum for information-sharing, discussion and debate in a respectful and friendly atmosphere.” This is the quintessential activity that CDA 230 was meant to immunize, and courts have consistently held that these activities do not make an interactive computer service liable for defamatory material submitted by others that it does publish on its site.
The DEN takes down comments that are deemed offensive. Our students don’t pre-approve comments. For now, that seems the best approach.