Posts from June 2009.
Posted in Internet

Texas court has ruled that the Abilene Reporter-News does not have to reveal the identities of anonymous posters who submitted online commentary concerning a murder defendant to an Abilene newspaper’s website. According to the Reporter-News, the anonymous posters’ identities had been sought by the defendant’s attorney to ensure that none of the posters were selected to sit on the jury for the murder trial, which began on June 23. 

The Taylor County District Court’s decision to protect the posters’ identities, which was issued on July 19, is one of the early ... Read More 

Posted in FOIA

The Obama Administration has denied and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ("CREW") access to the names of White House visitors. The Obama Administration’s position on visitor logs is consistent with that of the Bush Administration—but appears to be inconsistent with President Obama’s promise of transparency and openness declared earlier this year. has the complete story, including its own FOIA request for the visitor logs, CREW’s related FOIA request, and a copy of the complaint filed by CREW on June 15, 2009, in the District ... Read More 

The Media Law Resource Center recently flagged this interesting study, by Professor RonNell Andersen Jones, due to be published soon in the Washington Law Review.  Professor Jones, a former newspaper reporter who has written widely on media law issues, undertook a large-scale survey of newspaper and broadcast reporters and editors to assess the impact that a surge in newsroom subpoenas is having on the media.  Her work is intended to be an update to Professor Vincent Blasi's landmark study of the same issue in 1971, just as the Branzburg cases were making their way to the Supreme Court.Read More 

Posted in Defamation

According to a recent story in the Raleigh News & Observer, a former Republican mayor of Raleigh, and current candidate for chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, Tom Fetzer, has sued a Wilmington radio station and disc jockey for defamation because the disc jockey forwarded an email to others that "insinuat[ed] that Fetzer is gay."  Fetzer's civil complaint can be read here.

As has been widely reported, there is a North Carolina Court of Appeals decision that would appear to make Fetzer's claim a legal long shot.  In Donovan v. Fiumara, 442 S.E.2d 524 (N.C. Ct. App. 1994), the ... Read More 

Posted in Miscellaneous

As a judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals since 1998 and for the Southern District of New York for the preceding six years, United States Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has approached First Amendment issues narrowly and contextually, demonstrating traditionally liberal views in some cases and more conservative views in others. If confirmed, it seems most likely that Sotomayor will side with the Court’s liberal wing on many First Amendment issues. However, her seeming unpredictability in cases involving free speech could make her an important swing vote in some ... Read More 

Posted in Defamation

In late February, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with a trial court ruling that a jury was entitled to decide whether calling the plaintiff a “gangster” and a “thug,” and alleging that he had been intoxicated at a convention, was indeed defamatory. In a Solomonic twist, however, the court nonetheless vacated the trial court’s judgment for the plaintiff because of reversible errors in the jury instructions.

The claim arose from a column in the Korean-language Inside the World newspaper, which opined that a prominent businessman in the ... Read More 

Posted in Internet

In a seemingly simple little case that has turned out to have all kinds of interesting and important twists, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit last month held that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act did not preclude a plaintiff from stating a valid claim for promissory estoppel against an Internet service provider.

The case, Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., arose in 2004 when Cecilia Barnes broke up with her long-term boyfriend, who responded by creating in Barnes’s name several Yahoo profiles that contained nude pictures of Barnes and various open ... Read More 


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