mediaLaw in


Digital Age

September 25,2010

Produced by Kennesaw State University’s Center for Sustainable Journalism and Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

This Conference is made possible in part by the generous support of the Harnisch Foundation.



Copyright: Using the Work of Others and Licensing Your Own Work  1. 2. 3. 4. Copyright Law and the Internet: Challenges of Today and Tomorrow  Unbundling Copyright Owner’s Rights in the Licensing of “Atomized” Content  The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices  All the News That’s Fit to Own: Hot News on the Internet & the Commodification of  News in Digital Culture  5. Hot News Misappropriation: Barclays v.  Exercising Your Right to Know: Getting Access to Government Information  1. Federal Open Records Law: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)  2. Georgia Open Records Laws  3. Comparison Between Florida and Georgia Public Records and Open Meetings Laws  Libel and Privacy: Minimizing the Risks of Publishing Online  1. Libel & Privacy: Minimizing the Risks of Publishing Online  2. Recent Developments: Defamation and Invasion of Privacy  Advertising Law for Online Publishers  1. Legal Topics in Advertising Law for Online Publishers  2. FTC Issues Final Guides on the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising  3. Some Online Advertising Law Lingo        Newsgathering Law: How to Stay Out of Trouble When You’re Gathering Information   for a Story  1. Newsgathering Law: How to Stay Out of Trouble When You’re Gathering Information  for a Story  2. Topics in Newsgathering Law  3. Update on the Free Flow of Information Act  4. State Shield Laws: An Overview  5. The Georgia Open Records Act – Caselaw Summary   

Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed, Have You? 

Safe Harbors: Building and Managing Online Communities  1. Recent Developments: Section 230, Communications Decency Act  2. Recent Developments: Online Anonymity  3. Recent Developments: Section 512, Digital Millennium Copyright Act  Starting an Independent News Organization: Business Law and Other Considerations  1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Starting an Independent News Organization: Business Law and Other Considerations  Legal Entity/Liability Considerations for a New Media Company  A Start‐up Independent News Organization’s Guide to Contributor Agreements  Other Considerations When Launching an Online Publishing Venture  The Newspaper Revitalization Act  Protecting Your Intellectual Property: Trademark and Copyright Basics   




COPYRIGHT LAW AND THE INTERNET:  CHALLENGES OF TODAY AND TOMORROW  CHRISTOPHER A. WIECH  Troutman Sanders LLP  600 Peachtree Street, NE Suite 5200  Atlanta, GA 30308‐2216   T:  404.885.3691  F: 404.962.6703  E:   

I. Introduction      How we use and disseminate information, thoughts, and ideas has changed dramatically over  the past 5‐10 years.  Traditional mediums – newspapers, books, magazines, encyclopedias, the  nightly news – have, to some extent, given way to the Internet – blogs, YouTube, Facebook,  Twitter, news websites – as society’s source for information and its preferred medium for the  expression of thoughts and ideas.  Indeed, the Internet is becoming ubiquitous – anyone can  access it from anywhere in the world with a mobile device or computer and a network  connection.  Compared with traditional mediums, information on the Internet is also more  easily published, distributed, updated, modified, and shared.  Content on one webpage can be  cut and copied to another webpage, and then another, in an instant, which makes it difficult to  keep track of who actually owns the content we view and use.        Given these realities of the Internet, most people naively assume that just about everything on  the web is free, unprotected, and theirs to use without limitation.  Is this good or bad?  Does  the Internet encourage innovation and sharing, or does it stifle creativity?  On one hand, the  Internet encourages the free flow of thoughts and ideas.  Take Wikipedia, for example, which  aggregates the collective knowledge of anonymous users from around the world, without  regard to who owns what.  But, on the other hand, the Internet is an emerging commercial  marketplace, where ownership and revenues really do matter; and the stakes are high because  of the potential revenue associated with the relative ease of distributing content to millions of  users.  So, how do we balance free use with protection of ownership?  It’s not easy.   Particularly, in the world of copyrights, the Internet poses many challenges.              Despite Congress’ attempt to keep pace with the Internet by enacting the Digital Millennium  Copyright Act (“DMCA”),  which sought to extend federal copyright protection to Internet  content, there is still much confusion over how to treat content on the Internet.  Traditional  copyright laws are not well tailored to Internet content, leaving the courts to interpret and  apply the law as best they can, which isn’t always consistent.  For now, in light of such  uncertainty over how copyright law will evolve with the Internet, the best practice – whether  you’re using someone else’s content on the Internet or you’re the owner of content – is to stay  aware.  Stay aware of the content you use; stay aware of your content and how it’s being used;  and stay aware of the law as it evolves.  For all you know, you may be pirating someone else’s 


copyright‐protected work or your copyright‐protected work may be being pirated right under  your nose.      The purpose of this article is to promote a basic awareness of the legal issues pertaining to how  we use and disseminate copyright‐protected information on the Internet, beginning with what  constitutes copyright infringement (Section II), monetary relief for acts of infringement (Section  III), and ways to avoid liability (Sections IV, V, and VI).       II. Breaking the law:  what you need to know about copyright infringement      A copyright owner has the exclusive right to reproduce his or her copyrighted work;  to prepare  derivate works based on the copyrighted work;  distribute copies of the work to the public (sell  rights, lease, etc.);  and publicly perform or display the work, including posting photographs or  streaming music or video on the Internet.         These exclusive rights can be infringed directly or indirectly.  Direct infringement can by shown  (1) with direct evidence of copying – or, at least, by showing that the infringer had access to the  copyrighted work – and (2) substantial similarity between the copyrighted work and the  infringing work.  In the context of the Internet, courts have required some kind of direct  volitional act in order to find direct infringement.  Direct infringement can be pretty black‐and‐ white, but indirect infringement has many shades of gray.  As a result, it’s much easier to fall  victim to, or be a victim of, indirect infringement.        Indirect infringement, at the outset, requires an underlying act of direct infringement.  And  indirect infringement can be contributory or vicarious.  Contributory infringement is shown  where the user (1) has actual or constructive knowledge – meaning they knew or should have  known – of the direct infringement, and (2) the user contributed to or inducted the direct  infringement by, for example, advertising or promoting the infringing work.  The standards for  contributory infringement have evolved with two U.S. Supreme Court cases:  Sony Corp. v.  Universal City Studios, Inc., in which the Supreme Court established that selling a product with  substantially non‐infringing use is not contributory infringement;  and MGM Studios, Inc. v.  Grokster, Ltd.,  in which the Supreme Court held that distributing a product with infringing and  non‐infringing uses may nevertheless still constitute infringement if the promotion of the  product and its ultimate use is infringing.  Ask yourself, is the primary objective of your website  to encourage others to infringe copyright‐protected work?  If so, you could be liable for  contributory infringement.          Finally, vicarious infringement occurs when the vicarious infringer has (1) a financial interest in  the infringing activity, which can be shown by examining its business model, and (2) the right or  ability to control the direct infringer.  Consider, for example, YouTube.  Thousands of users post  video content on YouTube each day.  YouTube has a financial interest in its users doing so – it’s  what attracts users to its site and thus attracts advertising revenue.  Moreover, YouTube has  the ability to control what content is posted on its site.  So, when a user knowingly and without  authorization posts a copyrighted video on YouTube, YouTube can be vicariously liable for that 


act.  Fortunate for YouTube and other websites like it, Congress has made life easier with safe  harbors under the DMCA, which are discussed below in Section IV.    III. Paying the piper for breaking the law      Copyright owners whose works have been infringed are entitled to recover actual damages or  statutory damages and/or injunctive relief from infringers.  Actual damages are your actual  losses resulting from infringement (e.g., lost profits), which can be difficult to prove, and the  reason why most copyright owners seek statutory damages, which are an amount of damages  prescribed by the federal Copyright Act.  The Act allows for statutory damages of $750‐30,000  for each instance of infringement, and the court has discretion to reduce (down to $200) or  raise (up to $150,000) that amount depending on whether the infringement was innocent or  willful.         Moreover, because digital media on the Internet is so easily uploaded and frequently shared,  the potential for a massive statutory damages award exists.  To put this in perspective, Viacom  International, the multimedia conglomerate, which owns countless copyrights, has sued  YouTube, alleging infringement of at least 150,000 video clips.   Statutory damages in that case,  at a minimum, would be $112.5 million (i.e., $750 x 150,000), and that doesn’t account for  multiple instances of infringement.  That’s why Viacom is seeking over $1 billion in damages.   On a lesser scale – one you and I might better appreciate – a jury in Massachusetts awarded  Sony statutory damages of $675,000 against a graduate student for willful infringement of  songs – at $22,500 per song.   Depending on where you stand – content user or content owner  – this may seem harsh or not harsh enough.        IV. Congress tries to strike a balance:  the DMCA      Undoubtedly, the Internet is the unknown frontier when it comes to copyrights.  What makes  the Internet superior over traditional mediums (e.g., books, movies) – the relative ease with  which copyrighted content can be inexpensively distributed to millions – also makes it riskier –  acts of infringement are much grayer and, if found liable, staggering damages awards are  possible because of the relative ease of distribution.  To balance these benefits and risks,  Congress enacted the DMCA in 1998 to give “greater certainty to [Internet] service providers  concerning their legal exposure for infringements that may occur in the course of their  activities.”   A “service provider” is “an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of  connections for digital online communications, between or among points specified by a user, of  material of the user’s choosing, without modification to the content of the material as sent or  received,” including “a provider of online services or network access, or the operator of  facilities therefor.”   For example, Comcast, Google, and even some blogs qualify as “service  providers” under the DMCA.           In particular, the DMCA provides safe harbor from liability resulting from various activity on the  Internet:    •  acting as a conduit for transmission of infringing content;    

 such as a website or blog.         For user‐generated content.g. we all had to agree to  Facebook’s terms and conditions before we could create our profiles. the service  provider must notify the user whose content has been removed or disabled. terms and conditions that require  affirmative acceptance by the user – e. nor can it turn a blind eye to red flags indicating possible infringement.       Reasonably implementing a policy typically requires some form of monitoring your website site  to ensure infringing activity is not taking place.  Notably.         4    . service providers must accommodate.. sub‐licensable. nor is infringing content being added to the site.  For example.  or   •  referring or linking users to an online location containing infringing material or infringing  activity (e. the service provider must   adopt and reasonably implement. set out the website’s right and discretion  to remove content or use content added to it by users.  If  you remove or alter the CMI on a work. knowledge.       To be eligible for safe harbor protection under the DMCA. we all  granted Facebook “a non‐exclusive. and in doing so.   Once the service provider is aware of the infringing activity – typically. clicking “I accept these terms and conditions” – are  more easily enforced than terms and conditions that are simply posted somewhere on the site.  All copyright‐protected works should  contain some type of identifier that alerts the user as to the author or owner of the work.g. regardless of any intellectual property  ownership rights we may have in what we post..   Commercially available filtering software can be used to identify infringing material as well as  repeat infringing users.  •  temporary storage of infringing content for purposes of improving network efficiencies. or even suspicion that the content is infringing. worldwide  license” to use anything we post on Facebook.   The user then  may counter‐notify the service provider that its content has been removed or disabled by  mistake. the service provider must  not have actual knowledge that its systems or networks contain infringing material or infringing  activity is occurring. a policy that provides for termination in  appropriate circumstances of users who are repeat infringers. the most common way to protect yourself as a service provider is to  require your users to accept your terms and conditions as a prerequisite to using your website. transferable. upon receiving notice  from the copyright owner – the service provider must act expeditiously to remove the infringing  content or disable access to it. if the service provider does actually remove content  based on notice.   This is  known as copyright management information (“CMI”).        In adopting a policy. royalty‐free.   •  providing server space for an infringer’s content. and not interfere with.        In addition. the service provider must put the content back up within 10‐14 days  unless the copyright owner initiates legal action against the user. search engines). in which case. and inform users of. in addition to the requirements above.   The terms and conditions should. standard technical  measures used by copyright owners to identify or protect their copyrighted works. the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions won’t apply to you. among other things.  However.

 the service provider cannot receive a direct financial benefit from infringing activity that it  has the right or ability to control. itself.  Without reference to the original work. whereas redistributive use – essentially repeating all or portions of the original work for  the same intended purpose or use – is not as likely to be considered fair use.  The Copyright Act.      Maybe you’re not a “service provider” and therefore not entitled to the safe harbor provisions  under the DMCA. the service provider could  remain stuck in the middle based on potentially liability as an indirect infringer.  A parody is a work that pokes fun at or  criticizes another work.  the service provider is usually stuck in the middle.  In addition.  Last. without adding to or altering its original purpose.  But.  Obviously. as well as treatises.  A colleague once said. and can vary greatly  depending on the circumstances. the parody wouldn’t be  5    . best sums up the law on fair use. it’s too late because the work has already been  used without permission. sets out factors to aid in  determining whether use of a copyrighted work is fair. are more likely to qualify as fair use than  are commercial uses. is not fair  use. the service provider can extricate itself from  the fight.  Now. What’s fair is fair – the fair use defense to copyright infringement. the most widely used and most widely litigated defense to copyright  infringement is fair use. regardless of  whether the content infringed. the  commentary or criticism is.   This is important because if use is fair. and still not have a clear  understanding.        V. about what is and is not fair use.  That’s because the fair use defense is fact‐specific.  You can read countless court  opinions. though. and sometimes. and won’t be on the hook for damages.”    That statement. “Everything is fair use.   That’s not always possible.   In a fight between the copyright owner and alleged infringer.       Why be bothered with all of this?  By following these procedures under the DMCA. or the DMCA doesn’t apply to your circumstances?  In that case. such as for education or journalism. traditional  copyright law principles will apply. perhaps.      Parodies are a much discussed example of fair use. the best way to avoid liability for copyright  infringement is to obtain permission from the copyright owner to use its copyrighted work. by  following the simple procedures set forth above. and nothing is fair use. the copyright owner and user can  both be liable to the service provider for misrepresenting whether content is protected.  This first factor considers how the copyrighted work is being used. the  service provider can immunize itself from liability for posting or removing content.  copying portions of a copyrighted material for purposes of providing commentary or criticism  on it – a lot of what bloggers do – is generally transformative use because the copyrighted  material is being used for a different purpose than its original purpose.  Moreover. transformative use – use that adds something new to the  original content or alters the character or use of the work – is more likely to be considered fair  use.          Permission aside.  For example.  Before the DMCA.  there is no infringement – direct or indirect.   Moreover. a new expression of thought. simply verbatim copying of  all or a portion of copyrighted work.  Socially  desirable uses.                Nature of the use.

 in Barclays Capital Inc. musicians and composers sued AT&T for copyright  infringement for AT&T’s use of ringtone previews on its website.”  Just last March. a long‐standing principle of copyright law is that facts are in the  public  But.  However. it did not matter that each ringtone preview was only 10‐30  seconds long because these short snippets captured the heart of each song. which was first recognized by the U. even copying a small  portion of a work. but also whether similar use (by others) would substantially and adversely impact the  potential market for the copyrighted work or derivative works.        “Hot news” misappropriation is a tort claim. was found liable for misappropriation by a federal court in  New York. that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free from  liability for using them. and Publishers. A factual wrinkle:  “hot news” misappropriation      Fair use comes into play when the subject work being used is copyrighted. but the court ruled against it.  Finally. Flyonthewall.   The court found that this particular  news aggregator was engaging in “free‐riding activity that is directly competitive with the [Wall  6    .   Wholesale verbatim copying is typically considered not fair use. Flyonethewall. an  Internet‐based financial news website which aggregates and publishes stock recommendations  taken from various Wall Street firms.  The court found that AT&T’s use of the  ringtone previews was not transformative. as well as link to. other websites rely on this principle that facts  are free.  But the incorporation of the original work into the parody is permissible – it is  fair use – because the parody transforms the original work. that  protects information conveyed as “breaking news. AT&T’s use  impeded the market for licensing ringtone previews because AT&T used the ringtones for more  than promotional purposes.        Market effect.  understandable.        A good example of these factors at work is United States v. however.  Websites.   In that case.  This last factor gives great weight to how the use affects the market for the  copyrighted work. that aggregate news  headlines and excerpts from. while facts may be free.  Is it fact or fiction?  Is the work published or unpublished?  Taking from  factual works and published works is more likely to qualify as fair use. because AT&T  used the previews to attract visitors to its site to facilitate ringtone sales and to attract third‐ party advertising.        Nature of copyrighted work.  Authors.  Indeed.          Amount of work copied. may not be  fair use either. like Google News and the Drudge Report. but rather for a commercial purpose.  AT&T defended on the  grounds of fair use.        VI. Supreme  Court in 1918 and is recently gaining popularity among news‐reporting organizations.  This second factor looks at the degree of creativity in the  copyrighted material. v. American Society of Composers.S.  Courts consider not only the market effect of the particular user’s use of the  material. if that small portion captures essentially the heart of the work.  cannot be copyrighted.  Facts.  This factor considers the quantity and quality of the work used.

 which .”          However.”       The distinction. . therefore.        For content users:   • Consider the content itself – does it contain any CMI (copyright management  information) signaling that it is copyright protected.     On their surface. they cannot protect these recommendations under the ‘hot news’  misappropriation theory. is it the type of content that  could be subject to copyright protects. distribute.  hot news misappropriation is also a highly factually dependent. . and generating certain "non‐ original" material. or display "original" material while the "hot  news" misappropriation theory protects an individual's exclusive right to profit or otherwise  benefit from the labor expended in discovering. Barclays and Agora both involved use of another’s financial investment advice. though. even facts aren’t safe anymore.  Street] Firms’ production of time‐sensitive information. but instead an ‘original’ work. . are sure  to follow. thereby threatening their incentive to  continue in the business.        With the advent of news aggregator websites and original source news‐reporting websites  starting to charge subscriber fees for full access. “[A] recommendation to invest in a company is not a  fact.  Perhaps. puts you ahead of the curve.  The court noted.  but each had a different outcome on whether the content at issue was subject to copyright law  or the tort claim of hot news misappropriation.        VII. simply being able to spot potential pitfalls with using and  distributing content. Samler.  What is for sure. While  plaintiffs may be able to protect their ‘original’ investment recommendations under federal  copyright law. Parting Suggestions      When dealing with the Internet. in that case. like creative work as opposed to facts (if  facts. are they time‐sensitive?)  • Pay attention to the source of the content you’re using – are you taking content  that’s already been infringed?  • Consider your use of the content – is it infringing or fair use?  Should you obtain  permission to use from the copyright owner?     7    .  Awareness is the key. Agora Financial. . LLC v. whether grounded on copyright  infringement or hot news misappropriation (in those states that recognize the claim). gathering.’ . the court found that the financial  investment recommendations at issue were not “hot news. such as factual information. there is no bright‐line rule. like infringement and fair use. perform. entails ‘judgment’ and ‘creativity.” but more likely subject to  copyright protections. between the rights protected under a copyright infringement claim  and a "hot news" misappropriation claim is that copyright law protects a copyright holder's  exclusive right to reproduce.  Just be aware of what’s being used and  how it’s used. more lawsuits.

  • Enforce your rights – send cease and desist letters to infringers. if you’ve met its requirements. and resort to litigation or alternative forms of dispute resolution. use of your content by others on the Internet.    For content owners:  • Identify your ownership of your content – make sure it contains CMI.  • Rely on notice‐and‐take down provisions of DMCA. and are  thus entitled to its safe harbors from monetary liability. require licenses to  use your content. if  necessary.  Consider whether the DMCA applies to you.  • Monitor.    • 8    . to the extent possible.

 give rise to atomized content such  as excerpts.         Under Section 106 of the U. feeds.  Further.   Depending on. NE  Atlanta.C.S. such as books. Suite 4100  600 Peachtree Street. and motion pictures and other audiovisual works. multimedia works.     (5)   in the case of literary. and     (6)   in the case of sound recordings. §106) a copyright owner’s  primary bundle of rights  includes the exclusive right to do and to authorize any of the  following:      (1)   to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords. license fees for use of the original work may be very  different than for use and distribution of the atomized content. Georgia 30308  T: (404) 888‐4040  F: (404) 602‐8850  E: ehanson@hunton.       pantomimes. and samplings. audiovisual clips.  Because copyright protection  extends to such atomized content. and choreographic works.     (2)   to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work. to perform       the copyrighted work publicly. to perform the copyrighted work publicly  1    . and choreographic works.       pantomimes. to display       the copyrighted work publicly. musical.S. graphic. images. and pictorial.           Often the licensors’ and licensees’ needs for use and copying of atomized works is  different from the licensing considerations for the use of the original digital parent works. a digital content owners’ copyright licensing options multiply  beyond a basic license of an owner’s bundle of rights in an original work to a licensee. the copyright owner’s bundle of rights may be  unbundled and licensed under content and distribution specific terms to meet the copyright  owners’ and licensees’ needs. what atomized content is to be used. the various distribution  interfaces and scope of permitted redistribution. HANSON  Hunton & Williams LLP  Bank of America Plaza. or by rental.”   As demand grows for quickly digestible digital content “nuggets. and audiovisual compositions. dramatic. including the       individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work. musical.     (3)   to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public       by sale or other transfer of ownership. or sculptural works. for example. dramatic. lease. software  programs. articles. Copyright Act (17 U.     (4)   in the case of literary. or lending.    UNBUNDLING COPYRIGHT OWNERS’ RIGHTS IN THE LICENSING OF “ATOMIZED” CONTENT  ERIC J.   Original “parent” works. content       Opportunities for creating and consuming licensed digital content are virtually limitless  in today’s “app economy.”  digital works are increasingly “atomized” into extracted works for license and distribution to a  variety of uses.

   Each product review includes. television.  In an author ownership scenario.  such as other review and retail web sites.  Such basic “bundled”  transfers might occur as “work for hire” employment or the authors’ individual license  contracts with WebZine. a web‐based magazine “WebZine” might provide a collection of reviews  for various home theater products on its website. feeds.  the author‐licensors might grant certain rights to WebZine regarding use of the full review on  the WebZine site while reserving rights to atomize and license content themselves. for example. device apps. video platforms. require attribution and establish  limits on how content may be repurposed.  a digital article with text expressing the author’s evaluation and opinion of a device together  with review photographs and videos. image platforms and other distribution interfaces.   A typical article might therefore be a joint work of  authorship of a technical review writer and the photographer/videographer. require tracking of content use. WebZine might also  syndicate atomized content.  If the parties only  consider the basic end‐use of the entire review article on WebZine’s website through the  interface of an Internet browser. each WebZine review has the potential to be atomized and licensed for  distribution of the atomized content by the authors. product video and  text excerpts from the review.  WebZine would consider the unbundling of its  copyright rights with respect to atomized content and what uses will be licensed to potential  licensees.   The valuable copyrighted atomized content may include product images. mobile device and social network “apps” to embedded web page  media and text feeds.        If the authors have already transferred all of their copyright interests to WebZine. particular  distribution channels and for third party downstream sublicense rights.         For example.       However. such as under an existing employment relationship or contract.      by means of a digital audio transmission.  WebZine might establish different content license fees for particular uses.  the authors remain individual owners and licensors for determining the licensing of their bundle  of rights as to both the entire work and to atomized content. copyright licensors must consider how this bundle of rights might be licensed for  their atomized content works in comparison to the original works.  The author‐ licensors might also grant exclusive rights to WebZine in both the full work and atomized  2    .  Individually or in selectable combinations such atomized  content may be specifically licensed for digital consumption to a variety of third party uses. WebZine and/or third parties to many  other digital content interfaces beyond WebZine’s web pages including only the full review.     From computer. given the increasing number of possible interfaces from which atomized  content is served and re‐served to both end users and by third party digital content  distributors. comparison  interfaces.  WebZine is the owner and licensor to structure potential licensing relationships of both the full  work and these potential atomized works. dashboard widgets. the parties might contemplate only a simple transfer of the  authors’ entire bundle of rights by assignment or license to WebZine.      If the authors have not transferred their copyright ownership interests by assignment or  exclusive license to WebZine.

         Further. owner branding. website link or required  notices required in connection with copied uses?  • Is sublicensing of reproduction rights from licensee to other licensees permitted?  • If sublicensing is permitted. but establish different license fees applicable to different uses by WebZine in  downstream licensing of the atomized content.  content. is content and license tracking required to monitor  locations and uses of copied atomized content?  • Are there restrictions on the digital environment and context in which copied  content will be used?  • In what digital and non‐digital media is reproduction of the content permitted?  • Will the copyright owner have audit rights to confirm the licensee’s copying and the  copying by sublicensees to determine applicable license fees and compliance with  license terms?  • Are there restrictions on where licensed content resides and where it is reproduced  for display and other licensed uses?  o Copyright owner’s servers?  o Licensee’s servers?  3    . non‐commercial uses or those permitted to copy?  • Are licensed reproduction rights exclusive or non‐exclusive as to particular content. depending on the specific atomized content. a particular author or authors of certain atomized content may  have specific owner and licensor rights apart from the author(s) of other atomized content in  the original work.  Such monetization strategies might include the  authors attempting to establish an appropriate schedule of fees applicable to atomized content  based on WebZine’s potential sublicensed distribution channels. such as atomized text.  the authors might provide WebZine with general sublicense rights subject to a requirement of  establishing license rates as WebZine’s sublicense opportunities arise. or alternatively. atomized  images and atomized video.  some of the many considerations relating to licensing and unbundling of Section 106 rights  under the hypothetical example may include:    Right to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords  • What portions may or may not be copied as atomized content?  • In what forms and to what distribution interfaces can the content be reproduced?  • Are there limits on the number of copies or how much copying is permitted?  • What license fees are applicable to particular content.  copiers and distribution channels?  • How long is a copier granted the reproduction right as to particular content?  • Is attribution of copyright ownership.  commercial uses.  In addition.      Whether WebZine or an author is a copyright owner and licensor of atomized content.  Different copyright owners of different atomized content might therefore  have different license considerations and establish different agreements for their individual  rights applicable to particular licensed content. copiers  (commercial/personal) and form and use of copied content?  • Are there limitations on copying with respect to certain distribution channels.

 instructional)?  o Content to be publicly performed in commercial environment (e.    Right to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work   • Any restrictions on how atomized content may be incorporated to create new  content?  • Does the incorporation of licensed atomized content create any license‐back rights  to the licensor in the licensee’s derivative work including the atomized content?  • Does the incorporation of licensed atomized content create any licenses right to  third parties (including other third party licensees of the atomized content) in a  licensee’s derivative work including the atomized content?  • Does the right to create different types of derivative works with the licensed content  represent different license fees?  • In what digital and non‐digital media may derivative works be created?  • Who is granted the right to create derivative works and may the right be  sublicensed?    Right to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or  other transfer of ownership. lease. and choreographic  works. including the individual images  of a motion picture or other audiovisual work  • Apart from terms governing making copies of content. or by rental. are further license terms to  be applicable to publicly performing authorized copy of atomized content?  o Content. musical. and choreographic  works. musical. or lending  • What licensees and sublicensees are granted distribution rights to the atomized  content?  • What monetization rights (such as digital sales.g. such as audiovisual clips. rentals. dramatic. dramatic. syndication. trade show. or sculptural works. and motion pictures and other audiovisual works  • Apart from terms governing making copies of content. to be publicly performed in transmission to an  audience (e. and pictorial.g. pantomimes. retail home  theater store publicly performing an authorized copy of an audiovisual clip from  a review for customers)  • Are specific license fees applicable to licensing a public performance right?    Right to display the copyrighted work publicly ‐‐ literary. pantomimes. graphic. subscriptions.  etc.) are granted to licensees?  • Is particular atomized content subject to different distribution rights than other  atomized content?  • Are different license fees applicable to obtaining a license of distribution rights  compared to copying rights for a licensee’s end use?    Right to perform the copyrighted work publicly ‐‐ literary. are further license terms to  be applicable to publicly displaying an authorized copy of atomized content?  4    o Downloadable?  .

 instructional)?  o Content to be publicly displayed in commercial environment (e. Internet broadcast)?  o Sound recording audio to be publicly played in commercial environment (e.g. to be publicly displayed in transmission to  an audience (e. such as digital image or text.g. are further license terms to  be applicable to public performance of audio atomized content that is digitally  transmitted?  o Sound recording audio to be played publicly by digital transmission transmitted  to an audience (e.  retail home theater store publicly playing an authorized copy of an audio clip  from a review to customers)    Are specific license fees applicable to licensing a public performance of audio content digitally  transmitted?    o Content. trade show. retail home  theater store publicly displaying an authorized copy of text or image content  from a review to customers)  Are specific license fees applicable to licensing a public display right?  5    .g.  •   Right to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission ‐‐  sound recordings  • Apart from terms governing making copies of content.g.

THE RISE OF THE NEWS AGGREGATOR: Legal Implications and Best Practices By Kimberley Isbell and the Citizen Media Law Project .

including News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch and Associated Press Chairman Dean Singleton.”3 As the traditional media are quick to point out.1 This increased reliance on the Internet as a source of news has coincided with declining profits in the traditional media and the shuttering of newsrooms in communities across the country.4 billion in 2008 alone. Revenues generated from online advertising totaled $23. as of January 2010. have seized upon is the rise of the news aggregator. the Internet has become an important news source for most Americans.During the past decade. According to a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.2 Some commentators look at this confluence of events and assert that. or incorporating content from multiple websites into one single third-party site. Rupert Murdoch has gone so far as to call Google’s aggregation and display of newspaper headlines and ledes “theft. it’s news aggregators that are generating a lot of Page 1 . To   aggregate stories is not fair use. in this case. One explanation for the decline of the traditional media that some. According to this theory. Chairman and     Chief Executive of News Corporation     December 1. it is theft.5 There’s also in-line linking. 2009  nearly 61% of Americans got at least some content isn’t merely an academic question Building a business model around monetizing another website’s content isn’t novel. or superimposing ads onto embeded websites. Consider the practice of framing. We   invest tremendous resources in our project  from technology to our salaries. the legality of a business model built around the monetization of third-party – it’s big business.6 These days. reselling and profiting from the factual information gathered by traditional media organizations at great cost.4 Producing journalism is expensive. news aggregators from Google News to The Huffington Post are freeriding. and methods for doing so have been around for almost as long as the Internet has been a commercial platform. To be   impolite. of their news online in a typical day. correlation equals causation – the Internet is harming the news business.     —   Rupert Murdoch.

  Page 2 . unless we take into consideration the relevant For the purposes of our discussion. But are they legal? news aggregators take many forms. a “Feed Aggregator” is closest to the traditional conception of a news   aggregator. although some Feed Aggregators will contain   content from more than one  type of source. we will group news aggregators into four categories: Feed Aggregators. namely.   Feed Aggregators generally   display the headline of a  story. such as news websites or blogs.  Some well  known examples are Yahoo!  News (and its sister site. My  Yahoo!) and Google News.  The  name of the originating   website is often listed. a news aggregator is a website that takes information from multiple sources and displays it in a single place. or story.7 While the concept is simple in theory. and Blog Aggregators. we should differences among the various models. User-Curated Aggregators.  Feed Aggregators often draw their material from a  particular type of source.scrutiny. in practice FEED AGGREGATORS  implicated by news aggregators. as  well. For this reason. with a link to where the  rest of the story appears on  the original website. topic. a website that contains material from a number of websites organized into various  “feeds. At its most basic.8 WHAT IS A NEWS AGGREGATOR? Before tackling the legal questions first define the term. Specialty Aggregators. any attempt to talk about the legal issues surrounding “news aggregation” is bound to fail. and sometimes the  first few lines of the story’s  lede.” typically arranged by source. As used in this discussion.

  addressed the question of whether their activities are legal. Specialty   Aggregators are more   limited in focus and typically  cover just a few topics or  sources. Page 3 . Only a small number of lawsuits have been brought against news aggregators. which  cover many topics. a  “Specialty Aggregator” is a website that   collects information from a number of sources  on a particular topic or location.    Like Feed Aggregators. and all of them have settled before a final decision on the merits.CAN THEY DO THAT? For all of the attention that news aggregators have received.  Unlike  Feed Aggregators.  Examples of   Specialty Aggregators are hyper‐local websites  like Everyblock and Outside.In and websites  that aggregate information about a particular  topic like Techmeme and Taegan Goddard’s  Political Wire.   Specialty Aggregators   typically display the   headline of a story. no case in the United States has yet definitively SPECIALTY AGGREGATORS  For the purposes of this white paper. and   occasionally the first few  lines of the lede with a link  to the rest of the story.  along with the name of the  website on which the story  originally appeared.

Before trying to answer the question of the search prowess to crawl through legality of news aggregators under U. Google let’s take a closer look at the cases that have been brought to see what arguments both sides of the debate are making. as the service would be called. thousands of online media sources.  Often. the links on  a User‐Curated Aggrega‐ tor will be culled from a  wider   variety of sources than  most news   aggregators. and accompanying photo of articles published by the different news providers accessed by Google’s news crawler.    Page 4 News. GOOGLE NEWS While still a young company relying on private capital. as well  as links to more   traditional media  sources.10 Google also provided a link to website from which the story was accessed. aggregator in 2002 that was intended as a the original story as it appeared on the . At the time AFP filed suit. Google launched a news companion to its increasingly popular search engine. featured various news stories published over the past 30 days. and will   often include links to  blog posts and   multimedia content like  YouTube videos.9 Using Google’s Internet USER‐CURATED AGGREGATORS  A “User‐Curated Aggregator” is a website that features user‐submitted links and portions of text taken  from a variety of web‐ sites. law. AFP V.S. Google News displayed the headline. lede.

 all with links back to the original articles.  Elsewhere. AP articles  hosted on the Huffington Post website.  In linking to content  on third party websites.   Another popular Blog Aggregator is the Huffington  Post. with a link to the original article. the final category. and articles  hosted on third‐party websites.  Yet other posts  are composed of short excerpts or summaries from a number of   articles strung together. and other times will  use a headline written by Huffington Post editors. which likewise uses third‐party content in a   number of different ways. synthesizing   information from a number of sources into a single  story (occasionally.” looks the least like a traditional news  aggregator. the Huffington Post some‐ times uses the original headline. and also   illustrate the different forms that the use of third‐party  content can take on these sites. but not always. at the end.BLOG AGGREGATORS  Of the four types of news aggregators discussed in this  paper. including original articles   authored by Huffington Post writers. the front  pages of which typically feature links to a mixture of  different types of content.  One method of using  third‐party content on Blog Aggregators is as raw   material for blogger‐written content. or both.  Blog Aggregators are websites that use  third‐party content to create a blog about a given  topic.  The Huffington Post   website is organized into several sections. a post  may consist of a two to three sentence summary of an article from a  third‐party source. Page 5 . what we’re calling “Blog   Aggregators.  The Gawker media sites are perhaps one of the  best known examples of Blog Aggregators. incorporating quotes from the original articles) and linking to the   original content in the article.

Google News was infringing their copyrights and stealing their product. On its website. of AFP’s copyright management information. instead. AFP and Google settled the case. they license their content to other news providers.”16 According to the AP’s AFP’s claims by filing two separate motions stories found on the internet or rewrite[e] Page 6 . but displayed on third-party websites.11 Wire services like the AFP generally do not distribute news freely on their own websites as do many newspapers. All Headline News “ha [d] no reporters. based on AFP’s failure to identify with particularity all of those and the second.12 Google responded to to dismiss: the first. however.15 ASSOCIATED PRESS V.Many of the articles that appeared in Google News were written by wire services The Associated Press. a claim for removal or alteration service. and a claim for “hot news” misappropriation. All Headline News described itself as a “global news agency and content complaint.13 and ledes. According to AFP. The Amended Complaint asserted claims against Google for copyright infringement in AFP’s photos. headlines. All Headline News. ALL HEADLINE NEWS Almost three years later. the headline. DC in 2005. then. and the only parties that were authorized to publish them were those that paid licensing fees. including news stories and photographs. on Google News and on other Google services. such as local newspapers.” and instead prepared its content by having employees “copy[] news such as Agence France Presse (“AFP”) and works it alleged Google to have infringed. a partial motion to dismiss AFP’s claim for copyright infringement of AFP’s headlines.14 After nearly two years of litigation and extensive discovery. AFP filed a lawsuit against Google in federal district court in Washington. even in an abbreviated form. the Associated Press (“AP”) filed a lawsuit against another news aggregator. AFP claimed. on the grounds that the headlines constituted uncopyrightable subject matter. entering into a licensing deal granting Google the right to post AFP content. lede and photo displayed by Google News was licensed content. By providing this content.

false advertising. One of the more recent news aggregation cases pitted two traditional media Media.25 The court denied Page 7 . unfair competition.17 The AP asserted claims companies against each other. NEW YORK TIMES CO.such stories.” All Headline News then repackaged and sold this content to clients that included newspapers. claimed that The New York Times Co. and breach of contract (for failure to comply with the provisions of the Creative Commons license under which the Wicked Local content was distributed). Under the settlement agreement.19 Nearly a year later. trademark infringement. parties settled. trademark dilution. including hot news GATEHOUSE MEDIA V.24 of news content. GateHouse dismiss most of the AP’s claims. All Headline News agreed to cease using AP content and paid an unspecified sum “to settle the AP’s claim and news content. websites. for copyright infringement. and other redistributors against All Headline News for “hot news” misappropriation.23 GateHouse’s Complaint Times Co. trademark infringement. unfair competition. and breach of contract. the Concurrently with filing the Complaint. from using content from the GateHouse’s motion for a restraining order for past unauthorized use of AP expression Wicked Local websites. but retained the remaining claims against All Headline News. copyright infringement. except the asserted claims against The New York misappropriation. the Southern District of New York issued an order granting in part and denying in part All Headline News’ motion. copied the headlines and ledes from GateHouse’s Wicked Local websites as part of its own local news aggregation effort on the Boston.21 Four months later.20 The court dismissed the AP’s trademark infringement claims.”22 GateHouse filed a motion requesting a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction prohibiting The New York Times Co. Internet web portals.18 All Headline News filed a partial motion to claim for copyright infringement. which at the time operated more than 375 local newspapers and their respective website. removal or alteration of copyright management information.

S. copyright law.. a work is protected if it (1) is an original work of authorship. Moreover. To be protected by copyright.28 With certain exceptions. this does not end the inquiry. the ledes) do not qualify for copyright protection. both independently created by the author and minimally creative). copyright law.29 While most news articles meet the second prong of the copyrightability test.31 It is also a generally accepted proposition of U.30 Under U. is recorded or embodied in some manner for more than a transitory duration). or publicly performing or displaying the work. ideas and facts cannot be copyrighted.S. a headline is an uncopyrightable title or short phrase.e. the argument goes. and (2) is fixed in a tangible medium of expression that can be read directly or with the aid of a machine or device (i. the owner of a copyrighted work has the right to prohibit others from reproducing.and consolidated the motion for a preliminary injunction with an expedited trial on the merits.26 The parties settled on the eve of trial. among other things.32 These last two propositions are cited by many news aggregators to claim that the headlines of news stories (and. According to this argument. the material copied by the news aggregator also needs to be original (i. to remove the others’ RSS feeds from their websites. with both sides agreeing. and thus the reproduction of this material on a news aggregator’s website does not constitute copyright infringement. there are two doctrines that need to be considered when attempting to determine whether news aggregation is legal: copyright and hot news misappropriation. less frequently.. Page 8 . COPYRIGHT Under U.27 distributing copies of. copyright law that titles and short phrases are not protected under copyright law.S. headlines are highly SO IS IT LEGAL? As the foregoing discussion illustrates. preparing derivative works from. but the way a person expresses those ideas or facts can be. We turn to each of these below.e.

(3) The While this argument has some appeal when directed at short. as the Inc. The merger doctrine denies protection to certain expressions of an idea (or set of facts) where the idea and its expression are so inseparable that prohibiting third parties from copying the expression would effectively grant the author protection of the underlying idea.36 This section will take them to the four categories of news Supreme Court noted in Feist Publications.. humble or obvious it might be. v. and (4) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. Page 9 . highly factual headlines.33 In its litigation against AFP.” they were nonetheless not entitled to copyright protection because they “generally seek to encapsulate the factual content of the story. and apply the level of creativity required for a work to aggregators previously discussed.” Google argued that.34 nature of the copyrighted work. Noting actionable if its use of the material fewer than 10 words. (2) The was separable from their factual content. sets forth four nonexclusive factors for FAIR USE extremely low — a work satisfies this requirement as long as it possesses some creative spark. such as the lede. Inc.” and did not Assuming that headlines and ledes are copyrightable subject matter. These factors include: (1) The purpose and character of the use. it becomes a harder argument to make when directed at text from the article. Google that AFP’s headlines “often consist of though they may be “painstakingly created. each of these factors in turn. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for asserted a variant of this argument.”35 contain protectable original expression that nonprofit educational purposes.factual and thus the merger doctrine would be “original” and thus protectable is prohibit copyright protection. “no matter how crude. For. Rural Telephone Service Co. The Copyright Act courts to consider when determining whether a use qualifies as a fair use.. a news aggregator’s reproduction of them is not qualifies as a fair use.

in Perfect Applied to Feed Aggregators.. The Aggregators. or infusing the content with a new original work into a new work.37 The not end the inquiry into the first fair use whether the use is commercial in nature. the first fair use factor cuts slightly in favor of a finding of fair use because of the transformative nature of the categorization and indexing functions performed by the Feed But. noting that “[the search factor. courts also look at whether the use is “transformative” — namely.39 repeatedly found that certain reproductions of copyrighted works by a search engine are a “transformative” use.THE PURPOSE AND CHARACTER OF THE USE. while a parody typically has the same entertainment purpose as the original work. The Ninth Circuit has first thing courts will consider when evaluating this factor whether the use is commercial in nature. cutting against a finding of fair use. it is worth noting. it is likely that a court would find the use to be commercial. either by repurposing the expression.”41 fact that the websites are commercial does transformative. does the new original work. Because most (but not all) news aggregators contain advertisements..”40 Likewise. meaning.” and observed that “a search engine may be more Applying the transformative test to the four transformative than a parody because a categories of news aggregators yields slightly different results. Inc. however. Arriba Soft Corp. or does it instead add something new. the court noted the content. namely. the Ninth Circuit found that the reproduction of thumbnails of plaintiff’s photographs in defendant’s search engine results was engine’s] use of the images serves a improving access to information on the internet versus artistic expression. significant public benefit provided by Google’s image search “by incorporating an electronic reference tool.38 In addition to looking at different function than [plaintiff’s] use — work merely serve as a replacement for the Amazon. the case for transformative use isn’t as strong for a news aggregation site as it was for a pure search engine provides an entirely new use of the original work. In Kelly v. or message. Inc v. an Page 10 .

(artistic/entertainment purposes for the original photographs versus an informational searching and indexing function for the search engine’s reproduction of the images). which is at least minimally transformative. In deciding whether the nature of the copyrighted work favors a finding of fair engine. categorizing those feeds and permitting searching of the feeds. User-Curated Aggregators often further the additional commentary on the posted stories. While the uses were clearly comparisons between sources covering a of a different nature in Kelly and Perfect 10 story that would not otherwise be possible. including.45 Blog Aggregators also often bring to the material a unique editorial voice or topic of focus. Specialty Aggregators have a narrower focus than material. a Feed Aggregator serves a similar function to a newspaper’s website — to collect and organize news stories so that they can be read by the public. courts look to a number of factors. further distinguishing the resulting use Similarly. In many cases. This feature enables the additional function of determining what stories are popular among a certain group of Internet users. Specialty Aggregators will have an even stronger argument that their use is transformative. providing readers with the benefit of collecting all (or most) of the reporting on a particular topic in one place. the the convenience of accessing stories from a large number of sources on one web page. User-Curated Aggregators can be viewed as somewhat more transformative than Feed Aggregators because users collect the stories. Blog Aggregators will have the strongest claim of a transformative use of the material because they often provide additional context or commentary alongside the material they use.43 Specialty Aggregators thus contribute something new and socially useful by providing context and enabling THE NATURE OF THE COPYRIGHTED WORK. “(1) whether the work is In many cases.42 Nonetheless.44 Feed Aggregator does provide its user with purpose of promoting community many of the websites from which they draw from the purpose of the original article. Page 11 .

Looked at perhaps the most hotly debated of the four from a quantitative perspective.expressive or creative. has fiction or fantasy. THE AMOUNT AND SUBSTANTIALITY OF THE PORTION USED IN RELATION TO THE COPYRIGHTED WORK AS A WHOLE. the fact that the work. the AP.48 Given the factual nature of this published stories would weigh in favor of a how courts would view all news In evaluating this factor. In other instances this will not be the case. and others would argue that a well-defined market Page 12 . The as well as a number of lower courts. and (2) whether the work is published or unpublished. however. found that the reproduction of even a short excerpt can weigh against a finding of fair use if the excerpt reproduces the “heart” of inquiry. they constitute the “heart” of the article.”46 Here. with the scope for fair use involving unpublished works being nature of the news articles primarily used by all of types of news aggregators weighs Supreme Court has recognized that “[t]he law generally recognizes a greater need to disseminate factual works than works of news aggregators are making use of finding of fair use. the first few sentences may contain the heart of the work. This is because. This would weigh in favor of finding fair use. This is courts look at the amount of the copyrighted work that is reproduced both quantitatively and qualitatively. or more factual. Many content originators argue. and sometimes a few sentences from the originators like AFP. considerably narrower. lede. such as a work of fiction. that the portion of a story reproduced by news aggregators is much more significant when looked at from a qualitative perspective. THE EFFECT OF THE USE ON THE POTENTIAL MARKET FOR THE COPYRIGHTED WORK. The Supreme Court. Content original work — usually just the headline.”47 Likewise. most news fair use factors when it comes to the aggregators use only a small portion of the practice of news aggregation. the headline and lede often story — in other words. In some instances. with a greater leeway being allowed to a claim of fair use where the work is factual or informational. the factual contain the most important parts of the slightly in favor of a finding of fair use. they argue. it is not possible to say definitively aggregators.

which found that 44% of Google News users scan the headlines without on the newspapers’ websites.52 The case arose from a unique set newsgathering organizations: the International News Service (“INS”) and the on the news aggregators’ website is not the of circumstances involving two competing articles.51 Further. and thus would be unlikely to be a Associated Press (“AP”). In support of this recently released by the research firm Outsell. news aggregators a 1918 Supreme Court decision. their services are still a to their websites from consumers that would be unlikely to otherwise encounter source of traffic for the newspapers’ exist.50 In response. news aggregators like Google News are likely to argue that. and not ledes. the use of their content by the original articles. Websites that reproduce only headlines. HOT NEWS MISAPPROPRIATION Another theory of liability that has been news misappropriation. content consumers.49 Likewise. case for fair use. The hot news misappropriation doctrine has its origins in syndication of news articles. there is ever clicking through to the original articles are likely to have an easier time making a net benefit to newspapers by driving traffic asserted against news aggregators is hot their content. they can cite to studies like one of aggregators discussed here. despite studies like this. Associated would only skim the headlines and ledes type of consumer that is likely to visit individual news websites and read full Press. and that news websites if the news aggregators did not originators are likely to argue that for many making fair use of copyrighted content is a news aggregators replaces the need for the heavily depends on the specific facts of contention. the outcome of which each case. the question of whether news aggregators are complicated inquiry. could argue that the type of consumer that International News Service v. As the foregoing analysis shows. Both the INS and Page 13 . Even within the four categories considerable variation in how the fair use factors would likely play out.currently exists for the reproduction and aggregators’ use of the content without paying a licensing fee directly threatens that market.

53 about the war. and sending the stories to INS’s subscribers throughout the United States. however.56 At issue Supreme Court crafted a new variant of the common law tort of misappropriation. subscribers on the West Coast “scooping” the local competitor carrying the original AP story. had been an outspoken critic of Great Britain and the United States’ entry into the war and openly sympathized with the Germans. referred to by commentators as the “hot news” doctrine. papers with subscriptions to either the INS or AP were able to provide their readers with news about far-flung setting up their own foreign bureaus. INS engaged in a number of enterprise theories inspired by John Locke Page 14 .54 During World War I. The Court drew upon a view of property and human in establishing the common law doctrine of hot news misappropriation: it wanted to reward the AP for the time and expense involved in gathering and disseminating about the war. As set forth in the Court’s opinion.AP provided stories on national and international events to local newspapers throughout the country. including bribing employees of newspapers that were members of the AP for pre-publication access to the AP’s reporting. the essence of the tort is that one competitor free rides on another competitor’s work at the precise moment when the party whose work is being misappropriated was expecting to reap rewards for that work. the theater. however.55 To ensure that its subscribers were still able to carry news questionable practices. Great Britain prohibited reporters for the INS from sending cables about the war to the United States.57 to their wire services and bulletin boards. In retaliation. rewriting the stories using events without undertaking the expense of In some cases. this practice led to INS report on events occurring in the European In order to prevent this activity. William Randolph Hearst. thus hampering INS’s ability to report on war developments. the owner of the INS. was INS’s practice of purchasing copies of East Coast newspapers running AP stories the facts gleaned from the AP’s reporting. which subscribed In this way. the two services were not equally well positioned to before the Supreme Court.

In addition. as a result of the British government’s sanctions against INS. The Court viewed INS’s the competitive benefit of the AP’s reporting without expending the time and money to collect the information.62 Accordingly. 249 U. United States.59 The Court jurisprudence.”60 The INS case was decided in a unique from the contemporary competitive landscape. in order to This was also the decade where the to address unfair competition. and thirty minutes of lead time for a paper could mean thousands of extra readers that day.” sidestepping arguments that there is no true “property” to be had in the news by relying upon the court’s equitable powers affirmed the circuit court’s decision. United States. and Justice Brandeis’s famous dissent.S. the resulting costs of reporting on the war in Europe fell almost entirely on the AP. there were relatively few news services able to undertake the costs and logistical hurdles theater for newspaper readers in the United States. as an interference with the normal operation of the AP’s business “precisely at the point divert a material portion of the profit from those who have earned it to those who have not. the majority opinion in INS did not address the First Amendment at all.S. leaving in place an injunction against INS facts’] commercial value as news to the complainant and all of its members has passed away. Thus.63 while hinting at the tension between hot news misappropriation.S.”58 The Court reasoned that “he who has fairly paid the price should have the beneficial use of the property.61 Every major city had multiple daily newspapers. daily newspapers peaked. At the time. likewise failed to consider the First Amendment as an independent limitation on the brand new activities. historical context that in some ways differs freedom of expression and the theory of Page 15 . INS was decided before the advent of modern First Amendment to two cases decided by the Supreme Court the following year: Abrams v. number of U.the news. 47 (1919). which can largely be traced taking facts from the AP’s stories “until [the 290 U. through which it was able to reap of reporting on events in the European where the profit is to be reaped. 616 (1919). and Schenck v.

provides copyright protection only for doctrine has shifted to the states. The NBA claimed that Motorola’s operation of the pager service constituted a form of misappropriation and sought to enjoin the service.64 Today.67 the Second Circuit ruled that a narrow version of the hot news misappropriation tort survived the enactment of the 1976 Copyright Act. (ii) the information is timesensitive. (iv) the defendant is in direct competition with a product or service offered by the plaintiffs. (iii) a defendant’s use of the information constitutes free riding on the plaintiff’s efforts. however. which original expression. While the Supreme Court in INS adopted the hot news misappropriation recognition of the misappropriation only five states have adopted the INS hot news tort as part of state unfair competition law. After looking Page 16 . the modern doctrine of hot news misappropriation relies on the same essential theoretical underpinnings as those outlined by the Supreme Court in that case. the National Basketball Association sued Motorola over a pager service by which Motorola provided its customers with scores and other statistics about ongoing NBA basketball games. There is one key difference. While the current competitive landscape is which Motorola sent to its pager different than in the time of INS. the Second Circuit Court of Appeals addressed whether or not the 1976 Copyright Act. and (v) the ability of other parties to free-ride on Motorola typifies the modern application of the surviving hot news tort as follows: customers. the hot news misappropriation doctrine and stands as its leading case. law misappropriation claim. people to watch or listen to the games and upload game statistics into a data feed.doctrine.66 In NBA. preempted the stateat the legislative history behind the Act and using the “extra-element” test for preemption.68 The NBA court formulated the elements of (i) a plaintiff generates or gathers information at a cost. since INS. Motorola paid At the start of its analysis.65 THE MODERN HOT NEWS DOCTRINE The Second Circuit’s decision in NBA v. doctrine as federal common law.

m. however. v. E. Merrill Lynch. TheFlyOnTheWall.S. the injunction prohibits Fly from reporting on stock recommendations issued by the three firms even if such recommendations have already been reported in the mainstream press. In Barclays Capital Inc..69 As articulated by the Second Circuit. before publishing the facts associated with analyst research released before the market opens. Specifically. the Second Circuit found that the NBA failed to make out a hot news claim because operation of Motorola’s pager service did not undermine the NBA’s financial incentive to continue promoting. one of the principal aims of the Page 17 .71 the district court issued a permanent injunction requiring the financial news website FlyOnTheWall. Like the Supreme Court in INS. and Morgan Stanley.72 The decision is currently on appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. and to postpone publication for at least two hours for research issued after the opening bell. Applying its test to the facts of the case. The injunction.”70 The plaintiffs were more successful in a recent case out of the Southern District of New York. and selling professional basketball games. requires Fly to wait until 10 a. marketing. as the Supreme Court has recognized on many subsequent occasions. this was not a situation in which “unlimited free copying would eliminate the incentive to create the facts in the first Notably. the modern form of the misappropriation doctrine thus affords plaintiffs some limited copyright-like protection for facts under narrowly defined circumstances.T. which issued after a finding by the district court that Fly had engaged in hot news misappropriation. both the Second Circuit in NBA and the district court in Barclays failed to undertake any analysis of whether the hot news misappropriation doctrine comports with the requirements of the First Amendment.the efforts of the plaintiff or others would so reduce the incentive to produce the product or service that its existence or quality would be substantially threatened. In other (“Fly”) to delay its reporting of the stock recommendations of research analysts from three prominent Wall Street firms. Barclays Capital Inc.

since the former gatherers to reap the benefits of their work usually limit themselves to reproducing the Page 18 . it is difficult to determine how a court would ultimately apply the elements factor. possible dissemination of information from Nonetheless. PLAINTIFF GENERATES OR GATHERS INFORMATION AT A COST. even when lawfully obtained. (User-Curated Aggregators are likely to fall somewhere in the middle.74 Since the hot news misappropriation doctrine contemplates of the tort to news aggregators. the Supreme Court has recognized — in cases decided subsequent truthful reporting on matters of public concern. since additional information about the contents of the article will often appear in the comments below the article. the elements. which may or may not contain information that was costly to gather. Unlike restrictions on or liability for the publication the fair use situation. APPLICATION OF THE HOT NEWS MISAPPROPRIATION DOCTRINE TO NEWS AGGREGATORS Because of the lack of decisions on the merits in recent hot news misappropriation THE INFORMATION IS TIME-SENSITIVE. however. This cases. Blog of truthful information on matters of public Aggregators may be more vulnerable to a concern.75) doctrine as currently articulated raises First Specialty Aggregators. Feed Aggregators and Specialty Aggregators headline and some portion of the lede of the source article. In contrast. looks hot news claim than Feed Aggregators or usually incorporate more of the facts from a story in their work. rather than looking at the defendant’s use of the information. a plaintiff that to INS — that the First Amendment protects undertook original reporting and had some (or all) of the contents of that reporting repurposed by news aggregators would likely be able to satisfy this prong. It is unclear at this point how a court would ultimately weigh the state interest in assisting news against the First Amendment interest in widely disseminating truthful information about matters of public import.First Amendment is to “secure the ‘widest diverse and antagonistic sources. it is worth briefly reviewing As to this factor. the Amendment concerns.’”73 To that end.

and thus would be likely to serve a different audience. In most of the hot news misappropriation cases decided to date.exclusively to the nature of the plaintiff’s information. than a Specialty Aggregator. (Of course. Specialty Aggregators and User-Curated Aggregators arguably add their own effort by collecting in one location information from many places on the web. making it more accessible to the public.” Blog Aggregators that add additional information or context to a story are less likely to be considered free riders than a that merely rewrites and repurposes the plaintiff’s content. since they often cover many of Page 19 . although the Barclays court found that such aggregation activities were insufficient to overcome a finding that defendant’s activities constituted “free riding. In contrast. THE DEFENDANT IS IN DIRECT COMPETITION WITH A PRODUCT OR SERVICE OFFERED BY THE PLAINTIFFS. While plaintiffs are likely to characterize any use of their material without a license as “free riding. and would be determined on a case-by-case basis.) Here. It is perhaps more likely that a Feed Aggregator like Google News or Yahoo! News would be found to be a direct competitor of a newspaper website. User-Curated Aggregator or Blog Aggregator. this has been one of the two most difficult prongs for plaintiffs to successfully establish.” spam blog or service like All Headline News York Times. and the majority of the stories found on the newspapers’ websites are likely to be reproduced on the Feed Aggregator’s website. a Specialty Aggregator like TechMeme would contain only a small subset of the articles one would find on the Times’ website. courts would likely look to the nature of the defendant’s use of the information. Accordingly. Feed Aggregators. application of this factor is unlikely to vary among our four types of news aggregators. TechMeme would likely be considered a direct competitor of a highly-specialized publication like Macworld. Likewise.76 This is because Feed Aggregators can in some cases serve as a replacement for visiting the website of a newspaper like The New the same stories. DEFENDANT’S USE OF THE INFORMATION CONSTITUTES FREE RIDING ON THE PLAINTIFF’S EFFORTS.

a news aggregator with a small  Reproduce only those portions of the   headline or article that are necessary  to make your point or to identify the  story. link to the original  source of the article. and. and (2) the size and nature of the news aggregator’s readership.  of articles available from a single  source.   Whenever possible.DEFENDANT’S ACTIONS WOULD REDUCE THE INCENTIVE TO PRODUCE THE INFORMATION TO BEST PRACTICES  A If you are the creator of a news   aggregation website.  Do not reproduce the story in its  entirety. formed the basis for the Second Circuit holding in favor of the defendant in NBA. a Blog Aggregator that summarizes all of the relevant information from a news article or a Feed Aggregator that reproduces the entire lede of the story are likely to have a greater deleterious effect on the plaintiff’s incentive to invest in news gathering than a Feed Aggregator or Specialty Aggregator that displays only a headline or a few words from the lede. Here. what should you do  to protect yourself against lawsuits?   Short of licensing all of the content you  use. there are certain best practices that  you can adopt that are likely to reduce  your legal risk. than the use   the aggregator makes of the information. the analysis turns less on the type of aggregator.  Page 20 .   Try not to use all. Two factors courts would likely consider important in determining whether a news aggregator engages in hot news misappropriation are (1) the extent to which viewing the information on the news aggregator’s website would replace reading the original content.   Prominently identify the source of the  article. Thus.  POINT WHERE ITS EXISTENCE OR QUALITY WOULD BE SUBSTANTIALLY THREATENED. provide context or  commentary for the material you use.   When possible. This has likewise been a difficult prong for plaintiffs to establish in hot news misappropriation cases.  Limit yourself to those articles  that are directly relevant to your   audience. or even the majority. Likewise. in fact.

There is great variation purpose. there are certain steps that news aggregators can take to mitigate their legal risks. while Google News or a website that be more damaging. as outlined in the “Best Practices” section. as well as within the categories. it remains to be seen whether the hot news misappropriation doctrine as currently formulated will remain viable in light of First Amendment concerns. We are in the midst of a sea change in the way in which journalism is practiced in the United States. at 5. Understanding the Participatory News Consumer. In order for experimental business models to flourish. we would like to sound a note of caution for those seeking to of news aggregation. At a time of great flux in the media ecosystem. to create rules which would have the effect. there is a good bit of legal uncertainty surrounding news aggregation activities. and it is difficult to provide a definitive answer in a paper like this. Further. available at http:// Page 21 . Both fair use and hot news misappropriation claims are in the legal analysis between different categories of news aggregators.77 While the authors anticipate that the continue to be fought in the courts and in public policy circles. it would be premature. highly fact specific. not closed systems that tilt the playing field in favor of incumbents. we need legal rules that promote flexibility and free access to information. The past few years have seen an explosion of innovative approaches to both the practice and business of journalism. and likely counterproductive. March 2010. of privileging one journalistic ENDNOTES 1 Pew Internet & American Life Project. if not the business model over others.readership or a readership that did not readership would be unlikely to threaten the continued existence of a newspaper. significantly overlap with the plaintiff’s core debate regarding news aggregators will targets the same consumers could perhaps “save” journalism by addressing the issue CONCLUSION As the foregoing discussion illustrates. Nonetheless.

stateofthemedia. available at http://www.3d 811. 2010).com/2009/dec/02/ business/la-fi-news-google2-2009dec02 (last riding by news aggregators as a hurdle to the creation of quality news: “Without us. and edited newspapers_summary_essay. 336 F. media/2009/dec/01/rupert-murdoch-no-free-news weblog devoted to “Web Technology news. 10. To paraphrase a great economist.” See. http://www. Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism. March 2009. business-blogging/blog-tips-a-glossary-of-blogterms/ (last visited Apr. Andrew L. 456.”).. Chapter 4: Newspapers. 2010. Supp.pdf. available at http://businessblogschool. a and analysis.pewinternet.” See. as websites like The Huffington Post are often described as “aggregators. available at http://articles. 2010). Right now content producers have all the costs.8 ( Dec. 596 n. people powered AltaVista Tech.” Mercedes Bunz. 2009. 10.www. 1003 PLI/Pat 511. 816 (9th Cir. Also called a news readers. But the principle no such thing as a free news story. guardian. Murdoch accuses Google of news ‘theft’. 5 The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism See Digital Equip. 7 Many definitions of “news aggregator” use the term interchangeably with the terms “news reader” and “RSS aggregator.latimes. Corp. Rupert Murdoch: ‘There’s no such thing as a free news story’. 26.php (last visited Apr. 2010). e. BusinessBlogSchool. 1997). December Page 22 .iab. Murdoch has pointed to free page. Josh March 15. available at http:// www. Arriba Soft Corp. Los Angeles Times. Popular usage appears to have expanded beyond this definition. 2009. feed reader or is clear. Mass. Inc. The State of the News Media 2010. 2010). 2010). [there is] Case for a Federalized Hot News Misappropriation These are by no means the only ways to categorize news aggregators. 2. (last visited Feb. 4 visited Apr. single page aggregation. Protecting News in the Digital Era: The Tort.. 10. e. Blog Tips: A Glossary of Blog Terms. meme aggregation.. reviews PricewaterhouseCoopers Industry Survey. 8 David (last visited Apr. v. 6 See Kelly v.g. 2010) (“News aggregator: A website or application that collates feeds into a customised [sic] newspaper/home RSS aggregator.” categorizes news aggregators into five categories based on their aggregation techniques: single stream aggregation. IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report. the aggregators would have blank slides.. however. 10. 3 960 F. estimates that advertising revenue for American newspapers dropped nearly 43% between the end of 2006 and the end of 2009.aspx (last visited Apr. 461 (D.. 2 2003). and the aggregators enjoy [the benefits]. Deutsch. 2010).

Oct. 2010). 9 (D. Inc. 2010). Apr.D. 1:05CV00546 (GK) (D. available at http:// The relationship between Google and The web/20071231082631/ www.N. Similar to other types of websites. Agence France Presse v. available at http://news. 2005). http:// googleblog. 2010.. Oct.D. Feb.cnet. 18 Id..wsj. 14.allheadlinenews. 12 Complaint at ¶¶ 4-5. 21.php (last visited Apr.Y. Feb. 1:05CV00546 (GK) (D. ReadWriteWeb. 2005).. 1:05CV00546 (GK) Page 23 . News. Presse v. Agence France-Presse. 6. hl=en&answer=93977 (last visited Apr. No. 11 16 Caroline (last visited May 29. 2005). AP Stories Reappear on Google News. Inc. No. available at http:// www. which would effectively Google. 2010). Wall Street Journal Digits Blog. 1:08-cv-00323-PKC (S. 29. First Amended Complaint. a newspaper 12. All Headline News (last visited Feb. News (publishers) Help: Additional Tips: Robots.archive. The two companies settled a dispute in 2006 over the use of AP content on Google News and have recently been renegotiating a new licensing agreement. Judgment Dismissing The Complaint For Failure To State A Claim. 8. 2007. 2008). 17 Associated Press would likewise prove contentious. Google. 1:08-cv-00323-PKC (S. 8. 1030_3-6174008. See Russell Adams. All Headline News Corp. All Headline News. 2010). CNET News. And Now.C. 13 Google’s Motion And Memorandum For news_aggregation_methods. Jan.D. 2008). 12. About AHN / Company render the site invisible to Google’s search engines.Y. 2010). Inc. 22.. Agence France Presse v. Jan.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-020&subj=news (last visited Apr.blogspot.html (last visited Feb. 15 that did not want its content indexed by Google could exclude Google’s crawlers by modifying the website’s Robots.N.D.txt file. Google. July 10. Agence France The Associated Press v. 2006. 14 23.C.5 News Aggregation Methods Compared. Google settle copyright dispute. No. 2010). The Official Google support/news_pub/bin/answer. No. Defendants’ Motion and Notice of Motion To 19 Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12. The Associated Press v. available at http://www. available at http://web. 29.D. Google. 8. Apr. 10 Google’s Motion and Memorandum for Partial Summary Judgment Dismissing Count II for Lack of Protectable Subject Background. files/2009-01-25-Letter%20Agreement. See CMM Cable Rep. Inc. Inc. Inc. Bridgewater Candle Co. 2001).org/sites/citmedialaw. 2010)..S. Int'l Ins. 1995) (per curiam.C. 608 F. 23 32 Id. and slogans.S. .citmedialaw. 340. v.S. 22. 27 Google Inc. 340.html (last visited May 29.associatedpress.Y. 2008). Dec. a New York-based company.. In declining to dismiss the AP’s 28 17 U.9 (1st Cir.. particular has been authoritatively established”). 37 C. Sept. 17 U.2d 454 (S. No.. 2009). 34 (1st Cir. 35 (Jan. GateHouse Media. AP and AHN Co. 2008).’s Answer and Counterclaims at 22. Inc. 0-12114-WGY (D. 1995 WL 561530 at *1 (1st Cir. Associated Press. e. § 107.C. Aryelo v. This is known as the idea/expression dichotomy in copyright law. Co.N. 0-12114-WGY (D. Yankee Candle Co. May 19.R. 34 v. 22 these exclusive rights are certain compulsory licenses built into the Copyright Act. and the fair use doctrine. 2010). unpublished) ("The non-copyrightability of titles in 24 New York Times Co. Page 24 . filed Dec. Agence France Presse v. The (titles and short phrases uncopyrightable).3d 1504. Rural Telephone Service Press Release. 26. § 102(a) (2010). The New York Times Co.2d 600. Am.. 843 F.pdf (last visited Feb.20 The Associated Press pressreleases/pr_071309a. Inc. at 461. Concrete Mach.. . 259 F. No. titles. Google.. 22. 0-12114-WGY (D. Inc. Ocean Coast Props. Co. the Court found that the AP. See Letter Agreement Re: GateHouse Media.F. 2008). v. 97 F. All Headline News Id. table. 36 499 U. § 106. 345 (1991). GateHouse Media. 2009).S. Mass. . which is discussed in detail below. 95-1360. 2005). Dec. 1996) See Complaint..g.. 1:05CV00546 (GK) (D. v. v. 25. available at http://www. § 202. The two primary exceptions to Corp. 17 U.. 21. Classic Lawn Ornaments. See Notes from Hearing. Mass. 2009). The New York Times Co. Supp.S.D. Inc. 33 Order and Preliminary Injunction and Request for Expedited Hearing. 26 See. 21 29 claim for hot news misappropriation. 31 Media Settle AP’s Lawsuit Against AHN Media and Individual Defendants (May 13.3d 25.C.1(a) (excluding from copyright 25 See Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining protection “[w]ords and short phrases such as name. 499 U. 345 (1991).. v."). No. 1988). could assert a claim under New York common law against the Florida-based All Headline News. GateHouse Media. 22. No.. available at http:// www.D. 1519-20 (1st Cir. 609 n. No. Mass. v. 30 Feist Publ'ns. Id.

1164 (1994) (commercial factor).3d 244... 563.S. 105 S. 508 F. v. in GateHouse hyper-local blog aggregating content from another 471 U. This argument is likely bolstered by the fact that 49 Google ultimately negotiated a license for AFP and Media. Inc.S.. the Harper & Row Publishers.. Inc. e. 584. Koons.S. such as a website that collects information about Apple products reproducing news from a magazine devoted to Apple fans. Inc. 2007). For example. 467 F. 539.3d 1146. 17 U. so long as they comply with the requirements of the statute (such as registering a DMCA agent with the Copyright Office and responding expeditiously to take-down notices). 508 F. the website operator is likely insulated from liability for copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. 510 U. Arriba Soft Corp. Inc. It is not hard to imagine of the use. (Although Gawker would likely argue that the user comments below the article provide additional commentary on the piece. which provides interactive service providers with a based on content uploaded by third parties.. 2218 (1985). again. See. Nation Enters. Amazon. Perfect 10.3d at 1165. Harper & Row. this is not always the case – 41 Perfect 10. 569. 114 S. v. 48 See. Ct.g. 47 This will not always be true. § 512(c). 819 40 (9th Cir.37 Courts have previously found services like hyper-local blog.) 46 Blanch v. 2006).. Although. Inc. A Feed Aggregator like Google News will such as when Gawker paraphrases an article without providing additional commentary. e. 336 F. 256 (2d at 564-65. 1166 (9th Cir. at 578 (internal citations omitted). The New York Times Co.C. Ct. of the incorporation of advertising. 2003). 38 44 Even if user-curated aggregation doesn’t qualify as fair use. Page 25 . 39 nature of work is not dispositive on the first fair use safe harbor against copyright infringement claims Id.S. Inc. 471 U. v. but a situation where Google News and a national news website.. like CNN. and thus increase the transformativeness 42 sometimes cover a broader range of topics than some of the news sources that it aggregates. 45 Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music.g. Kelly v. transformative nature of the Specialty Aggregator would be less when it draws its information from another source with a similarly narrow focus. both of which covered the same Google’s search services to be commercial because geographic area. you had one AP content that appears on the Google News site.. would have many of the same stories on their front pages.3d 811. 43 this is not always the Likewise.

INS is no longer authoritative after Erie Railroad v. 170 F. See McKevitt v. Moviefone. Inc. Pallasch.g. Information as Speech. 54 55 Property and the Legacy of International News Service v.D. For larger news websites like The New York Times or CNN. 19. Information as Goods: Some Thoughts on Marketplaces and the Bill of Rights. 665. Media History Project. dissenting). Rev. since the will often not overlap significantly with the news website’s current readership.S. 411. No Law: Intellectual Property in the Image of an Absolute First Amendment. Fred Wehrenberg Circuit of Theatres. 65 248 U. 2003) (Illinois).com. 52 Stan. Of the four types of news aggregators discussed herein. 52 See. 248 U. 248 U. David Lange & H. 57 Supp. Jefferson Powell. L.2d 94 (E. 304 U. 339 F.S. at 412. truths ascertained. Inc. 73 F. 167. 412 (1983). available at http:// techcrunch. Cal.S. niche audience targeted by the Specialty Aggregator Volokh.html (last visited Apr. L. v. 33 Wm. 50 U. argument is likely to be stronger when the 1919. 62 plaintiff is a small. Associated Press. 215 (1918). the Specialty Aggregator has perhaps the strongest argument that it drives new traffic to the content originator’s (last visited Apr. 248 U. 685 n.50 Robin Wauters. Supp. Freedom of Speech and Information 248 U. See id. Eugene Privacy: The Troubling Implications of a Right to Stop People from Speaking About You. free as the air to common use.. Douglas G. 149. Tompkins. L. it is less likely that users would be unlikely to find their content but for the news aggregator.D. Visitors Scan Headlines. 1999) 58 Page 26 . 726 (1992). Jan. Id. Don't Click Through. 64 (1938). Baird. Rev. Chi. 51 61 60 http://www. e.mediahistory..S. 171-72 (2009). at 230. Chi.S. Mo. Rev. Common Law Intellectual human productions—knowledge. & Mary L. J. 50 U. 10. at 250 (Brandeis. that the noblest of 53 See INS. after voluntary communication to others. 1049. Rev.” INS. 10. at 231. Report: 44% Of Google News 59 Id. University of Minnesota.. Baird. 56 64 As an instance of federal common law. Pollstar v. 1070 (2000). 63 “The general rule of law is. conceptions.139. at 231. and ideas—become. 2000) (California). Diane Leenheer Zimmerman. at 245. regional newspaper or blog.S. 2010). 2010). 2010.2d 1044 (E.umn. at 240. Gigmania Ltd.3d 530 (7th Cir.

Etergino also receives “blast IMs” through the Bloomberg. 376 U. 105 F. Pottstown Daily News Publ’g Co.S. 1997) (New York). Sullivan.S. at *12. 22. 266 (1964) (quoting Associated Press v. Co. e. v.. 71 No.. 40 527-28. and Briefing. Thomson Reuters. Daily Mail Publ’g Co. at 850-53 (finding three extra elements in 67 hot news misappropriation claims).2d 657 (Pa. 66 information it reprinted from a variety of publiclyavailable sources. Thomson Reuters. The New York Times Co. and other contacts on Wall Street. 631 (2003). Agence France Presse v.Y. Inc. 105 F. money managers. Vopper. 443 U. Etergino exchanges IMs. describing the process thus: According to Etergino. Supp.F. Next.S. and Fly's competitors such as TTN. NBA v. Richard Posner.(Missouri). he checks first to see what Recommendations have been reported on Bloomberg Market News. 20 (1945)).. 2010 WL 1005160 (S. No. 06 Civ. . Mass. U. GateHouse Media. Finally. 1963) (Pennsylvania).S. Inc. 74 69 New York Times Co. Smith v. 18. 4908. Misappropriation: A Dirge. B. Mar. 2010).com. Google..N.. --. 533-35 (2001) (First Amendment barred imposition of civil damages under wiretapping law for publishing contents of conversation relevant to matter of public concern). 524. 73 105 F. he visits chat rooms to which he has been invited to participate by the moderator.g. Hot news misappropriation has also been asserted in cases in Massachusetts (Complaint. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. 72 The district court noted that Fly obtained the Page 27 . 1997) Id. See. Rev. 97.C. 1. . or IMTrader messaging services that may go to dozens or hundreds of individuals.F. 2005)).. Dec..S. 534 (1989) (First Amendment barred imposition of civil damages on newspaper for publishing rape victim’s name). 539 U. 621. No. April 29.S. 68 It is unclear whether the Second Circuit’s finding that the hot news misappropriation doctrine is not preempted by the Copyright Act would survive the Supreme Court’s holding in Dastar Corp. Dist.3d 841 (2nd Cir. v. 23 (2002). 2008)) and the District of Columbia (First Amended Complaint. emails. Pottstown Broad. Florida Star v.3d at 845. 192 A. 1:05CV00546 (GK) (D.S. 514. Then he checks Dow Jones. 532 U. although neither court had occasion to rule on whether the tort was recognized in their state. L. StreetAcount.2d ----. 254. 326 U. v. 0-12114-WGY (D.3d 841 (2nd and more rarely telephone calls with individual traders at hedge funds. 103-06 (1979) (First Amendment barred prosecution under state statute 70 Hous. v. 491 U. .J.. 2010 WL 1005160. Bartnicki v. Motorola.

for publishing names of juvenile offenders without court’s permission). 76 Although many in the news business appear to view The Huffington Post as a direct competitor.C. 75 47 U. 841-42 (1978) (First Amendment barred criminal prosecution for disclosing information from a confidential judicial disciplinary proceeding). website from the news aggregator against any alleged harm. Cox Broad. Va. Inc. 469. 77 It is possible that the owner of a User-Curated In evaluating this factor. 829. Corp.. Page 28 . v. 435 U. civil cause of action for publishing name of rape victim when information lawfully obtained from court records).S. the court would need Aggregator website would be considered immune to to balance additional traffic received by the news hot news misappropriation claims based on information contained in user comments under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Cohn. 491 (1975) (First Amendment barred from the protections of Section 230.S. This assumes that courts would not consider a claim under the hot news misappropriation doctrine to be an intellectual property claim. Landmark Commc’ns.S. v. since intellectual property claims are specifically excluded 420 U. which bars claims against a website operator based on content supplied by users. §230.

Member. 1 See Student Newspapers Hit By Theft Nationwide.splc. B. Virginia Commonwealth University.” and citing instances of theft of college newspapers in 2009 at universities including. CENTER REP. Spring 2009. (with Distinction).asp?id=1508&edition=49 (last visited Sept. Fla. can online news stories that flow on the Internet also be stolen? Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication at the University of Florida.1 But just as the theft of print newspapers can occur at news racks. ⊗ Masters student in Media Law at the University of Florida. Ph. L. REV. (Order of the Coif).M. 1996. at 35. and Catholic University of America). Stanford University. Gainesville.WAKE FOREST INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW JOURNAL VOLUME 10 2009 . Brechner Graduate Assistant at the University of Florida.A. 5.A.2010 NUMBER 1 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE By Clay Calvert♣ Kayla Gutierrez⊗ Christina Locke⊕ INTRODUCTION Thousands of hard copies of newspapers across the country— particularly editions of college newspapers—are reported pilfered each year. ⊕ Doctoral student and Joseph L. Stanford University. J.C. 25 LOY.. Communication.D. 2007..A. L. STUDENT PRESS 117 (2004) (providing an examination of the legal issues and legislation surrounding the theft of free newspapers in the United States).S. Fla. McGeorge School of Law. ENT. State Bar of California. 1991. Member.. 1987.. ♣ . Gainesville. a “Free” Press & a Lagging Legislative Response. University of Florida. available at https://www. 2008. Telecommunication. All the News That’s Fit to Steal: The First Amendment. Professor Calvert thanks Dean John Wright. State Bar of Georgia. University of the Pacific.D. Gainesville. University of Florida. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Executive Associate Dean Linda Hon and the entire staff in the Dean’s Suite of the College of Journalism and Communications for helping to make his transition from Penn State to the University of Florida a smooth one. J. 2009) (observing that “theft of free student newspapers is one of the most common means of censorship in college media.D. Fla. See generally Clay Calvert. among others. B. (with Honors) and M. Communication.

in relevant part. in pertinent part.2 In fact.S. 8 See 17 U.S. at 234. NEWS WRITING & REPORTING FOR TODAY’S MEDIA 11 (7th ed. and it is different things to different people”). 2 . It is. 6 See generally BRUCE D. 248 U. 344 (1991).10 That question. 234 (1918). 673.8 “the underlying news itself—the facts and events being recounted—of course could not be the subject of copyright protection. on IMPERIAL BEDROOM (Rykodisk 1982). Inc. as one federal appellate court put it.S.”5 The implication of these twin principles for the practice of journalism and the often poorly explicated concept of news itself6 is that while “the words and arrangement of a news story would be copyrightable expression.” observing that definitions of news range from “[s]omething you haven’t heard before” to “[w]hat editors and reporters say it is.C.C.” including literary works). Co. 215. that “in no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea”). “[c]opyrightable material often contains uncopyrightable elements within it. it is at the heart of some battles now being fought over news on the Internet. Inc. The United States Supreme Court long ago recognized that a news “article. L..S.3d 841. as the United States Supreme Court observed nearly twenty years ago. 340. § 102 (a) (2006) (providing. “facts are not copyrightable. 105 F.”7 when they are assembled in an original manner and fixed in a tangible medium of expression. in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Serv. 560 (1985) (noting the distinction “between copyrightable expression and uncopyrightable facts and ideas”). 2007) (writing that “the definition of news is elusive. of course. REV. As Elvis Costello once so aptly put it in a way that attorneys and long-winded legal scholars would be wise to obey.. at 675. 5 Id.S.”10 This would seem to protect rewrites of news articles when those rewrites involve re-ordering.C. ANDERSON. in accordance with this title. v. and using the underlying facts—the uncopyrightable underlying “news element. ITULE & DOUGLAS A.”9 In other words. Nation Enters. a fundamental tenet of copyright law in the United States that ideas cannot be owned.2 WAKE FOREST INTELL. “spare us the theatrics and the verbal gymnastics. 9 Myers. 499 U. 471 U.J.” and ultimately determining that “[w]hatever it is. supra note 7. is the subject of copyright. 1997).. PROP. 539. 3 See 17 U. L.. 675 (1996). 11 Int’l News Serv. Rural Tel. The Restatement’s Rejection of the Misappropriation Tort: A Victory for the Public Domain. 7 Gary Myers. Motorola. 10 Nat’l Basketball Ass’n v. v. v.” Elvis Costello.” as the United States Supreme Court once called it11—in different ways. as this article demonstrates. Inc. Vol. 248 U. See Harper & Row Publishers. 4 Feist Publ’ns.” Int’l News Serv.”4 adding that this proposition is “universally understood. that “[c]opyright protection subsists. § 102 (b) (2006) (providing. 47 S. news is an extremely complex term. reworking. is no idle academic query or a wasted exercise in verbal gymnastics distinguishing newspapers from news and news stories. Associated Press.S. as a literary production.3 Similarly. 849 (2d Cir. The Loved Ones.

2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 3 But that does not end the legal inquiry. a Florida-based business that bills itself as “a leading provider of news. 2009) (on file with Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal). in layperson’s terms. the common law tort of hot news misappropriation provides a viable method—at least in those states that recognize it12 and do not view it as pre-empted by the federal Copyright Act13 and in those circumstances that fall within its rather narrow confines14—of fighting back against the alleged digital piracy of news stories online where. Info. interactive applications. the “ease of free riding on the investment of others via Internet-related technological advances threatens to be a serious disincentive to investment in the development of data-based informational products. 12 . v. Importantly. v. in a nutshell. broadcast The tort of hot news misappropriation originally was a “creature of the federal common-law. 942. (hereinafter “AHN” or “All Headline News”). HAW. 14 See infra note 81 and accompanying text (identifying the five elements of this cause of action that. wireless. Tex.. § 301 (2006) (providing. 808 F. according to courts within one federal appellate circuit. 20 U. 540 F. 421. 16 See Press Release. 1982). n. its news content was being stolen by the All Headline News Corp. for the preemption of “all legal or equitable rights that are equivalent to any of the exclusive rights within the general scope of” federal statutes governing copyright. weather. Fujichaku. state law can provide the basis for such protection.. Associated Press. 928.D. as one law journal article contended.9 (W.. Inc. 13 See 17 U. courts have held that the hot news misappropriation tort is “a branch of the unfair competition doctrine not preempted by the Copyright Act.html (noting that “[t]he settlement includes payment by AHN to AP of an unspecified sum to settle the AP’s claim for past unauthorized use of AP expression and news content. 209 (2d Cir.” Schuchart & Assocs. must be demonstrated in order for a plaintiff to succeed). in general. Solo Serve Corp. L.associatedpress. The Misappropriation Doctrine in Cyberspace: Protecting the Commercial Value of “Hot News” Information. Moody’s Investors Serv. Supp. As the Associated Press proved in 2009.S. ripping off its news articles. available at http://www. 425 (1998).”).2d 204. REV. 1986). Inc.” and “while the federal common-law no longer provides the source for the action of misappropriation..” Fin. and other content for web sites. AP and AHN Media Settle AP’s Lawsuit Against AHN Media and Individual Defendants (July 13. digital signage. Copyright principles do not provide the only legal framework for considering possible redress when one news agency or news service believes another company is. and governing preemption issues of federal copyright law). 15 Rex the Associated Press settled for an undisclosed dollar amount16 a lawsuit asserting that.C.”15 In July 2009. Recent Development.

21 Id. http://www.. the AP asserted that AHN was “free-riding on AP’s significant and costly efforts to collect. Supp.26 the most journalistically intriguing legal theory upon which the AP sued AHN was for hot news misappropriation under the common law of New York. 5. 25 See id. http://www.28 the AP successfully reached back in time and stretched a ninety-one-year-old precedent— one developed many decades before the Internet enabled the type of appropriation engaged in by AHN—found in the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in International News Service v.10 and print use. such as breach of contract. L. 19 Id. 27 See id. in situations of direct competition where “both parties are seeking to make profits at the same time and in the same field.25 and copyright infringement. which conversely trumpets itself as “the largest and oldest news organization in the world”18 and “the backbone of the world’s information system serving thousands of daily newspaper. television and online customers. 2d 454 (S. All Headline News Corp.. at 20-21 (setting forth the AP’s second cause of action for copyright infringement). 608 F.”30 news that is gathered by one of those parties “must be About AHN/Company Background. 26 See id. at 26-27 (setting forth the AP’s seventh cause of action for breaches of contract). 30 Id. 2. 20 Complaint at 2. Vol. 2009). All Headline News Corp.D.N. 323) [hereinafter Complaint]. 2009).allheadlinenews. radio. PROP.29 In that 1918 decision.ap.”20 As such. 215 (1918).S.”23 Although the AP’s complaint included multiple causes of action. Supp. at 19-20 (setting forth the AP’s first cause of action for hot news misappropriation). 24 See id. 18 Associated Press. at 19. 29 248 U.27 In Associated Press v. at 24. at 22-23 (setting forth the AP’s fourth cause of action for infringement of a registered trademark).”21 thereby creating a low-cost news service with “no journalistic infrastructure”22 that “directly competes with AP’s own news services.”19 alleged in its January 2008 complaint that “AHN has no reporters and is simply a vehicle for copying news reports and misappropriating news gathered and reported by real news services such as AP. 2d 454 ( Associated Press.J. 22 Id.”17 The AP. at 19. a majority of the United States Supreme Court determined that. 17 . 23 Id. 2009) (No. 08 Civ. 2009). at (last visited Sept.Y.N. report and transmit newsworthy information. Associated Press v. 28 608 F.4 WAKE FOREST INTELL.Y. Facts & Figures.24 trademark infringement.html (last visited Sept.

248 U.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 5 regarded as quasi property”31 that possesses “an exchange value to one who can misappropriate it. 42 Wendy J. 2005 BYU L. 35 Id. 1225. at 239. 1201. L. 178 (1992). at 240. The case has thus been called by one law professor “the most famous reap/sow case”42 of the twentieth century.”32 In particular.”33 implying that when news is no longer “fresh”—a term not defined in International News Service—the property right that one news service possesses against another disappears. at 240. (emphasis added). 78 VA. . at 238. 33 Id. and an Intermediate Liability Proposal. On Owning Information: Intellectual Property and the Restitutionary Impulse. 44 John Tehranian.”43 As Professor John Tehranian aptly summed up the majority ruling.. REV. International News Service “granted news organizations temporary ownership of factual information in order to preserve their incentive to expend resources on news-gathering without fear of having rivals free ride on the information by scooping them without payment. Id. 36 See id. Whither Copyright? Transformative Use. and effort. Gordon. at 235. skill. REV. 43 Int’l News Serv. 39 Id. 34 Id. 37 Id.”37 and the equitable principle “that he who has fairly paid the price should have the beneficial use of the property.”35 the Supreme Court focused instead on fiscal concerns—the concept of unfair competition. at 238.”44 31 32 Id. 149. at 240. 41 Id.”). drawing from Justice Mahlon Pitney’s underlying concern for fairness that defendant International News Service was “endeavoring to reap where it has not sown. because the AP in International News Service had gathered and distributed news due to “a large expenditure of money. at 235 (“[I]t seems to us the case must turn upon the question of unfair competition in business.36 “the business of making [news] known to the world. 40 Id.”38 Put more bluntly. Free Speech. Rejecting as “untenable”34 the notion that “news is abandoned to the public for all purposes when published in the first newspaper.S. the Court reasoned that the “peculiar value of news is in the spreading of it while it is fresh.”39 it deserved to profit from the “novelty and freshness”40 of its news and to stop a free-riding rival news service from “misappropriating it for the purpose of disposing of it to his own profit and to the disadvantage of”41 the Associated Press. 38 Id.

J. to better contextualize the story behind the case.6 WAKE FOREST INTELL. Importantly. 167. is the focus of this article. in particular. 248 U. has since been eliminated by the Supreme Court in the famous Erie Railroad case in 1938. Int’l News Serv.. Part IV concludes by suggesting future avenues of research related to the conduct of companies such as All Headline News Corp. Part III goes beyond a pure legal analysis to explore the potential implications of the hot news misappropriation doctrine for a digital culture in which freshness and up-to-the-minute information is privileged and prized.”46 and it “formed—and continues to form—the basic contours of the doctrine of misappropriation of publicly disclosed trade values. REV. I. All Headline News Corp. Part III also identifies the different interests at stake in cases like Associated Press v. Common Law Misappropriation in the Digital Era. as well as some of the criticisms and comments that legal scholars have launched against it over the years. L. at 241. Dale P. “the genesis of misappropriation. 45 The case represents.”). L. Part I of this article analyzes the case of Associated Press v. Olson put it a decade ago. 15 STAN. not simply a legal one. Olson. 46 45 . In brief. Finally. journalism ethicists should analyze both the case and hot news doctrine from their viewpoint and position. as well as other background information about the parties. PROP. 64 MO. 47 Id. L. All Headline News Corp. 878 (1999)... Roberts. All Headline News Corp. And although the federal common law that gave rise to the International News Service decision is now long defunct.48 the hot news misappropriation tort is alive and well in the age of the Internet in New York. Next.RE-WRITING THE NEWS OR RE-WRITING THE LAW?THE ASSOCIATED PRESS’S BATTLE AGAINST ALL HEADLINE NEWS CORP. 837. the tort of hot news misappropriation in 2009 in Associated Press v. The Scope of the Exclusive Right to Control Dissemination of Real-Time Sports Event Information. as Professor Dale P. it uses the actual pleadings and briefs filed by the parties. including analyzing their behavior from an ethical perspective.”47 The continuing formation and evolution of that doctrine and. Vol. & POL’Y REV. federal general common law. tracing it from the filing of the complaint through the July 2009 settlement.S.10 The “practical needs and requirements of the business” of making and disseminating news thus prevailed before the Supreme Court in International News Service. 171 (2004) (“The legal foundation for the INS decision. Part II then explores the legal precedent underlying the hot news misappropriation theory that was at issue in the case. 48 See Gary R.

html. 54 See James C.”49 High-profile evidence buttressing that assertion.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 7 “AP is a leader in protecting intellectual property rights through monitoring. president and chief executive officer. at 3 (reporting on “an allegation from The Associated Press that Fairey infringed its copyright by appropriating one of its photos for the ‘Hope’ poster”). 52 See generally Christopher Borrelli. But What is Fair?. 2009). 2009) (on file with Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal). 2009. at great cost. Associated Press. 09-01123 (S. white and blue tones. and often at great risk.. Associated Press. We have decided to draw a line in concrete. Obama in red. 2009) (on file with Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal).. Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims of Defendant. 9. 56 Id. http://www. the Associated Press at 10. Feb. The poster became a campaign icon. and added ‘Hope’ underneath. cast Mr. Fairey v. WALL ST. 11. TRIB. No.D. AP Creates Way to Track Distribution of Articles Online. J. Street Artist Fairey at a Crossroad. Associated Press.”) (emphasis added).ap. Mar. incorporated language in a press release echoing the reap/sow principle at the heart of International News Service. Protecting AP’s Intellectual Property.Y. 55 Russell Adams & Shira Ovide. Business Editor.associatedpress. 11.”53 Beyond this skirmish over a now iconic image. 58 Press Release.54 the Associated Press in July 2009 announced it was “creating a way to track and control the distribution of its articles online.Y. July 24. Associated Press Defends Lawsuit Brought by Shepard Fairey over Obama Poster (Mar.57 emphasizing that the AP has “stood by too long and watched other people make money off the hard work of our journalists. 50 Id. 2009).”55 The move arose because. Fairey downloaded the photo from the Internet. at B6.”58 49 Associated Press. Michael Liedtke. 241 N. What’s Fair is Fair. 51 Answer. 53 Press Release. 57 See supra notes 43-45 and accompanying text (discussing this principle within the context of International News Service). AP Setting Up Tracking System for Web Content (July 23.J.N.50 was on full display in 2009 when the news service contended that artist Shepard Fairey engaged in a “willful and blatant violation of The AP’s copyright in a photograph of President Obama”51 that Fairey used to create his so-called Obama Hope poster. 3. as the Wall Street Journal reported. L. 1. which the Associated Press conveys on its website. with creativity. 2009. AP’s chief executive. “some bloggers and other Web sites run stories without permission. CHI. available at http://www. (2009) (“Mr. licensing and enforcement efforts.”56 Tom Curley.52 Tom Curley. proclaimed that the AP’s countersuit against Fairey—the artist had initially sued the AP—“is about protecting the content that The Associated Press and its journalists produce every Goodale. available at .com/iprights (last visited Sept.

with the cost savings allowing AHN to sell what once really were the AP’s stories at a price to subscribers cheaper than the AP could sell them.64 The AP alleged that AHN hires poorly paid individuals. we’re on track to double our revenues this year.65 In its First Amended Complaint. Supp.ap. 66 First Amended Complaint at 16. 60 See Associated Press v. All Headline News Corp.html. 2009). 608 F. 67 Id. June 20. at 16. Vol.J. Associated Press v. J.html. 61 Bill Frogameni. Associated Press Sues News Provider Based in Wellington. 2d 454 (S.61 He had no previous journalism experience. AHN. the AP claimed they are “aggregated by AHN into a news feed which it then distributes to its customers and displayed and/or distributed via AHN’s servers. 64 See Complaint. is owned by a former police officer named Jeffrey Brown. .com. the AP contended that—like so many businesses today in the United States—AHN offshored part of the re-writing process to people in Malaysia.”66 In fact. 08 68 Id. 323) [hereinafter First Amended Complaint].8 WAKE FOREST INTELL. and Brown was quoted in 2008 as stating that “despite the troubling and uncertain economy. BridalClicks. 608 65 Id. all the while carefully omitting any identifying information about their origin. who founded the company after a customer of another website he operated. available at http://www. PROP.N. 2d 454 (S. 2008.”63 With AHN’s operation apparently becoming a success.N.”68 http://www.60In particular.67 Once the stories are edited.. (stating that the AP will be “bundling its text stories in an ‘informational wrapper’ that will include a built-in beacon to monitor where stories go on the Internet”).62 Despite the lack of relevant bona fides. L. at 2-3. 2009) (No. Supp. AP filed its lawsuit against AHN and Brown in federal court in New York in January 2008. BUS.Y.Y. S. 63 Id. and then has them either copy the stories verbatim or re-write them. instructs them to surf the Internet for new stories. 59 Id.D.. Florida.10 In addition to such policing and monitoring of its content on the Internet via built-in beacons that track where a story moves and posts online.D. supra note 20. asked for news content. at 20. the AP asserted that AHN’s writers “do no independent research and newsgathering in preparing news stories. All Headline News Corp. the business took off fast.. 62 Id. FLA.bizjournals. All Headline News Corp. it used an aging doctrine that was developed at a time when print newspapers ruled the day. filed in April 2008. based in Wellington.59 the AP demonstrated its resolve on intellectual property matters in very different way in Associated Press v.

of course. arguing that “this case is an attempt by Plaintiff Associated Press to crush by weight of litigation a small company that it views as a competitor in the business of online news distribution. the AP closed its argument on the hot news misappropriation cause of action by conjuring up the proverbial parade of horrors that would result in the absence of such a judicial decree: If Defendants are not enjoined from misappropriating AP’s efforts and investments in this manner. 72 Id. the acts of Defendants and other free-riders will so reduce AP’s incentive to gather and report the news that the existence and/or quality of the news services that AP provides to AP Members. 71 Memorandum in Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12 at 1. Both services are sold to the same potential customer base. at 20. 08 Civ. Most customers of news service only carry one service.” this effectively excludes AP from selling its service to that company or entity.”71 But it defended against the hot news misappropriation cause of action not primarily on the merits of the case. Supp. subscribers and other licensees.. Id.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 9 Striking to the economic heart of its hot news misappropriation claim. 608 F.70 AHN. n. AHN’s “news service” directly competes with AP’s own services. and Florida did not recognize such a legal theory. “Defendants are not aware of any Florida state court opinions that have recognized a theory of misappropriation like that asserted by Plaintiff here.72 As the attorneys for AHN and Brown wrote. . at 7. attempted to paint the case as a battle in the David-and-Goliath tradition. but rather by claiming that the law of Florida—not New York—applied. 73 Id. When a company or entity decides to subscribe to AHN’s “news service. 2d 454 (No. All Headline News Corp.74 as it claimed the hot news misappropriation doctrine found in International News Service was part of the federal common law that was later eliminated 69 70 Id. at 3-10. the AP asserted that AHN’s conduct is likely to usurp AP’s business relationships and opportunities. 323). at 9.69 Asking the court to enjoin AHN’s actions.”73 AHN also asserted that the International News Service opinion itself was no longer good law. will be substantially threatened.2. and thereby to the public. 74 Id.

For an in-depth discussion of the Erie Doctrine. controlled. 1375-76 (2008) (observing that “the Erie doctrine – the cornerstone of analysis of the relationship between federal and state law in federal courts – provides that federal courts. v. 79 All Headline News Corp. rejecting the notion of a ‘federal general common law’ to which federal courts had previously looked to find the applicable rule of decision”) (citations omitted).. L. “the Supreme Court overturned the previous rule of Swift v. Vol. Motorola. 2009).80 Id. 76 GEO. 2d 454. Converse-Erie: The Key to Federalism in an Increasingly Administrative State.78 Judge Castel articulated five elements that must be present for a successful cause of action for hot news misappropriation: (i) a plaintiff generates or gathers information at a cost.3d at 845).. with the court.Y. PROP.N. 608 F. and (v) the ability of other parties to free-ride on the efforts of the plaintiff or others would so reduce the incentive to produce the product or service that its existence or quality would be substantially threatened. 1372. 105 F.D. see generally Joseph R.3d 841 (2d Cir. U. Supp. as AHN’s motion to dismiss focused only on the pre-emption argument and the contention that Florida law. Oliveri. 608 F. (iv) the defendant is in direct competition with a product or service offered by the plaintiffs. 80 See All Headline News Corp. 461 (S. shall apply the substantive law of the forum state. 77 Id. All Headline News Corp. Supp. District Judge P. 2d at 458 (writing that the motion to dismiss the hot news misappropriation cause of action was based “on two grounds.” and adding that in Erie.75 These arguments failed to gain traction. Tyson. 105 F. (ii) the information is time-sensitive. 75 .” including the contention that “choice of law requires that plaintiff’s claim of misappropriation of hot news be considered under the law of Florida. 608 F. Tompkins.S. which. In February 2009. L. 1997) (involving the application of the hot news misappropriation tort in the context of a dispute about the transmission of scores and other data about NBA games in progress via paging devices)...S. Inc. has rejected such a cause of action” and the assertion “that a claim for misappropriation of hot news is preempted by the federal Copyright Act”).10 WAKE FOREST INTELL. however. 76 Associated Press v. Supreme Court in Erie Railroad Co. as he determined that the cause of action “remains viable under New York law”76 and is not pre-empted by federal copyright law.77 Quoting from a 1997 ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that also recognized such a theory under New York law.J.79 Judge Castel did not apply these elements to the facts of the case. defendants contend. 2d at 461 (quoting Motorola. Kevin Castel refused to dismiss the Associated Press’s hot news misappropriation claim. WASH. Supp.10 by the U. 78 See Nat’l Basketball Ass’n v. REV. (iii) a defendant’s use of the information constitutes free riding on the plaintiff's efforts. however. except in matters governed by the Constitution or federal statutes. rather than New York.

.S. Is It Journalism?.S. Supp. 2009) (on file with Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal). 82 Id. as he stated that “by preserving the economic incentive to gather and report hot Frame Flow Between Government and the News Media and its Effects on the Public: Framing of North Korea. 87 Posting of Ethan Ackerman. at 62.84 the agreement between the parties included a provision under which AHN acknowledged that “the tort of ‘hot news misappropriation’ has been upheld by other courts and was ruled applicable in this case by U. Significantly. OPINION RES. That said.” and dismissing the case without prejudice to reopening it within 60 days if the settlement was not consummated).”81 Colford also pointed out that the case was not simply about the AP’s right to make money.-based attorney who has worked in the U. 09:44 PST). 86 See generally Barb Palser. 2009) (on file with Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal). 204. Senate as technology counsel. AHN acknowledged paying the AP an 81 Press Release.associatedpress. June 2002.html. AP and AHN Media settle AP’s lawsuit against AHN Media and individual defendants (July 13. that the court was “advised that all claims asserted herein have been settled. 08 Civ. 2d 454 (No. to Technology & Marketing Law Blog. AM. http://blog.”82 This framing83 of the case attempts to place the AP in the noble position of protecting the public interest rather than casting it as a greedy entity trying to eliminate a competitor. 2009. 608 F. stated the “ruling reaffirms the viability of the hot news misappropriation doctrine. observed “settlements don’t validate legal theories. 83 See generally Jeongsub Lim & Hyunjin Seo. All Headline News Corp. available at http://www. D. in relevant part. . 323) (providing. JOURNALISM REV. 205-07 (2009) (providing an overview of the concept of framing and framing effects). the AP’s director of media relations. when the case settled. ## (discussing the concept of news aggregators and. a Washington. part of the settlement required AHN to pseudo-admit the viability of the hot news misappropriation (July 22.”85 This appears to be a warning shot fired by the AP—a shot targeting other news services and news aggregators86 like AHN—that the AP will use the same theory again to challenge their actions.html. 85 Press Release. District Court Judge P. 84 See Order of Dismissal at”87In its own—albeit much shorter—press release. 18. available at http://www. 21 INT’L J.ap.C. but the public’s right to receive information. Associated Press. in particular. and thereby protects AP’s investments in news gathering and reporting against copying by freeriders. Ethan K.ericgoldman. AP Statement on All Headline News Court Ruling (Feb. Associated Press. Kevin Castel. PUB. Ackerman.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 11 In lauding Judge Castel’s decision. court opinions do. Yahoo! News). this decision will further the public interest in having access to such news and also encourage the efforts of journalists. Paul Colford.

683 (1977).88 With this analysis of the Associated Press v.91 The dispute at issue between the two news services began when INS. United Press absorbed International News Service to become United Press International. and in the 1920s acquired others in Rochester. 1998). as well as a review of scholarly legal commentary about it. International News Service: William Randolph Hearst’s News Wire. Press Associations.. 94 Id. in 1 AMERICAN DECADES 350. L. 458 (Stanley I.. 2003). In the 1910s he bought two papers in Ithaca and combined them. 91 Laura Bergheim. laying the groundwork for the largest chain in the country”).12 WAKE FOREST INTELL. which had been formed in the mid-1800s. given time-zone differences.”93 By pilfering AP-based content from early editions of East Coast newspapers.10 undisclosed amount of money. in 6 DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN HISTORY 458. The twentieth-century trend toward newspaper consolidation began in earnest during the century’s first decade” and pointing out that “[i]n upstate New York Frank E. 93 Id. AP Settle Lawsuit (July 13. INS was actually able to beat the AP. Kutler ed. 682. the next part of this article turns to the development of the tort at issue in it. 92 Paul W. Associated Press was handed down in 1918.J. By 1932 it had half that number. AHN. PROP. II. All Headline News case in All Headline News. to the West Coast newspapers with the AP’s own content.allheadlinenews.94 As Professor Paul W. 1996) (writing that “[i]n 1890 New York had fifteen English-language daily newspapers.THE EVOLUTION OF THE HOT NEWS MISAPPROPRIATION TORT: A REVIEW OF LEGAL PRECEDENT AND SCHOLARLY LITERATURE The U. but it continued to deny the AP’s allegations.S. available at http://www. lacking international cables connecting Europe to the United States. 54 JOURNALISM Q.%2520AP%2520Settle %2520Lawsuit.. 350-51 (Vincent Tompkins ed. 88 . in HISTORY OF MASS MEDIA IN THE UNITED STATES: AN ENCYCLOPEDIA 275 (Margaret A. 89 “Let Munsey Kill It!”: The Birth of the Newspaper Chain. Press Release. a time when consolidation in the print newspaper industry was first beginning. Sullivan observes in an excellent Melvin Baker. News Piracy: An Interpretation of the Misappropriation Doctrine. 90 In 1958. 2009) (on file with Wake Forest Intellectual Property Law Journal). Vol. Richard A. and in other northeastern states. began “clipping news from AP member newspapers”92 and “copying it from AP bulletin boards. Schwarzlose. Utica. Blanchard. Gannett bought a partial interest in the Elmira Gazette in 1906 and then merged it with the Elmira Star. Supreme Court’s decision in International News Service v. Sullivan. ed.89 Media mogul William Randolph Hearst had created what would become the International News Service90 (“INS”) some twelve years earlier to compete against the Associated Press.

the “AP objected that some of its own members in the western part of the country were not receiving the news as quickly as INS customers were receiving the pirated news. but the right to distribute. 457 U. Martin v. As Professor Eric Easton writes. Justice Pitney and the majority of the court sided with the Associated Press. Island Trees Union Free Sch. expressing deep concern about what it considered to be unfair competition by INS and finding a quasi property right in the fresh news stories that it spent time.”96 As described in the Introduction.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 13 examination of the case that should be read by anyone wanting a complete analysis of it.S. Associated Press. 547 (2004). and money. and labor to gather and produce. to both of them alike. but only as against its competitors. Griswold v. organization.. and to be distributed and sold to those who will pay money for it. 97 See supra footnotes 43-45 and accompanying text (describing Justice Pitney’s opinion for the majority of the high court). Pico.”95 Importantly. 27 COLUM.97 The property interest held by the AP. 98 Int’l News Serv. 26 v. money. Who Owns ’The First Rough Draft of History?’: Reconsidering Copyright in News. Easton. 99 See Bd. For. to be gathered at the cost of enterprise. is stock in trade. & ARTS 521. v. 96 95 . of Educ. labor. the “AP argued that securing copyright for its dispatches was impractical and that those dispatches were beyond the scope of the Copyright Act. and political freedom”). however little susceptible of ownership or dominion in the absolute sense.98 From a public policy perspective that centers on an unenumerated First Amendment right to receive speech. And although we may and do assume that neither party has any remaining property interest as against the public in uncopyrighted news matter after the moment of its first publication.99 this is an Id. skill. 867 (1982) (opining that “the right to receive ideas is a necessary predicate to the recipient's meaningful exercise of his own rights of speech. as for any other merchandise. press. the right to receive. was not as against all of the world or the newspaper reading public.L. No. 479. Connecticut. Dist. the right to read”). writing: The question here is not so much the rights of either party as against the public but their rights as between themselves. 482 (1965) (writing that “the right of freedom of speech and press includes not only the right to utter or to print. news matter. 215. Eric B. Justice Pitney made clear. 381 U.S. Struthers. 248 U. J.S. 853. it by no means follows that there is no remaining property interest in it as between themselves. the AP did not argue that its stories were copyrighted. AP’s property interest lay exclusively in protecting its business from freeriders. 236 (1918) (emphasis added) (citation omitted).

100 Int’l News Serv. but against rival businesses. 248 U. Int’l News Serv. Vol. • Forbidden: “the bodily appropriation of another’s labor in accumulating and stating information. at 241 (emphasis added).. lasting only so long as the news at issue is fresh. 245 F. without complying with the copyright act. 447 (2008). “the negative obligation of the Anglo-American common law to avoid committing nuisance” reflects an approach that “is captured by the sic utere tuo maxim. 9 VT. It suggests that the majority opinion is not intended to deprive the public of news but is. In other words. 101 Int’l News Serv. the quasi property interest held in news is ephemeral. at 243. 244. 745.J. but only postpones participation by complainant’s competitor in the processes of distribution and reproduction of news that it has not gathered..”101 The Court here drew another dichotomy. 753 (2009). etc. or. As Professor Gregory Alexander recently observed.10 important dichotomy. . 102 Id.S. 431. L. even as against a rival/competitor. The Social-Obligation Norm in American Property. J. The phrase “sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas” reflects an ancient common law maxim in nuisance law that means “use your own so as not to injure another. PROP. Alexander.” Gregory S. and only to the extent necessary to prevent that competitor from reaping the fruits of complainants efforts and expenditure. and in violation of the principle that underlies the maxim sic utere tuo. ENVTL.S. REV. As Justice Pitney wrote: [T]he view we adopt does not result in giving to complainant the right to monopolize either the gathering or the distribution of the news. only intended to provide profit and incentive for the gathering of that news by depriving another business entity—a rival/competitor—from profiting from it. to prevent the reproduction of its news articles. the hot news misappropriation doctrine that was to emerge from the case was not to be used against the public.S. Guth. L. (quoting Associated Press v. instead. The court also made it clear that.14 WAKE FOREST INTELL. this time between the uses that a rival could properly make of a competitor’s fresh news content: • Permissible: Use the information as a tip to be independently investigated and corroborated for one’s own story. 248 U. 94 CORNELL L. to the partial exclusion of complainant. Law for the Ecological Age.” Joseph H.100 Finally. and if verified by independent investigation the news thus gathered is sold. 1917)). 141.. 143 (1943) (writing that the First Amendment freedom to distribute literature “necessarily protects the right to receive it”).”102 319 U. 247 (2d Cir. Justice Pitney and the majority attempted to make it clear that the misappropriation cause of action could not be used to prevent or thwart one competitor from taking “the news of a rival agency as a ‘tip’ to be investigated.

2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 15 In summary. INS. at least in the opinion of the authors of this article: 1. For instance. 3. Raskind blasts the “‘quasi-property’ foundation on which the INS majority relied”107 in order to side with the AP and divine a theory of misappropriation as “question-begging. however. last only while the news is fresh and.”104rights that the AP possessed in its fresh news as against a direct competitor.105 These rights. at 92. 104 103 . 107 Leo J. 241 (1918) (emphasis added). Raskind. L. A rival is free to use a competitor’s fresh news for purposes of providing it with a tip or lead to be independently investigated and produced as its own news story. REV. Epstein. in addition. in which INS “took AP news in Int’l News Serv. 875. 108 Id. 75 MINN.’”109 in Raskind’s words. 112 (1992). 2. The quasi property right in news that is instilled by the tort does not last forever against a rival. is one of the fundamental reasons that International News Service is criticized by legal scholars. The majority opinion in International News Service has been the subject of much legal commentary and writing over the years. 900 (1991). 215.”108Raskind suggests that the majority’s concern with unfair competition—the “unique commercial ‘dirty trick. University of Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein observes that Justice Pitney’s opinion “rests upon the idea of property rights in news. however. the majority opinion. 78 VA. v.’ which is good only for a short period of time (less than a day) and then only against the direct competitor of the plaintiff”). 109 Id.S. 106 See id. For example. seemed to place three limitations on it. 85.106 This echoes two of the three limitations set forth above. The notion of finding a property right in news. Richard A. REV. 248 U. 105 Id. at 881. Professor Leo J. L. at 114 (observing that Justice “Pitney describes the defendant’s interest in its news as ‘quasi property. Associated Press. hence the idea that it merely is a “hot news” tort. Associated Press: Custom and Law as Sources of Property Rights in News. only against a direct competitor. The Misappropriation Doctrine as a Competitive Norm of Intellectual Property Law. It can only be used by one rival against another rival. but merely “postpones participation”103 in the news by the rival. International News Service v. although failing to clearly delineate the precise elements of the hot news misappropriation tort that would evolve from the International News Service case. not against the public.

Baird. As Professor Douglas G. it had not copyrighted them. Common Law Intellectual Property and the Legacy of International News Service v.J. at 415 (quoting U. I. Professor L. § 8. 40 VAND. PROP. 50 U.111 Others also object to the notion of using a property right to protect information. Baird writes. skill. 115 L.10 order to have a saleable product”110 and passed it off as its own work—should not have led it to adopt a property foundation for grounding the opinion. 114 Id.’”112 Another criticism of the International News Service decision relates to the separation of powers and roles between judges and legislators. 241. L. 59 (1987). although the AP’s stories were copyrightable. cl. 246 (2005). 1. at 885. “[critics] argue that judges are poorly situated to identify the policies at stake in an intellectual property dispute and that judges therefore should not recognize intellectual property rights until the legislature has done so. & COMM.16 WAKE FOREST INTELL.116 As a copyright case in the United States. Ray Patterson. effort and investment of time and money involved in creating information ‘products. Copyright. Professor Michael Pendleton describes what he calls “the inappropriateness of property as a conceptual/legal device for ordering rights among the groups of persons who have legitimate interests in protecting as well as accessing (within limits) the substantial labour. L. at 886-87. not by a court-created doctrine that 110 111 Id. As Raskind writes: Introducing the concept of “quasi-property” diverts the inquiry. Ray Patterson observes that International News Service actually “can be viewed as a copyright case in the guise of unfair competition”115 because. REV. Free Speech. 116 Id. TECH. REV. . and Fair Use. 112 Michael D. 417 (1983). The defect in the majority opinion is that it relies on a legal doctrine relating to the marketing side of competition [passing off] and cloaks that doctrine with the status of property. CHI. 8). Balancing Competing Interests in Information Products: A Conceptual Rethink.S. 411. Pendleton. The majority then sought to provide an analysis of a taking of an undefined property interest in the context of a competitive market in which taking is the very nature of the relationship. L. Associated Press. Id. 113 Douglas G.”113 Supporting this proposition that legislators should create the law here is the idea that “the federal system of intellectual property derives from the clause of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to give authors and inventors exclusive rights to their writings and discoveries for a limited time for the purpose of promoting ‘the Progress of Science and useful Arts. L.’”114In this line. at 58-59. CONST. it would be governed by legislative rules. 14 INFO. Vol. art.

. at 249 (Brandeis. after voluntary communication to others.119 while Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.117 More generally but certainly not less importantly. at 246-248 (Holmes. 665. Certainly. Information as Goods: Some Thoughts on Marketplaces and the Bill of Rights. REV. the right of exclusion is qualified. at 881. dissenting). and has a value for which others are willing to pay. free as the air to common use. 120 Id. J. 121 Id. He opined: An essential element of individual property is the legal right to exclude others from enjoying it. that the noblest of human productions – knowledge.S. Information as Speech. v.122 Brandeis also emphasized the danger to the right of the public to receive information that might be affected by extending a property Raskind. as Professor Raskind contends. activities. 248-267 (1918) (Brandeis. Jr. As Professor Diane Zimmerman writes about the majority’s rationale that hard work and effort in gathering news should be rewarded with property rights for exclusive use: Taken at face value. In particular. issued a very brief concurrence that was joined by Justice Joseph McKenna. the right of exclusion may be absolute. The general rule of law is. 215. the majority opinion has been criticized as being at odds with the First Amendment freedom of speech.120 Brandeis. who parsimoniously defined news as “a report of recent occurrences. 33 WM. or intellectual efforts of someone else – and that the First Amendment is not offended by the requirement that the user first bargain for that right with the source of the value. dissenting).2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 17 was. and ideas – become.118 Given these criticisms of the opinion. 118 117 . 248 U. if the property is affected with a public interest. J. 119 Int’l News Serv. J. 122 Id. truths ascertained. Diane Leenheer Zimmerman. Associated Press.”121 objected to the idea that news is property. If the property is private. 722 (1992). But the fact that a product of the mind has cost its producer money and labor. this principle suggests that property rules are appropriately applied whenever someone exploits for profit information generated by the personality. & MARY L. conceptions. launched “in an ad hoc fashion” to fill a vacuum in favor of the Associated Press. no evidence suggests that First Amendment jurisprudence has ever accepted this view. at 250.. it is not surprising that the justices themselves split in International News Service. supra note 107. is not sufficient to ensure to it this legal attribute of property.. Justice Louis Brandeis dissented at length. concurring).

1989). Inc. Sept. 2d 836 (S. Int’l Sec. Federal Criminal Fraud and the Development of Intangible Property Rights in Information.N. 704 F.D. PGA Tour. 695 (2000). 124 123 . Md. Inc. Id.D. No. Supp. Nash v. 125 Geraldine Szott Moohr. v.D. v.Y. P. Brandeis believed that “a new rule. 2005 U. could injure the general public. 683. Laconis. Inc. Gannett Satellite Info. and the facts of this case admonish us of the danger involved in recognizing such a property right in news.18 WAKE FOREST INTELL. Inc. Dist. 1383 (E. Cal.. 928 (W. 1994). X17 v. 2009). 126 Id. 1980). 1982). 563 F. but centered instead on the real-time transmission of NBA game scores and statistics. ILL. Moody’s Investors Serv. v. PROP.”123 Even if one were to extend such a right. 1984).S. Supp. 3:08-cv-2135.N. Press. Inc. 823 (N. Inc. 117 F.T. Supp. Inc. Morris Commc’ns..Y. LEXIS 18674 (S.. 2005). 501 F. Fla. Wilkes-Barre Publ’g Co. Rock Valley Cmty. Scranton Times v. REV. 6. Motorola. taken from television and radio broadcasts of games in progress. writing that “courts are ill-equipped to make the investigations which should precede a determination of the limitations which should be set upon any property right in news or of the circumstances under which news gathered by a private agency should be deemed affected with a public interest. Scholastic. 127 See. Stouffer. Supp. at 263.Y. 1986). v. is National Basketball Ass’n v. Lavandeira. Supp. No. No. Mar.1129(HB). Brandeis opined that such a decision should be made by a legislative body.D. 128 105 F. v. CBS. Films v. 2000 U. v. given its decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Supp.2d 204 (2d Cir. 2d 737 (D. Schuchart & Assocs.D. Inc. 2009 WL 585502 (M.3d 841 (2d Cir.S. Inc. Nat’l Basketball Ass’n v.... without imposing upon news-gatherers corresponding obligations.. unless carefully crafted. Legg Mason. 05 Civ. not a judicial one. L. v. 2d 1322 (M.. 2003). Inc. Nation Enters. at 267.127 but probably the most important opinion for purposes of the AP’s case against AHN.D. via a paging device manufactured by Motorola and compiled by a service Id.”125 and thus “preferred a rule that encouraged free use of knowledge and ideas. Motorola. Vol.D.J. 2000). 105 F. 808 F. Inc.S. v. 2007). Solo Serve Corp. Lowry’s Reports. Tex. 1997). 588 F.10 right in news..I. Dist.”124 Brandeis here seemed clearly concerned about potential harm to the public’s interest in news that might be caused by the majority’s holding. Supp. LEXIS 15736 (N. 540 F.128 The case did not involve either news stories or news agencies. writing that an extension of property rights in news would lead to “a corresponding curtailment of the free use of knowledge and of ideas. 2000). Mich..g.”126 A number of lower federal court opinions have since considered. Network. at 696.D. As Professor Geraldine Szott Moohr observes. 1. 2d 1102 (C. the viability and elements of the hot news misappropriation tort.D. Exch. 848 (S..D.. 271 F. Harper & Row Publishers.N. Ill. Inc. 93 C 20244. Pa.. 1994 U. Inc. McGraw-Hill Cos. 124 F. e.. Fin. to varying degrees. L. Corp. Info. Ill. Supp.3d 841.

105 F. 630-31 (2008) (observing that today’s news content is delivered on “multiple media platforms” and “delivered by the Internet.”136 Conversely. The Second Circuit in Motorola interpreted the Supreme Court’s International News Service decision as founded on the goal of “the protection of property rights in time-sensitive information so that the information will be made available to the public by profit-seeking entrepreneurs. 131 See supra note 81 and accompanying text. the appellate court in Motorola called the hot news misappropriation tort “properly narrowed. CULTURE AND CONTROL OF INFORMATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE:RAMIFICATIONS OF THE HOT NEWS MISAPPROPRIATION TORT The hot news misappropriation tort originated in 1918 when people obtained their news via newspapers.135 an August 2008 report by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. BlackBerrys and iPhones. (ii) there is a free-riding defendant. for instance.pdf. a viable hot news misappropriation claim will only survive preemption by the Federal Copyright Act if three key thingsare present: (i) the factual information at issue is time sensitive. the proportion of Americans who say they get news online at least three days a week has Id. Today. at 845. then a court will turn to the five elements of the tort itself. 130 129 . more often than by newspaper delivery boys and girls”). The Future of Newspapers. 9 JOURNALISM STUD. pod casts and mobile telephony.130 and it articulated the same five elements131 of the cause of action spelled out by Judge Castel in the AP’s battle against AHN. http://people-press.129 The case is important for two primary reasons: it recognized the existence of the hot news misappropriation tort in New York. FOR THE PEOPLE & THE PRESS.”132 suggesting it is cabined quite closely by the Second Circuit.134 If it survives preemption. 136 PEW RESEARCH CTR. the proportion of Americans saying they read a newspaper on a typical day has declined by about 40%. found that “since the early 1990s. people get their news on the Internet. Id. at 843-44. as well as on television and even Twitter. 132 Motorola. 133 Id.NEWS. at 853. and (iii) there is a threat to the very existence of the product or service provided by the plaintiff.3d at 848. In specifying those elements.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 19 called Sports Team Analysis and Tracking Systems. the same survey found that “since 2006. AUDIENCE SEGMENTS IN A CHANGING NEWS ENVIRONMENT 3 (2008).”133 As III. 134 Id. 630. 135 See Bob Franklin.

139 and as the Philadelphia Inquirer observed. And it is also easier than ever for less-scrupulous outlets to appropriate that news and label it their own. with thousands of media outlets available at the click of a mouse. Tweeting Twitter Seriously. Say. In the new digital content economy. it has played “a growing role in disseminating news and organizing social and protest movements. Licensing of this content by our members is critical to support our news operations. 1. TELEGRAPH HERALD (Dubuque.20 WAKE FOREST INTELL. however. As Brian Cooper. This situation has serious consequences: it dilutes the value of news for licensors and advertisers. http://twitter. 2009.10 increased from 31% to 37%.”140 Might the use of the hot news misappropriation tort hinder or otherwise stanch the flow of news in such a faster-is-better world? The dramatic changes in the speed at which news is conveyed. delete credit lines and – voila!141 The Associated Press clearly is concerned about the ease at which such piracy can occur. 2008. the executive editor of the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque. it is easier than ever to follow news events anywhere – from your hometown to the other side of the world. 2009. June 3. S. As the website for Twitter states. Vol. 140 John Timpane. (last visited Sept. as well as the manner and mode of its receipt. at 4. “In countries all around the world. it fragments and disperses content so widely that consumers end up relying on fragmented coverage to get their news Id. CHRON. paste.. July 30. can be a double-edged sword when intellectual property concerns are put into the equation. 141 Brian Cooper. It explains on its website why it has chosen to fight such battles so aggressively: The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news cooperative that spends hundreds of millions of dollars every year gathering and sharing news of public interest from around the world. INQUIRER. Iowa. About Twitter.F. at A1 (noting that Twitter has 21 million users and describing how it turns ordinary people into popular figures on the service). Where Did That News Story Come From?. L. at A1.J. Iowa). 2009) (emphasis added). people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends. July 27. a significant amount of AP news and news from AP members is used without permission or fair compensation. 138 137 . recently observed: In this Internet Age. at A4. PHILA.”138 Twitter has more than 20 million users.”137 We also live in a culture that thrives on the constant flow of information. Simply copy. Virtually Famous Folks. 139 See Verne Kopytoff.

“In Boise. 1.144 The AP’s win in federal court against AHN gives it more leverage to obtain further settlements in the future. 2009). In other Associated (Feb 26. Nueburger points out the AP had previously been successful in obtaining settlements from other online news aggregators. 2009. Radio.”143 An adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law. Opinion: AP’s Suit Over Theft of ‘Hot News’ Should Rattle TV.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE despite the availability of comprehensive and authoritative coverage on a 24-hour basis. “have become ubiquitous on the Internet. 146 Id. 144 Id.145 The practice of rip-and-read journalism on the radio may be increasing today. TRI-CITY HERALD (Kennewick. 20. As journalist Ken Robertson of the Tri-City Herald in Washington State wrote in early 2009: [I]t’s common practice for radio and TV “news” readers to simply rip their stories off from their local newspaper. All Headline News Corp.”146 The AP’s newspaper clients—who pay for and work together with the AP—might now invoke the hot news misappropriation tort to forbid a local radio station from reading its stories on the air.associatedpress. as economic pressures mean that “radio and TV stations have even smaller staffs and thus even less time to do any original reporting and must rely more and more on rip and read. http://newmedialaw. 143 Posting of Jeffrey D.).”147 Robertson writes. This kind of theft has been commonplace for decades. Idaho. Neuburger writes. 2009). Robertson points out. Protecting AP’s Intellectual Property. Feb. Neuburger to New Media & Technology Law Blog. including Google News and 145 Ken Robertson. Perhaps one of the most interesting questions involving the ramifications of Associated Press v. Wash. http://www. is whether the hot news misappropriation doctrine can be successfully used to squelch the speech of bloggers and citizen journalists who make use of online news like that conveyed by the AP.142 21 The AP’s actions likely have a large impact on so-called online news aggregating sites that.html (last visited Sept. seldom bothering to credit the newspaper. for example. 147 Id. 142 . at Commentary. and we newspaper people called it “rip and read” and joked that you could often hear the sound of the newspaper being folded on the air. the newspaper has told AP to forbid Boise radio and TV stations from using the newspaper’s news that is shared on the AP wire. as attorney Jeffrey D.proskauer. The potential ramifications of the AP’s current use of the hot news misappropriation tort stretch beyond the Internet to also affect television and radio journalism.

845 (2d Cir. made at a fundraiser in San Francisco. Motorola.”150 The operations of the Associated Press or a news service like the United Press International151 simply are not in “direct competition” with the Reno v. Paul Farhi. UPI is a global operation with offices in Beirut. All Headline News Corp. When Clinton launched into a tirade about the article's author. the fourth element of the tort as framed by Judge Castel in Associated Press v. failing to identify herself) asked about an unflattering profile of him in Vanity Fair.N. . too. JOURNALISM REV. 150 Associated Press v. and a news service like the AP on the other side. but from a blogger named Mayhill Fowler. Seoul and Tokyo. she was admitted to the closed event because she was an Obama contributor.upi. All Headline News Corp. 2009. former New York Times reporter Todd Purdum (“sleazy!” “a scumbag!”). Why? Because the elements of the hot news misappropriation cause of action frame the tort so narrowly that most cases involving bloggers and citizen journalists on one side of the case. 31. will the hot news doctrine jeopardize the rapid and free exchange of information on what the U. 868 (1997). http://about. 608 F.S. at 28. 151 The United Press International describes itself as “a leading provider of critical information to media outlets.10 words. 1997)). 2009) (citing Nat’l Basketball Ass’n v.” (Fowler never identified herself as a blogger. could a blogger who gets a scoop and breaks an important political news story be able to own the story.Motorola— requires the plaintiff to prove that “the defendant is in direct competition with a product or service offered by the plaintiffs. as it were. governments and researchers worldwide. Supreme Court once called “the vast democratic forums of the Internet?”148 Conversely. and posted it online. ACLU. 2009). AM. Using her own money to follow the campaign around the country. 5. as Paul Farhi recently noted in the American Journalism Review: Two of the biggest campaign trail scoops came not from a professional journalist. businesses. simply would not fall within it.22 WAKE FOREST INTELL.) In June she encountered Bill Clinton at a rally in South Dakota and (again. Hong Kong. that “bitter” small-town voters “cling to guns and religion.. L.D. Santiago. for a brief amount of time—as long it is “hot” news—and thereby stifle its dissemination to the wider public that relies on information conveyed by news services like the Associated Press? This is particularly important because. (last visited Sept. 521 U. In particular. London..” About United Press International.149 The answer to each these questions would generally seem to be no.S. . 2008-Jan.J. 844. Fowler recorded that.Y. the 61-year-old Fowler recorded Obama’s comments. 149 148 .—and quoting the Second Circuit’s opinion in National Basketball Ass’n v. PROP.3d 841. 105 F. Vol. Supp. 2d 454. 461 (S. Off the Bus. .

The tort will only be successful if there are rivals in direct competition with each other. and websites across the country with a constant and steady stream of information and different formats of mediated content—and consistently discover the same type of information that is dug up “by skilled reporters working beats day in and day out. at 16. For instance. Burris Scoops Show How Much Newspapers Matter.152 The stereotypical “blogger in his pajamas. 14. without either attribution or permission.. to put it bluntly. communications and administrative employees worldwide. the blogger certainly may have violated fundamental ethical tenets of journalism prohibiting plagiarism. BIRMINGHAM NEWS (Ala.html (last visited For Now.spj. 8. and video. CHI.” merely “piggyback on the real work done by real reporters”). for that matter. 2009. 1. Code of Ethics.g. photos. Q.”154 The AP can. Carl Carter.100 editorial. WASH. 2009. See generally 152 . may hit an important scoop from time to time. zerotolerance policies. 155 For instance. the ethics code of the Society of Professional Journalists bluntly admonishes journalists to “never plagiarize. 26. 153 This phrase is often used by the news media themselves to stereotype bloggers. http://www. SUN-TIMES. both may supply important information that many people may consider to be news.ap. See Norman P. the Associated Press: 1) has more than 240 bureaus in 97 countries. along with “cell-phone photographers. Logan Jenkins.155 but surely he or she has not committed the tort of hot news misappropriation. 2007. Lewis. at B2 (arguing in favor of the importance of traditional newspapers and contending that there is “no way can a loose network of bloggers in pajamas – or. Mar. at M1 (using the twin phrases “bloggers in their pajamas” and “pajamas media”). 5.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 23 services provided by a blogger or citizen journalist. e. 353. Jan. Politics 24/7: No One Can Hear You Scream. SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIB. 85 JOURNALISM & MASS COMM. audio. 2009). 154 Editorial. radio stations. time-challenged broadcast outlets – match our concerted effort to inform in detailed depth”). at 1F (contending that “bloggers in pajamas” cannot replace mainstream newspapers because those bloggers.). and fallout from the 2003 Jayson Blair episode”). and 4) offers to its members news.”153 in comparison. Bloggers simply are not news services. 3) is owned by its 1. 2) features Feb. be in many different places at one time. but merely trafficking in similar information does not put them in direct competition. What’s the Future of the U-T? Read On. Plagiarism Antecedents & Situational Influences. See. Marc Fisher. available at http://www. the isolated blogger simply cannot. but he or she simply does not fulfill the same function— supplying newspapers. as his or her own work.500 newspaper members. despite universal prohibitions. Who Will Pay for the News? The Internet has Walloped Newspapers. 353 (2008) (observing that “plagiarism seems to stick to journalism like a leech. If the AP thus sued an individual blogger for taking one of its breaking news stories and posting it on the blogger’s website. 2009. Oct. 2009). spanning the globe. POST. graphics.pdf (last visited Sept. Associated Press.” Society of Professional Journalists.Facts & Figures.. 17.

Those interests. The question really centers on defining the precise scope and range of the protection to which it should be entitled. San Diego. Ten Years Backwards and Forwards. against rival news services and news aggregators. and judgment are as or more important than ever”157 in the world of journalism and reasoning that “one need not idealize the newspaper press to recognize that to this day television. would seem to be at least threefold: • the interests of the AP as the gatherer and creator of the newsstories. and online news feed off the basic reporting that to an overwhelming extent comes from organizations whose economic survival no one knows how to guarantee. the Associated Press should be entitled to some form of qualified protection for its time. and users of the news stories. concluding that “matters of professional training.J. Pendleton. . supra note 114. in particular news aggregators. recipients. L.10 Ultimately. at 246 (identifying a very similar list of competing interests that must be taken into account in any dispute over intellectual property where time and labor are expended to gather and produce information).”158 In other words.24 WAKE FOREST INTELL. Plagiarism and the News Media. and efforts in gathering breaking news. instead providing a platform for established news producers and access for users to multiple news sources. 157 Michael Schudson. radio. Arguably the most popular online news portal. 156 Cf. • the interests of the AP’s competitors and. 370 (2009). as it gathers information and writes news stories. Vol.. 158 Id. addressed that same issue in 2009. even if that difference stems from a desire for economic survival. there remains a fundamental difference in quality and content that separates professional journalists from bloggers and citizen journalists. when the public (the third possessor of an interest noted above) can obtain information from so-called citizen journalists and bloggers so readily today? Professor Michael Schudson of the University of California. given the competing interests at stake. allows users Marie Dunne White. MASS MEDIA ETHICS 265 (1989) (discussing the concept of plagiarism and the related issue of lack of attribution in news media ethics).156 In light of these three interests. and • the interests of the audience. Yahoo!News. labor. one might ask the following threshold question: Why is it important to protect the Associated Press in the first place. PROP. but not against bloggers or citizen journalists. 10 JOURNALISM 368. According to a 2007 article published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly: Aggregators produce little original news content. experience. 4 J. in the opinion of the authors of this article.

at 29. recently wrote in Columbia Journalism entertainment—from various sources including Associated Press (AP).”162 they are not in the practice of regularly breaking news stories and subscribing to journalistic principles of neutrality and supposed objectivity. 84 JOURNALISM & MASS COMM. and others. COLUM. Q. as David Simon. 36. however. 35. but add commentary to them as well. competitor aggregators. Reuters. The Objectivity Norm in American Journalism.. preemption and the viability of the hot news misappropriation theory under New York law). such as Google News. 163 See generally Michael Schudson. 2009.”161 The interests of society and the reading public—the third possessor of an interest identified above by the authors of this article—require the economic viability of professional news services because while “amateur journalistsmay have wise and clever things to say.160 it is clear that. 160 See supra notes 78-79 and accompanying text (describing how Judge Castel only considered the issues of choice of law. Lack of permission. July-Aug. such as MSNBC. A recent Pew study determined that 23% of online news consumers chose Yahoo!News. have lost users.163 Finally. at 36. science. 162 Michael Shapiro. “the relationships between newspapers and online aggregators—not to mention The Associated Press and Reuters—will have to be revisited and revised. Build the Wall. 161 David Simon. COLUM. 811. 811 (2007). The Efficiency of Constructed Week Sampling for Content Analysis of Online News. business. and CNN. 164 Neuburger. 2 JOURNALISM 149 (2001) (discussing objectivity in journalism).159 25 When a news aggregator has permission and explicit authorization from a company or news service to post links to its feeds. Agence France-Presse (AFP). . 2009.. CNN. JOURNALISM REV. Neuburger calls “the more difficult and complex questions concerning the use of news reports by bloggers and others who do not merely excerpt and link to online news reports such as those produced by the AP.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE to identify favorite topics—politics. Open for Business. JOURNALISM REV. it would seem that legal analysis of such blogger-added-commentary situations should 159 Joe Bob Hester & Elizabeth Dougall. raises the distinct possibility.”164 In the opinion of the authors of this article. a writer and former Baltimore Sun reporter. and online news providers. supra note 145. and while Yahoo!News usage has continued to increase. there clearly is no possibility of a hot news misappropriation claim. it is important to note that Judge Castel did not address what attorney Jeffrey D. While Judge Castel did not address the actual merits of such a scenario involving a news aggregator versus a news service.

L.”). as the fair-use statute asks courts to factor in “the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole. evolution.”169 This issue. That case also was settled for undisclosed 171 See supra notes 109-23 and accompanying text (providing the commentary of other legal scholars on the high court’s decision in International News Service).CONCLUSION This article has attempted to illustrate the origin. VeriSign Inc..). and its parent.J. 2009.165 In particular. More Trouble Ahead for Copyright Scofflaws.C. In addition. including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes”). at 369. for using AP headlines.C. § 107(3) (2006). the smaller the portion of the original article that is appropriated for purpose of commentary. photos and stories without permission. July 14. 167 Id. § 107(1) (2006) (providing that courts should consider. http://www. 17 U.S. [the Associated Press] sued Moreover Technologies Inc. 168 See id. as one communication scholar recently put it. the principles of unfair competition and reap/sow equity that gave rise in International News Service v. Wash.html (“In 2007. and the article now turns to the Conclusion to offer some ideas of future research and to summarize some of its own findings.172 but it was the first time this century that the AP has coaxed a very favorable judicial ruling to use as precedent in See 17 U. “in the midst of an epochal transformation of the news media. of course. such commentary might even be considered a form of “news reporting”167 protected as a fair use. IV.tricityherald. 166 165 . and continuing viability of the hot news misappropriation doctrine nearly a century after it was first developed and at a time when we are. Opinion.171 The AP’s lawsuit against AHN was not the first time in recent years the venerable news service has sued a business for allegedly ripping off its content.166 In fact. 169 Id. Vol.”170 While the news media and the very nature of journalism may be changing today. “the purpose and character of the use. despite the scholarly criticism of them reviewed earlier in this article. TRICITY HERALD (Kennewick.10 incorporate and borrow fair-use factors from copyright law. If the blogger is not making a commercial profit—per the first fair use factor168—this too would militate in favor of protecting such a use in a blogger-addedcommentary situation. remains unresolved. supra note 159. § 107 specifically notes that criticism and comment of an otherwise copyrighted work may be protected. PROP. when making a fair-use determination. Associated Press to the hot news misappropriation remain vital.26 WAKE FOREST INTELL. Id. 172 See Ken Robertson. § 107 (2006) (setting forth four fair-use factors). 170 Schudson. the better for the blogger.

tees up media ethics issues. 175 See X17. 1. 563 F. 174 A discussion of the jurisdictional issues and choice-of-law issues is beyond the scope of this article. 2007) (involving a case about the use of photographs by Mario Lavandeira. NY).org/pages/contact/contact.178 there may even be a fundamental issue of whether what AHN allegedly did with the AP’s stories even constitutes plagiarism. at 355. another state with a large concentration of media entities—California—also recognizes the hot news misappropriation doctrine and recently has applied it to images. Supp. 178 Lewis. v. who does business under the name Perez Hilton. but they are beyond the scope of this law-focused article. such that it can haul defendants into. There have been lawsuits filed over the alleged stealing of sources.175 The fact that both New York and California recognize the hot news misappropriation tort brings increased power to the media companies headquartered there to fight back against nefarious competitors. 2d 1102.173 within a jurisdiction that recognizes the hot news misappropriation tort. Wenner.177 and that moniker perhaps provides an apt way of viewing AHN’s conduct that. quite literally. in turn. at 16. Future articles should address the ethical aspects of AHN’s conduct and that of similar entities and news aggregators. Given that there are even ambiguities about what constitutes plagiarism in journalism. its home court within the Second Circuit. not simply news stories. 1107 (C. The Associated Press thus may also consider itself fortunate that it is headquartered in New York City. It’s My Source and I’ll Sue If I Want To. 33rd St. supra note 157. is highly competitive.174 Significantly.179 much See Associated Press. It is worth noting here. Contact AP. AM. Cal. The news business. 179 See Kathryn S. at 267.ap. Inc. that the term plagiarism—a cardinal sin in journalism ethics176 —is derived from the Latin word for kidnapper. 177 White. of course. AHN’s alleged conduct of stripping AP’s stories of attribution and having them masquerade as AHN’s own work raises perhaps as many worthy ethical issues—business ethics and journalism ethics— as legal ones.D. Oct 2001. 176 See supra note 157 and accompanying text (discussing plagiarism and journalism ethics).2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 27 other cases in which it invokes the hot news misappropriation doctrine in New York. in a case involving celebrity gossip-monger Perez Hilton.. in New York. supra note 157.html (last visited Sept. JOURNALISM REV. (describing a lawsuit filed in California 173 . Lavandeira. and holding that “the hot news tort is cognizable in California”). as University of Florida Professor Norman Lewis recently pointed out in a detailed study. however. 2009) (identifying the AP’s headquarters as being located at 450 W. 16. http://www.

PROP. in Scranton Times v. heard on the merits. Mar. on the specific facts of the case.S. in other words. 2009 WL 585502 (M. For instance. L.181 United States District Judge A. does this mean that a concomitantly briefer period of quasi property ownership.28 WAKE FOREST INTELL. . Richard Caputo did not reject the possible existence of a hot news misappropriation claim within Pennsylvania and the U. the tort that exists (at least in New York) is quite narrowly articulated and seems unlikely to quash the work of bloggers and citizen journalists in situations where they might be sued by the Associated Press. it focused.J. 2009). When a court finally addresses the actual merits of such a case on the five specific elements of the hot news misappropriation doctrine. and that other news entities beyond the AP would invoke it.10 less the stealing of news stories. For now.D. the claim was preempted by federal copyright law because “the Defendant’s alleged copying and re-use of obituaries originally found in Plaintiffs’ publications did not pose a threat to the existence of Plaintiffs’ publications or the ability of those publications to continue the timely publication of obituaries. as this article has illustrated. does news become cold? As our social expectations of faster and quicker news delivery change due to technology. at **12-14. on the allegation that the print edition of one newspaper was copying from the various websites of the other newspaper’s obituaries. Finally. digital communication. 182 Id. Wilkes-Barre Publishing Co. Pa.”182 But future battles are more likely to occur in scenarios like those involving the Associated Press and All Headline News Corporation. 6. 3:08-cv-2135. the doctrine was at the heart of a dispute in 2009 between the Scranton Times and the Times Leader. should be allowed under the hot news misappropriation tort? Although one attorney recently proposed a very precise formula for such situations under copyright law (rather than the common law hot news misappropriation tort at issue in International News involving competing journals that cover the wood and pulp industries and centering on the claim that the sources used by one of the journals were its trade secrets and could not be used by its former employees who went to work for the rival publication). Vol. 181 Id. it is not surprising that the hot news doctrine would be used today. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 180 No. instead. per a 91year-old case. but he did find that. it will trigger an opinion meriting a further scholarly analysis. When. Thus.180 The dispute did not exactly involve what one might typically consider to be news. is determining for exactly how long news actually remains “hot” or “fresh” in a world of instantaneous. more than ninety years after it was created. at **1-2. it seems that one important issue that must be resolved in such a future case. rival newspapers in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Restricting Fair Use to Save the News: A Proposed Change in Copyright Law to Bring More Profit to News Reporting.183 it would seem this is indeed an area that requires the flexibility in equity that gives judges discretion when deciding whether to enjoin the likes of AHN for its alleged news piracy. and the companies they work for. 13 J. TECH. L. See Ryan T. 3 (2008) (proposing “a change to current copyright law to bring more profit to news reporting” that “centers around allowing journalists. Holte. & POL’Y 1.2009 ALL THE NEWS THAT’S FIT TO OWN: HOT NEWS ON THE INTERNET & THE COMMODIFICATION OF NEWS IN DIGITAL CULTURE 29 Service). 183 . to own 98% of the investigated and researched facts they uncover for twenty-four hours after the story is first published”).

1 Contrary to  what Posner's title might suggest. Have You?    HOT NEWS MISAPPROPRIATION AND BARCLAYS Merrill Lynch.  usually large institutional investors. 2010). THEFLYONTHEWALL. which  no longer involve verbatim reproductions or close paraphrases of analyst research.Y. but it did paint a picture of a legal doctrine on the ropes—disdained by noted  jurists. The firms distribute these reports for a fee to their clients. "free‐riding activity that is directly competitive with the Firms'  production of time‐sensitive information. and to postpone  publication for at least two hours for research issued after the opening bell.Supp. 18.S.     In Barclays Capital Inc. Posner. Misappropriation: A Dirge.COM   In 2003.  215 (1918).   Background    Like other Wall Street firms. 621 (2003).T. a theory of unfair competition that dates  back to the Supreme Court's 1918 case.  1    . often spur investors into making trades. Barclays Capital Inc. 2010 WL 1005160  (S. according to  the firms. and Morgan Stanley produce  analyst research reports on stocks. and limited in practical significance.    The injunction is based on Judge Cote's finding. REV. Mar. prolific legal scholar and 7th Circuit Judge Richard Posner published a law  review article entitled "Misappropriation: A ("Fly") to delay its reporting of the stock recommendations of research  analysts from three prominent Wall Street firms. Merrill Lynch. which involved unauthorized re‐publication of wire service reports. unwise as a matter of policy. Morgan Stanley and Barclays also succeeded on  copyright infringement claims relating to Fly's unauthorized copying and distribution of  excerpts from their research reports for a few weeks in 2005. Judge Denise Cote of the United States District Court for the Southern  District of New York issued a permanent injunction requiring the Internet‐based financial news  site FlyOnTheWall.N.2d ‐‐‐‐.. and  Morgan Stanley.S. International News Service v. 248 U. usually through the firm that issued the                                                               1  Richard A. thereby substantially threatening their incentive to  continue in the business." Barclays. but the court awarded relatively  minor damages on those claims and this doesn't impact Fly's current business practices.D. at *32. L. 40 HOU. v. the article didn't outright announce the death of the hot  news doctrine. ‐‐‐ F. Associated Press. TheFlyOnTheWall. the case raises some disturbing prospects for news aggregation and sharing of information  on the Internet more generally. a  decision issued on March 18.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. that Fly engaged in  hot news misappropriation. Barclays. 2010 shows the doctrine to be very much alive and relevant. before publishing the  facts associated with analyst research released before the market opens.m. The injunction requires Fly to wait until 10 a. E. after a bench trial. For better or worse. In  fact." which discussed—among other things—the  continued viability of "hot news" misappropriation. The firms often release these reports before the NYSE  opens for the day. and the reports contain recommendations (buy/sell/hold) that.

 At that time. even if someone should send them to  presently "there is a crowded marketplace with small internet companies and major news  organizations reporting the Firms' Recommendations before and after the market opens. at *13. Fly apparently changed its information‐gathering  process.     The firms take various precautions to ensure that the reports go only to paying clients. largely in response to the firms' lawsuit. he "no  longer feels free to look at the research reports.  and Fly's competitors such as TTN. .com. . Barclays. Hence the  copyright claims for Fly's conduct in 2005. Finally. . it looks like Fly's operations have changed  significantly over the last few years. and licensed distributors  like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters contractually agree to maintain a "firewall" so that their  media arms can't obtain information from their research arms. Thomson Reuters. they forbid employees from sharing the reports. Have You?    report. and Briefing. Before 2005. at *12. The model has caught on." id. Access to these calls  and webcasts is restricted to those with the required passcode or login. As a result. however. their licensing agreements  purport to forbid the clients from redistributing the research content.    According to Judge Cote's opinion. the release of a report often has a significant impact on the market price for  the stock in question. he checks first to see what Recommendations have been  reported on Bloomberg Market News.    Inevitably. and email  messages. the firms host private conference calls or webcasts in which their  analysts discuss their research reports and recommendations with clients. Fly  relied primarily on employees at the firms who emailed research reports to Fly after they were  released to clients (this was pretty clearly a violation of the employees' duties of loyalty and  confidentiality to the firms).    As a result of the lawsuit. Next.. he visits  chat rooms to which he has been invited to participate by the moderator. including the  firms' password‐protected websites. the research reports and the recommendations contained in them  leak out.  and he now gathers information about the firms' reports from other sources:  According to Etergino. licensed third‐party distributors like Bloomberg and  Thomson Reuters (presumably also using some sort of password protection). In addition. Etergino  2    . Fly's president and majority owner. StreetAcount.  For example. Thomson Reuters. though."  Barclays. and.    The firms' paying clients gain access to the reports through several means. According to testimony from Ron Etergino.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. or IMTrader  messaging services that may go to dozens or hundreds of individuals. sometimes accompanied by a verbatim reproduction or close paraphrase of a passage  from the report explaining the basis for the recommendation. Etergino  also receives "blast IMs" through the Bloomberg. and Fly pioneered the business model of publishing this information for its own clients  on a newsfeed over the Internet. according to the court. Fly staff would type the recommendation as a  headline. Then he checks Dow Jones.

 And it largely relies on information that is publicly  available through mainstream and Internet media reports. Feist Publ'ns.S. id. 499 U. dissenting) ("The means by which the International  News Service obtains news gathered by the Associated Press is also clearly unobjectionable. the  buy/sell recommendations.  Hot News and Copyright Law    As noted.  The INS case arose after British and French censors barred INS from sending war dispatches to  the United States because its owner.  Id."  Id.").S. which is controversial precisely because it provides IP‐like  protection to facts despite copyright law's bedrock policy that facts are in the public domain. Hearst. and because copyright law did not extend to the facts contained in the  reports.S.S. The result is a headline like this: "EQIX: Equinox initiated with a Buy at  FofA/Merrill. 345 (1991).    In International News Service v. 248 U. money managers. decrying the majority's  opinion as unprecedented. Target $110. and what appear to be  open chat rooms. Facts are not protected by copyright law." the firms appeared to concede that they couldn't  stop Fly's current reporting practices through resort to copyright law. It is  taken from papers bought in the open market or from bulletins publicly posted.  3    . See Posner. But. Have You?    exchanges IMs. 215 (1918).. at 240. Inc. the main dispute in the Barclays case was not about verbatim copying. either bodily or after rewriting it. copyright law). and other contacts on Wall Street. Rural  Telephone Service Co. unnecessary. like those in New York. the Court nonetheless enjoined INS from using AP's news reports in direct  competition with the news service. See INS. had offended the British and French by siding with  Germany at the outset of WWI.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.    The INS Court acknowledged that AP had no copyright claim because it had failed to  register and/or place copyright notices on its news reports (now no longer a requirement under  U. and unwise. In other words. 340. at 627. IM blasts. at 231‐32 (at issue  was INS's practice of "copying news from bulletin boards and from early editions of  complainant's newspapers and selling this. the Supreme  Court created the hot news misappropriation doctrine as a matter of federal common law. While the firms' recommendations aren't  exactly facts in the same way as "hard news. adopted it as part of state unfair competition law. finding that the INS's free riding "speaks for itself and a  court of equity ought not to hesitate long in characterizing it as unfair competition in business. Enter the hot news  misappropriation doctrine. Fly acquires information about the reports through a process that looks a  whole lot like good‐old fashioned journalism. Associated Press. at 259‐60 (Brandeis. v. but  about Fly publishing time‐sensitive facts from the firms' research reports—essentially. 248 U. INS employees got around this problem by  paraphrasing AP dispatches published in east coast newspapers and sending them by telegraph  to the West Coast for publication in Hearst newspapers. and  some state courts.. Justices Holmes and Brandeis wrote powerful dissents." Barclays. J.. emails. at *10. and more rarely telephone calls with individual traders at hedge  funds. Inc. to defendant's  customers").

     It’s an open question whether or not all of this is wise economic policy. the theory goes. 105 F. rather than other economic factors (like international economic  meltdown). This raises the specter of preemption: that is. Posner  characterizes this policy impulse as protecting against the danger of "killing the goose that laid  the golden eggs.3d 841 (2d Cir. Judge Cote's opinion in Barclays does a  very thorough job on this issue and determines that federal copyright law does not preempt  hot news misappropriation." Posner. but Judge Cote found as a matter of fact  that Fly's activities did create a substantial disincentive.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Wall Street firms like Barclays and Merrill Lynch won't go to the  expense of producing these socially valuable reports if companies like Fly can free ride off of  them and undermine the money‐making potential of the practice. at 628. but it's one the court  accepted. is that protecting hot‐news‐type information is  necessary to preserve the incentives that drive economic actors to make the substantial  investment required to produce a socially valuable product or service in the first place. has hurt demand for the firms' reports. "[t]he criterion appears to mean that states can protect fact gathering  without running afoul of the preemption provision in the federal copyright statute only when  4    . Have You?      The main policy justification advanced by the majority.3d at 845). Posner. (iii) a defendant's use of the information constitutes free riding on the  plaintiff's efforts. the hot news doctrine creates an obvious tension with copyright law because. the idea is that Wall Street research reports are a social good—they  help disseminate information important to the proper functioning of the securities markets that  otherwise would not be produced. and (v) the ability of other parties to free‐ride on the efforts of  the plaintiff or others would so reduce the incentive to produce the product or service  that its existence or quality would be substantially threatened. This may be a disputable proposition. But from a legal  perspective. 105 F.. Inc.    In the Barclays case. at *20 (quoting NBA.  Barclays. as  noted above. And. it creates a pseudo‐property right in facts that copyright law says are in the public  domain. the narrow version of hot news misappropriation that survives copyright  preemption has the following elements:    (i) a plaintiff generates or gathers information at a cost. which remains the motivating  principle behind the hot news doctrine today. or at least a narrow version of it. Motorola. Posner says that the "meat" of the test is in  element (v).  at 632. a situation where federal law displaces  inconsistent state law under the Supremacy Clause. (iv) the defendant is in direct competition with a product or service  offered by the plaintiffs.    Under NBA. Again. it's disputable  whether Fly's conduct. Therefore. (ii) the information is time‐ sensitive. This result was a foregone  conclusion for Judge Cote because the Second Circuit Court of Appeals had already said as  much in National Basketball Association v. with (i) through (iv) describing a situation where (v) is likely to be satisfied. 1997). which is  controlling precedent in the Southern District of New York.

 See." 248 U. after voluntary communication to others. 435 U. v.F." Id. Florida Star v. 534 (1989) (First Amendment barred imposition of civil damages on newspaper  for publishing rape victim’s name). at least not directly. it's not an  impossible task. 533‐35  (2001) (First Amendment barred imposition of civil damages under wiretapping law for  publishing contents of conversation relevant to matter of public concern). “if a newspaper lawfully obtains truthful  information about a matter of public significance then state officials may not constitutionally  5    . (Although Fly did raise the First  Amendment as an affirmative defense in its answer. and ideas—become.     In other words. 514. if for no  other reasons than to avoid the potential conflict with copyright law and to promote the  public's access to information. It's also an important question  because First Amendment doctrine has developed considerably since 1918. Justice Brandeis's dissent gives us a First Amendment tingle in his famous  statement.. B. the firms convinced Judge Cote at trial that each  element was satisfied. The test is "alarmingly  fuzzy once the extreme position of creating a legal right against all free riding is rejected.. at 638. Inc. and free speech  concerns of which the Justices then had only a vague inkling now have become an accepted  part of the constitutional landscape. "[t]he general rule of law is. but even he didn't  seem to appreciate the constitutional implications of the case. demonstrating that. as it  must be. Landmark Comms. 524. Have You?    unauthorized copying of the facts is likely to deter the plaintiff or others similarly situated from  gathering and disseminating the facts that the defendant has copied.S.  truths ascertained.  free as the air to common use.) As we'll see below. 841‐42  (1978) (First Amendment barred criminal prosecution for disclosing information from a  confidential judicial discipline proceeding)." Id. J.g. while it may take a unique set of facts. and one would expect courts to be cautious in finding it met.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed..S. Vopper. Bartnicki v. 527‐28. that the noblest of human productions—knowledge. 532 U.. dissenting). Fly  undoubtedly raised factual arguments that bear on the question. 443 U. This could be because Fly didn't  argue the point in its final papers.S. at 250 (Brandeis. Smith v. 103‐06 (1979)  (First Amendment barred prosecution under state statute for publishing names of juvenile  offenders without permission of court). Daily Mail Publ’g Co.J.    The First Amendment issue is an important one because the Supreme Court didn't  address it in INS. In Barclays.. though.  491 U. e.S.    A long line of Supreme Court cases hold that the First Amendment protects truthful  speech on matters of public concern. the hot news doctrine presents an inherently subjective and necessarily  fact‐specific standard. Virginia. Therefore. 829.   What About the First Amendment?      Notably lacking from Judge Cote's very thorough opinion is any discussion of how hot  news misappropriation interacts with the First Amendment. 97.S. conceptions.

 so it can't resolve the  issue. members of a teachers union sued a radio announcer under state  and federal wiretapping laws after he played an unlawfully recorded telephone conversation on  the air. then the First Amendment protects its right to publish that  information.    In Barclays. See Mary T.S. There is nothing inherently unlawful about Fly reading about a stock  recommendation on a newsfeed provided by another news service or participating in a public  chat room where Wall Street "rumors" are discussed (accessing a passcode‐protected  conference call would be another matter). at 527‐28. but "a stranger's illegal  conduct" is not sufficient to remove First Amendment protection under Bartnicki.”  Smith. at 535. The court said that "the conduct of third parties is  simply of no moment in finding Fly liable for hot‐news misappropriation." Barclays.    To be sure. at *22. 2007) (First Amendment barred criminal prosecution for  posting illegally recorded video online when recording made by third party. Jean v. Judge Cote considered it unimportant that Fly obtained the information it  published from other news services that were publishing the firms' recommendations on the  Internet in advance of Fly's own publication. at *22. Vopper.     Under Bartnicki and the cases mentioned above.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. whether the state may constitutionally penalize publication of truthful  information relating to a matter of public concern that was not obtained in violation of any  other applicable laws.”  532 U. the person who originally leaks a firm research report to a news service or  chat room participant may violate a legal duty owed to one of the firms. The Supreme Court held that the First  Amendment prohibited the recovery of damages against the radio show host for publishing the  tape. if Fly obtained the information in  question through lawful means. 443 U. The court says that Fly has engaged in "illegal  conduct" by publishing the information it did.S. The question  is closer for Fly's pre‐lawsuit‐era publication of reports received directly from firm employees  6    . even if knowing  receipt of the recording constituted a crime under Massachusetts law).3d 24 (1st Cir. 532 U. 492 F. Barclays. but this label begs the  question—that is. accord Bartnicki. Massachusetts  State Police. This may be a faithful application of the INS case itself— recall that INS involved taking facts from publicly available bulletin boards and published  newspaper accounts—but INS never considered the First Amendment. absent a need to further a state interest of the highest  order." and "it is not a  defense to misappropriation that a Recommendation is already in the public domain by the  time Fly reports it. explaining that “a stranger’s illegal conduct does not suffice to remove the First  Amendment shield from speech about a matter of public concern.S.    In Bartnicki v. The  constitutional principle in Bartnicki and other Supreme Court cases is not limited to traditional  forms of media like newspapers and radio broadcasters. at 103. The radio show host had received the recording from a third party who himself had  received the tape in the mail from an anonymous source. Have You?    punish publication of the information.

 On the other hand. such conduct  will not run afoul of the injunction. But.    The court might well respond to all this by arguing that the firms' reports are not facts  related to a matter of public concern like ordinary news. There may well be a  constitutionally significant distinction between reporting the subjective recommendations  generated by these Wall Street firms and objective. Target $110. Furthermore. this description of speech activity (the court doesn't frame it in terms of speech)  that won't be enjoined displays an obvious preference for original/sweat of the  brow/"analytical" content‐creation over the free transmission of facts and information. and refers on occasion after the market opens in New York to one of the  Firms' Recommendations in the context of independent analytical reporting on a  significant market movement that has already occurred that same day. to try  to distinguish between reporting the "subjective" recommendations versus reporting the  "objective" fact that they were made. Regrettably. Have You?    who violated a duty of loyalty and confidentiality."  Barclays. and the announcement of a recommendation is itself a newsworthy event  because it may cause a change in a stock's price. is narrow:    [T]o the extent Fly alters its business and begins to engage in actual analysis of market  movements. It is difficult. though this probably violates the client's  license agreement. but even in the trade secrets  sphere this question has not been resolved with any clarity. especially when the publication in question looks like  this: "EQIX: Equinox initiated with a Buy at FofA/Merrill. at *32. at *29. but rather "subjective judgments  based on complex and imperfect evidence. and potentially hazardous. external facts that are discovered "out  there" in the world.    7    . real‐world  consequences. these subjective judgments have objective. the court did not differentiate between Fly's different  information‐gathering tactics. like the scope of hot news misappropriation. which is  a lot of what happens on the Internet. It might be independently "unlawful" in the  constitutional sense to knowingly induce a breach of these duties."     The court may have ameliorated some of the First Amendment concerns by clarifying  that the scope of its injunction. and it enjoined publication of information obtained through at  least some practices that clearly aren't "unlawful" in any meaningful sense.  Id.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. it would not be  "unlawful" for Fly to communicate by email or telephone with firm clients who are willing to  convey the substance of the recommendations.

  FOIA covers records from all federal regulatory agencies. including federally‐funded state agencies. 2. or  public interest group). and offices of the Executive Branch of the federal  government. whether the person is a U.  FOIA gives the right to request access to government records to any person for any  reason.   All non‐exempt electronic and physical records held by federal agencies must be  disclosed under FOIA. the Executive  Office of the President. partnership. No private persons or organizations are covered by FOIA. Some federally funded organizations may not be  covered by FOIA if the government does not control or regulate their operation. Congress. enacted in 1966. Federal agencies covered by FOIA are permitted to withhold  . government‐controlled corporations.  Suffer penalties for refusing to release covered information. FOIA does not cover the  sitting President. 4. cabinet and military  departments. but all  states and some local governments have passed freedom of information laws. § 552(f). provides access to the public  records of all departments.C. but they are just as capable of using records requests to reveal information  that is important to the public. State and local  governments are not covered by FOIA. and  Publish agency regulations and policy statements. according to one study.S. Congress (or members of Congress). or the  federal courts and federal judiciary. commissions. Requests  for information from a state or local governments must be made under that  jurisdiction's freedom of information legislation. or the federal judiciary. Individuals have the same access rights as professional  journalists. including the Executive Office of the President. The statute requires federal  agencies to:  1. citizen or a foreign national.   FOIA does NOT apply to the President. agencies. Requests can be made  in the name of an individual or an organization (including a corporation. Individuals probably won’t qualify for  some of the perks afforded to media professionals. though journalists who work for established media organizations sometimes  receive better treatment from records‐keepers. and other organizations of the Executive Branch of the federal  government. in the Federal Register.  Appoint a FOI officer charged with responding to information requests. 5 U. In fact. any of those organizations’ records that are filed with federal agencies may be  covered.FEDERAL OPEN RECORDS LAW: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA)  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT  OVERVIEW  The Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"). such as fee waivers and expedited  processing. including their rules for  handling FOIA information requests. offices. more FOIA requests  come from ordinary citizens than from professional media organizations.S. Provide access to their records and information. barring certain exceptions. 3.  However.

 One of the  most common exemptions relied on the exemption for national security.”  as these records are sometimes called.  . searched. commissions.  Agencies are required to make the following records available for public inspection and  copying without a formal FOIA request via the Federal Register:  • • • • • final opinions made in the adjudication of cases. or controlled by a federal regulatory agency. you sometimes can agree to accept information in an abbreviated  form rather than the actual documents.  easier to analyze. many records take no more  effort to access than personal e‐mail. cabinet  and military departments. and other organizations of the Executive Branch of  the federal government must be disclosed unless the information contained in the  records is covered by a specific FOIA exemption. However. The easiest  method is to access an agency's online “reading room” which provides free access to  certain government documents.  unpublished policy statements and agency interpretations.  There are a number of ways that you can receive government records. printouts and other kinds of  paper records can be requested. government‐controlled corporations. as well as maps. Nor can you use FOIA to compel agencies to answer your general questions  under FOIA.  you cannot compel an agency to create or search for information that is not already in  its records. and plugged into tables and charts.  staff manuals that affect the public.     AGENCY RECORDS SUBJECT TO FOIA  Any records created. or redact portions of documents. possessed. and  a general index of released records determined to have been or likely to be the  subject of additional requests.documents. and otherwise better suited to citizen use.  copies of records released in response to previous FOIA requests have been or  will likely be the subject of additional requests.  the Executive Office of the President. generally are simpler and quicker to obtain. Information from e‐records can be organized into  databases. With the invention of  online reading rooms and FOIA sections of agency websites.   The increasing availability of electronic versions of government records is one of the  most important developments in public access to government information. offices.  Physical records of any description can be requested under FOIA. diagrams. “E‐records. FOIA only extends to existing records. if the records (or information in the  records) are covered by one of the nine exemptions established by FOIA. index cards. charts. making it possible to perform  in‐depth analysis in much less time—which opens up new possibilities for public use of  government information. Traditional typed  documents.

 the Poynter  Institute has an online bibliography of computer‐assisted reporting (CAR) primers and  other sources of information. which contains agencies’ regulations and policy statements. This can  make the information‐gathering process significantly simpler and more efficient. you may be able to specify whether you  receive e‐records by e‐mail attachment.  identify common records requests and make those records available online. which  is a great help to those who don’t have the time and resources to mount in‐depth  investigations. policy statements.  have a FOIA section of their websites. including the  Congressional Record.  Besides quicker access and (possibly) cheaper reproduction costs. They are easier to sort  through quickly. E‐ FOIA requires that government agencies:  • • • prepare electronic forms of records and record indexes. the official record of Congress’ proceedings and debates. Depending on the agency. which must be  available online. Some states. on which they must post agency  regulations. For more information on ways to use electronic records. possibly making it easier to find patterns and discrepancies. or other medium. administrative opinions. The Electronic Information Act requires government to  maintain an online directory of Federal electronic information.  offer access to those records. Whether you’re talking directly to a records‐keeper or filing an  official FOIA request. CD. and other  records. Because of this. and  create reference guides for accessing agency information.  • • •   .  Congress extended the Freedom of Information Act to electronic records by enacting  the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Enhancement Act of 1993  ("Electronic Information Act") and the Electronic Freedom of Information Act  Amendments of 1996 ("E‐FOIA"). as well  as the Federal Register. any record you seek could be available  in electronic format. for instance. E‐records can be  compiled into databases for easy searching and comparison. An agency must  make requested records available in electronic format at the request of a person if the  record is readily reproducible by the agency in electronic format (§ 552(a)(3)(B)). electronic records  have several advantages over their paper‐based counterparts.  allow the requester to receive records in the format of their choice. you should consider asking for electronic copies of the records you  are requesting.  create online reading rooms that include information available in traditional  reading rooms. staff manuals.  Electronic records are becoming more and more prevalent as the government continues  to expand its use of technology.

Oil and Gas Wells‐‐geological and geophysical data about oil and gas wells are  exempted from disclosure (§ 552(b)(9)). not mandatory. Federally Regulated Banks‐‐information that is contained in or related to reports  prepared by or for a bank supervisory agency such as the Federal Deposit  Insurance Corporation. or endanger the life or  physical safety of any individual (§ 552(b)(7)). This means that FOIA  . Personal Privacy‐‐private data held by agencies about individuals is exempt if  disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. FOIA contains nine exemptions that might impact your request:    1. Trade Secrets or Confidential Commercial Information‐‐this exemption applies to  trade secrets (commercially valuable plans. Internal Agency Memoranda and Policy Discussions‐‐in order to protect the  deliberative policymaking processes of government. interfere with enforcement  proceedings or investigations. breach a  person's privacy interest in information maintained in law enforcement files. Information Exempt Under Other Laws‐‐an agency is prohibited from disclosing  information that protected from disclosing under other federal laws. the Federal Reserve. an employee's  computer user id) (§ 552(b)(2)). formulas.  reveal law enforcement techniques and procedures. internal agency memoranda  and letters between agencies discussing potential policy options are exempted  from disclosure (§ 552(b)(5)). the information  contained in the records may relate to certain subject areas that are exempt from  disclosure under FOIA.g..While the records you've requested might be covered by FOIA. but a  person is not prevented from obtaining private information about themselves (§  552(b)(6)). or costs (§ 552(b)(4)).  5.  Other than exemption number 3 ‐‐ which relates to information exempt under other  federal law ‐‐ these exemptions are permissive..  6.  7. federal tax laws prohibit the disclosure of personal income tax returns  (§ 552(b)(3)).  4. or devices) and  commercial information obtained from a person (other than an agency) that  would be likely to harm the competitive position of the person if disclosed (such  as a company's marketing plans. are exempt (§ 552(b)(8)). processes.  8. For  example.  9. Internal Agency Personnel Rules‐‐ information relating to internal agency  practices is exempt if it is a trivial administrative matter of no genuine public  interest (e.  2. among other things. Law Enforcement Investigations‐‐this exemption allows the withholding of  information that would. deprive a person of a right to a fair trial. Classified Documents‐‐information classified in the interests of national security  or foreign policy can be withheld (§ 552(b)(1)(A)). profits.  3. a rule governing lunch hours for agency employees) or if disclosure  would risk circumvention of law or agency regulations (e.g.

 agencies are required to disclose all non‐exempt  information. policy statements. but many include a number of useful records. you should  always start by checking to see if the records you are seeking are already available in the  reading room. In other words.  If you can't get what you want through a reading room. If that  doesn’t work. because  accessing them requires only a few clicks on an agency’s website. In addition. or to redact portions  of documents. if an exemption only applies to a portion of a  record. Therefore.    . saving both you and the agency time and (possibly) money.   An agency must state which exemption it is relying on when it withholds documents or  redacts information. you should carefully consider  how (and in what form) you want the responding agency to provide the documents to  you. Reading rooms  are the easiest method of obtaining certain types of government information. Agencies are  required to make the following records available for public inspection and copying  without a formal FOIA request:  • • • • final opinions made in the adjudication of cases  unpublished policy statements and agency interpretations  staff manuals that affect the public  copies of records released in response to previous FOIA requests that are of  sufficient interest to the public that they will likely be the subject of additional  requests  a general index of released records determined to have been or likely be the  subject of additional requests  • Explain what records you’re seeking and that you’re prepared to file an official request if  necessary. but it does not compel the agency to do so. and records.  If the information is not available online. you can try speaking to the agency’s FOIA officer. you can try simply asking for it.allows an agency to refuse to disclose otherwise covered records. A record‐keeper familiar with FOIA might honor a request made in‐person or  via telephone.    ACCESSING FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECORDS  FOIA requires that all federal agencies maintain online reading rooms that provide  electronic versions of their regulations. The type and amount of information available in the reading rooms vary  greatly by agency. even if it is contained in a record that contains other information that is  exempt from disclosure. the agency must release the remainder of the document after the exempt  material has been redacted.

 If you can't find the information through an online search.  A FOIA request should be addressed to the agency's FOIA officer or the head of the  agency. e‐mailed.    WRITTEN FOIA REQUESTS  Written requests are the only way to legally assert your FOIA rights. then the agency  must only provide you with an electronic copy if it is reasonably able to do so. If you would prefer a  certain type of electronic format. if you  request an electronic copy of records that only exist in paper form. The Manual also contains the addresses and telephone  numbers for each agency. The Library  of Congress provides links to congressional committees. publications. However. See 5 U. congressional bodies. while electronic copies of records may either be e‐mailed to you or sent to you on a  CD‐ROM or other disk drive. Because of the various ways you can receive the records. you then will need to  file a formal FOIA request. the agency need only provide the records in that  specific format if it is reasonably able to do so. including your address if you want the  records mailed to you or your e‐mail address if you are requesting that electronic  records be e‐mailed to you. faxed.  A statement that you are seeking records under the Freedom of Information Act. Online Directories to Government Information provide  information on which agencies have responsibility for various subject areas. which should include this information.S. or hand‐delivered to the relevant agency’s offices. These should be  mailed. The National Archives and Records  Administration contains extensive records from across the federal government. meaning  that the record is "readily reproducible" in the alternate format. and other  information. then the  agency must generally provide the records in your preferred form.C.If you cannot access the records through these informal means. If the records already exist in the form that you request them in. physical copies of records may usually be mailed or faxed to  you.  In your request you can ask to receive either an electronic copy or a physical copy of the  records. it  is very important that you specify your preferred method when you initially file your  request. depending  on which methods the agency allows. the Library of Congress has  extensive records on many government agencies. A quick online search of the agency's name and  "FOIA" should provide you with specific information about how the particular agency  accepts FOIA requests. While Congress is not subject to FOIA. 552(a)(3)(B).  • .  Depending on the agency.  including the historical records of federal agencies. check  the Federal Register.  The United States Government Manual contains a list of federal agencies and a brief  description of their functions. and courts. It must include:  • Your name and contact information.

 Being specific helps you avoid paying fees for records that  you actually do not need and helps to expedite your request. See the section on Requesting Electronic  Records in this guide for more information. That said.   In addition to the required elements listed above. CD‐ROM. whether it be mail.  A request for a fee waiver or expedited review for your request.  • • • Your FOIA request should be addressed to the relevant agency's FOIA officer or the head  of the agency. Department of Justice has a fairly comprehensive list of FOIA  contacts at federal agencies. but the above  minimum requirements are sufficient to make a valid FOIA request.  You do not need to tell the government organization why you want the  information. It is generally advisable to make the  request as specific as possible. You should indicate  that you wish to be contacted if the charges will exceed this amount. you should  set out these details.• A description of the record(s) you are seeking. e‐mail attachment. Note that the agency must only respond within  20 days. e‐mail." If you are unsure of which agency to send your request to. The U.  Technically.S.  Your preferred medium for receiving the record(s). this means that you must give  enough information that a record‐keeper would be able to find the records  without an undue amount of searching. if applicable. every person has a right to request records regardless of his or her  profession. so if you know the title or the date of a particular  document. you might want to include some of  the following additional information in your request:  • • Your preferred method of contact for any questions about the record(s) you are  seeking. such as paper. (note that you are not always guaranteed to  receive the records in your preferred format. or can precisely describe the class of documents you seek. You will likely receive a faster  response if you make your request in accordance with the agency's own FOIA  regulations (these can be viewed in the Code of Federal Regulations). the agency may exceed the 20‐ day time limit if it needs to request more information from you in order to process your  request. The time  period does not begin until the proper agency or office actually receives your request.  Furthermore. it does not have to deliver the records within the 20‐day time period.  The maximum fee you are willing to pay for your record(s). etc. or telephone.  the US Government Manual may be of assistance. just type in "agency's  name" and "FOIA contact. you may want to inform the record‐keeper that you plan  to use the information to publish on a matter of public interest.  . The only requirement is that you  “reasonably describe” the records. Basically. but the agency will attempt to  honor such requests if possible). under the new 2007 FOIA amendments. you can usually  find the information easily by conducting a quick web search. government organizations must respond to a FOIA request with a denial or  grant of access within 20 business days. If the agency you want isn't listed there.  microfiche.

 offers expedited review “for requests concerning issues of government  integrity that have already become the object of widespread national media interest” or  “if delay might cause the loss of substantial due process rights. the agency must provide you with a tracking  number if your request will take longer than 10 days to process. it doesn’t hurt to ask even if you don’t meet the requirements. Each agency is required to have at  least one "FOIA Requester Service Center" that can give information about the status of  pending FOIA requests. If your request cannot be fulfilled within these time periods. The agency must tell you the date that it received your request  . you will be entitled to expedited treatment if health  and safety are at issue or if there is an urgent public interest in the government activity  at issue.  If you think there is a compelling reason why you need the information sooner than the  normal period under FOIA. for  instance. Generally speaking. and they are usually permitted to treat requests on a  "first come.  Realistically.    Expedited processing  FOIA provides for requests to receive “expedited review” if the request meets certain  requirements. Aside from these specific circumstances listed above.”     Checking the Status of Your Request  Under the 2007 FOIA amendments. the search involves  records from multiple offices. first served" basis as long as they devote a reasonable amount of staff to  responding to the requests. These agencies generally have a processing system that  allows simpler requests to be handled quickly so that these requests do not have to  "wait in line" behind more complex requests.  You should also check the individual agency's requirements to see if they allow other  types of requests to receive expedited treatment.  agencies may use their discretion in deciding whether or not to grant expedited review.  So. or the search involves records from multiple  organizations. you can use  the tracking number to find out more information. you should clearly explain your reasons in your initial FOIA  request. the agency  may ask you to reasonably modify your request or allow for an alternative time frame. many agencies do not comply with these time limits. The Department of Justice. Then.Agencies may extend this time limit by up to 10 additional working days (they must  inform you they are doing so) if one of the following "exceptional circumstances" exists:  the record‐keeper must search an extraordinary amount of records. Some agencies may  have a large backlog of requests. Agencies must decide whether or not to grant expedited processing within 10  calendar days of the request. if you haven't  heard back from an agency or are unsure about the status of your request.

 who do not have to pay search fees and only pay duplication costs  after the first 100 pages  All other requestors. or other media. who must pay all fees for search. or telephone. creates a distinct work. However. based on the salary and  benefits of the employee doing the search. a person can be considered part of the news media if he or she gathers  information that is of public interest. If you are not associated with professional media. This typically includes fees for the time the record‐keeper spends searching for  the correct documents as well as the cost of duplicating those documents.  552(a)(4)(A). They may be as high as  . Fees for computer time. duplication. This will  reduce the amount of time that the record‐keeper must spend searching for the  documents. the Reform Act cautions that this is not an all‐inclusive  category.   The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's FOIA Guide breaks down some of  the actual fees you can expect to pay:  • Search fees generally range from $11 to $28 per hour.    FEES  Federal agencies are allowed to charge “reasonable” costs for responding to your FOIA  request. which will potentially save you money.S. who pay search fees after the first two hours and  duplication costs after the first 100 pages  • Note that this means that small requests should always be free as long as the  information is not intended for commercial purposes. e‐mail. and  review  Requesters from the professional media.  FOIA breaks down requesters into three categories for determining fees:  • • Commercial use requesters. The centers can  generally be contacted by mail. Under the new  amendment. you can  always request that you should be considered under the second category because of  your intent to publish. See 5 U. Also. educational institutions. seems to broaden the scope of the "professional media" category.  websites. which are  described in each agency’s FOI regulations. so it remains to be seen if bloggers and other citizen journalists will be able to  benefit from fee waivers generally only reserved for "professional" media.and must give an estimated date that it will complete your request. which goes into effect in December  2008. The New FOIA Reform Act. vary greatly. and distributes that work  to an audience.C. and scientific  institutions.  Non‐traditional journalists generally will fall into the last category ‐‐ and thus may be on  the hook for search fees ‐‐ even if they intend to publish the information in blogs. you should always be as  specific as possible when describing the documents in your initial FOIA request.

  Agencies consider fee waiver requests on a case‐by‐case basis.  Organizations can’t require you to pay in advance if the expected fee is less than  $250 and you don’t have a prior history of failing to make payments with the  organization.  agencies cannot charge you for time they spend deciding whether documents  should be exempt or time they spend blacking out restricted information from  the documents. even if you haven't  formally requested a fee waiver. since the futile search still took time.  • Under FOIA. You also must explain  any financial interest you have in the information.    LEGAL REMEDIES UNDER FOIA IF YOUR REQUEST IS DENIED  .  Here are some additional things to keep in mind when dealing with fee issues:  • • Agencies can charge search fees even if they don’t find any documents that  satisfy your request. etc. organizations are required to publish fee schedules in the Federal Register. Photocopying costs are normally between 3 and 25 cents per  page. though  some are available on organizations’ websites.  An organization’s FOI officer should be able to provide you with the schedule. your FOIA requests could be  eligible for total or partial waiver of fees if you can show that the disclosure of the  information is in the public interest—even if you aren’t a professional journalist.    Fee waivers and fee reductions  Under the Freedom of Information Reform Act of 1986. The fee schedule includes information  about how much the particular agency charges for searching.  You can always try asking the organization to waive or reduce fees. You may also want to ask in advance for an estimate of what the  expected fees may be. though a financial stake in publishing  the information ‐‐ such as if you are paid to blog ‐‐ should not pose a problem.• $270 per hour. make sure your FOIA request includes a limit on the fees you’re willing  to pay. copying. This  requires that you specifically request a waiver or reduction of fees and explain why you  think the public has an interest in understanding the information.  As long as you aren’t requesting the information for commercial purposes.  If you think your request could involve a significant amount of search time or  copying. You can appeal fee or  waiver decisions in the same way you appeal request denials.

 you should appeal the denial within the relevant agency before  taking any other action. be sure to  make clear that you willingness to compromise is not considered a "new" request by the  agency (a new request will start the FOIA clock running again).  Appeal letters can be used to challenge the agency's failure to respond in a timely  fashion. you can  attempt to resolve informally any disputes you have with the responding agency. Delays are frequently due to the overworked nature of most FOIA officers. and better.You have several options if your FOIA request is denied in whole or in part. If  informal resolution fails.  . If you haven't received any  response from the agency (an excessive delay in complying with a request constitutes a  denial under FOIA) you should send your appeal to the head of the agency. Your  offer to "revise" or "narrow" the scope of your request can go a long way toward getting  faster.  In your FOIA appeal letter you should:  • • Cite section 552(a)(6) of FOIA and clearly list your grounds for appeal. If the agency tells you  that the records don't exist. which are usually around thirty days.  While you engage in informal resolution be sure and keep records of all of your contacts  with the agency. It might also help if you  offer to resolve fee or fee waiver issues by paying a small amount. treatment of your request. If the agency sent you a denial  letter. ask them to describe their search methodology. you can seek mediation through the  newly authorized FOIA ombudsman or file a lawsuit in court to enforce your rights  under FOIA. it should set out the agency's appeal procedures. the adequacy of the search  used to locate responsive records. If your appeal is unsuccessful and the agency withheld the  information because it is classified.  Attach copies of the original request letter and the denial letter. First. a decision not to release records in whole or in part. If  these options have failed to resolve the dispute.    Informal Resolution  The simplest ‐‐ and often most effective ‐‐ remedy is to seek informal resolution of the  dispute.  you can appeal to the agency's FOIA Appeals Officer.    Appealing within the Relevant Agency  If the agency denies your request or does not respond within the required time period. and the agency's refusal to grant you a fee waiver. you can apply to have the information declassified. If you revise your request. Take special note of the time  limitation for appeals. Perhaps  they aren't looking for the right things or in the right places. Track all time and response deadlines carefully.

  . and  State that you expect a final ruling on your appeal within 20 working days. the court could speed up your case through  “expeditious consideration. keep in mind that if you file a lawsuit. even if you receive no response or an incomplete  response from the agency.  If the agency denied your request because the information is classified (i.  or because the agency should waive the exemption in the current case). If your lawsuit is  "substantially successful". in the  state where the records are located.”  Lastly. the agency  relied on the national security exemption).e. If the agency denies your  appeal or does not respond within 20 days. or in the District of Columbia. you have the right to appear on your own behalf in court by filing a complaint  pro se.    Filing a Lawsuit  If your request is denied. as  required by FOIA. you can make a separate request for  mandatory declassification review of the information.  However.  Sample appeal letters can be found on the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the  Press' website and at the National Security Archive.• • Take some time to explain the reasons why the denial should be reconsidered  (for example.  Make sure you are familiar with the exemptions to FOIA so you can argue that the  records you are seeking are not or should not be exempted. because the exemption does not properly apply to the document. you must do so within six years from the  date of your initial FOIA request.   Obtaining records through legal action can be a costly and drawn‐out process. If you assert that there is a public  interest in your timely access to the records. You can learn more about  declassification review procedure by going to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of  the Press' FOIA Guide. you  may sue the agency in the United State District Court in your state of residence. and your internal appeal does not reverse this decision. the agency will be ordered to pay your attorney's fees. Some  lawsuits over FOIA denials can last more than a year. you may file a lawsuit in federal court. It is generally  recommended that you retain an attorney to bring such a suit.


Media Law in the Digital Age Exercising Your Right to Know: Getting Access to Government Information Kennesaw State University September 25, 2010

Open Records
I. A. General Georgia has a long and proud tradition of encouraging openness in governmental meetings and records. Principles of openness in government are found in the Constitution of Georgia, our state statutes, and the decisions of the appellate courts of the State of Georgia. The two statutes which apply to most meetings and records are known as the “Sunshine Acts.” These consist of the open and public meetings laws (Official Code of Georgia [O.C.G.A.] §§ 50-14-1 through 50-14-6) and the open and public records laws (O.C.G.A. §§ 50-18-70 through 50-18-76). General provisions of openness A. B. III. A. United States Constitution 6th Amendment Georgia Constitution Article 1 § 1 Paragraph 11 Open records act Definition of open records act 1. The Act provides that public records shall be open for a personal inspection by “any citizen of this state.” See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70(b). Records are also to be made available to non-residents of Georgia as well. See 93 Op. Atty. Gen. 27 (1993).   C. What is a public record?  1. The statute lists the following as public records. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70(a). a. b. c. d. e. f.   Documents; Papers; Letters; Maps; Books; Tapes;




g. h. i. 2.

Photographs; Computer based or generated information (see below); or, Similar material prepared and maintained or received in the course of the operation of a public office or agency.

Public records subject to disclosure also include these items when they are received or maintained by a private person, corporation, or other private entity on behalf of a public office or agency. In other words, placing public records in private hands does not protect them from disclosure. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70(a).



Whose records are public records? 1. 2. The open records act incorporates the definition of agency set forth in the open meetings act (see below). The open records act also states that private entities that act as “vehicles” of an “agency” are subject to the open records act. An entity acts as a “vehicle” when it carries out the functions or responsibilities of an agency or other governing body covered by law. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70(a).


What records can be legally withheld? (most commonly referenced) 1. 2. Medical records. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(2). Confidential personnel evaluations from outside sources (and some other personnel documents). See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(5). a. Records relating to the discipline of public employees are to be released 10 days after the materials are presented to the agency for action, or 10 days after the investigation terminates. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(5).


In 1992, the state legislature enacted an optional special procedure for access to information regarding those who were applying for, or were being considered for, positions such as a department head or county manager or county administrator. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(7). Upon a request to the agency: a. At least 14 calendar days prior to the meeting at which the final action or vote is to be taken for the position, the agency shall release all documents which came into its possession with respect to as many as three persons considered finalists for the job. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(7).




An applicant at this time can withdraw his/her name from consideration and thereby avoid disclosure, in which case the identity and records of the next most qualified candidate are to be disclosed. O.C.G.A. See § 50-18-72 (a)(7).


Public disclosure is not required for trade secrets which are submitted to public agencies under requirement of law. Georgia law has defined a trade secret as a secret process not patented but known only to certain individuals using it in trade having commercial value, as opposed to the mere privacy which an ordinary commercial business is carried on. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (b)(1). Public disclosure is not required for real estate records pertaining to acquisition until after the transaction. Public disclosure is not required for engineers’ costs estimates and rejected or deferred bid proposals concerning road projects until such time as the final award is made. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(6)(A)(B). Public disclosure is not required for criminal investigation records when they concern a case still under active investigation. See O.C.G.A. § 5018-72 (a)(4). a. Regardless of the status of an investigation, the initial police, arrest, and initial incident report is an open record and must be disclosed. Because the Act also covers audio and video records, 911 calls and videos of traffic stops, etc., must be disclosed as well. Individual accident reports are available under the open records act upon the submission of a written statement of need by the requesting party. See O.C.G.A. §§ 50-18-72 (a)(4)(4.1)(16).





An individual’s social security number and insurance or medical information in personnel records may be redacted from such records. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(11.1). Public disclosure is not required for a public employee’s home address, home telephone number, social security number, and insurance or medical information. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(13)(13.1). Public disclosure is not required for records acquired by a public agency related to carpooling and ridesharing. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(14). Public disclosure is not required for records of security plans which would compromise security against sabotage or criminal or terrorist acts and the nondisclosure of which is necessary for the protection of public safety. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (a)(15).


9. 10.



E. 1.

How much can we charge for copying public records? The public agency has the right to assess a copying charge of up to $.25 cents per page, as well as reasonable search and retrieval fees. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 (c)(d). The first 15 minutes of search and retrieval time is free. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 (d). The charges for finding and segregating the public records that are requested must be based on the rate of pay of the lowest paid employee authorized to search for and organize those records. See O.C.G.A. § 5018-71 (d). A “fee may not be imposed under O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 when a citizen seeks only to inspect records that are routinely subject to public inspection, such as deeds... “ McFrugal Car Rental v. Garr, 262 Ga. 369, 418 S.E.2d 60 (1992). Before a public agency can collect copying costs, it must give an estimate of what those costs will be. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71.2.

2. 3.



5. F.

When do we release public records? 1. The individual in control of the records has a reasonable time, not to exceed three business days, to determine whether the requested records are subject to access and to permit inspection and copying. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 (f). Where responsive records exist, but are not available within three business days of the request, a written description of such records, together with a timetable for their inspection and copying shall be provided within that period. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 (f). If access to the requested records is denied in whole or in part, the specific legal authority exempting such records from disclosure must be specified by Code section, subsection, and paragraph in writing. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (h). a. No addition to or amendment of such designation shall be permitted thereafter, except that such designation may be amended or supplemented one time within five days of discovery of an error or within five days of the institution of an action to enforce the release of records. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72 (h).







Are computer records public records? 1. 2.

In 1992, the state legislature made clear that computer-based or computergenerated information is a public record. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 (a). No new fees other than those directly attributable to providing access shall be assessed where records are made available by electronic means. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71.2. Records maintained by computer shall be made available where practicable by electronic means, including internet access, subject to reasonable security restrictions preventing access to non-requested or nonavailable records. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 (g).




Penalties 1. A person who knowingly and willfully violates the open records act by failing to provide proper access, or failing to provide access within the proper time limits, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-74. The superior courts have jurisdiction in law and equity to hear actions pertaining to violations of the Open Records Act. See O.C.G.A. § 50-1873 (a). The attorney general has jurisdiction to enforce open records violations. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73 (a). Any agency or person who provides access to information in good faith reliance on the requirements of the Open Records Act shall not be liable in any action on account of having provided access to such information. See O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73 (c). As recently retired Chief Justice Norman Fletcher wrote, “if there is the slightest doubt, or any questions whatsoever... DO NOT CLOSE.” Steele v. Honea, 261 Ga. 644 (1991).


3. 4.

Prepared by: Georgia First Amendment Foundation 150 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue Suite 230 Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 525-3646 08/16/10







Additionally. state statutes. Florida’s Public Records Laws • The Florida Constitution states that “[e]very person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body. Att’y. and the decisions of the the country.Article 1 of Section 24 of the Florida Constitution indicates that 6) and the open and public records laws (O. § 50-1870(a). This section specifically includes the legislative.G.G. maps. and appellate courts of the State of Georgia. and judicial branches of government and each agency or department created thereunder. O. • The statute defines public records as documents. and commission. Stat.Accessing Public Records – a Comparison between Florida and Georgia Public Records and Open Meetings Laws Georgia Access Laws in General: Florida’s Access Laws in General: Principles of openness in government are found in the Florida has some of the oldest open records and meetings laws in Constitution of Georgia.A. Records are also to be made available to non-residents of Georgia as well. except with respect to records exempted pursuant to this section or specifically made confidential by this Constitution. • Public records are those held by agencies or private entities acting on behalf of agencies.” See O. Even though the terms of the public records and meetings laws tend to be broad and the exemptions are drafted narrowly.C. and each constitutional officer. officer.” These consist of the open and public meetings laws was enacted in 1967. tapes. photographs or computer   . there is also a privacy right set forth in the state constitution that courts have used to curb the right to access on occasion. §§ 50-18-70 there is a right of access to records and meetings involving public through 50-18-76). § 50-18-70(b).011. papers.G. (Official Code of Georgia [O.C. Florida’s open records law was enacted in 1909.C.A.] §§ 50-14-1 through 50-14. or employee of the state. letters. §§119. and districts. board. municipalities. 286. The two statutes which the “Government in the Sunshine” law that opened up access to apply to most meetings and records are known as the “Sunshine meetings of just about every aspect of State and local government Acts. “Agencies” are defines as most sub-divisions of state or local government. See 93 Op.A. counties.C. executive.G. § 50-14-1(a)(1). or 1  Georgia’s Public Records Laws • The Act provides that public records shall be open for a personal inspection by “any citizen of [the] state.G.01. O. books.A. Gen.C. Fla. business. 27 (1993). or persons acting on their behalf.A.

or other material.A. home to be open unless it involves medical records. § 119. Stat.G. Stat. § 50-18-70(a). Stat. § 119. state attorneys. data processing software. §119. 49. Stat. Law telephone number.” • Fla. Fla. § 50-18-72 (a)(5). Pursuant to an discipline of public employees and applications for attorney general’s opinion.A.G.entity created pursuant to law or this Constitution.C. 2  information. • Non-governmental bodies that are “acting on behalf” of a public agency are also subject to the public records law.G. § 50-18including those of judges." Fla. Fla. 97of time after they come into the hands of an agency.C.A. O.C.containing addresses. papers. § 50-18-72 (a)(5) & (7).G. and municipal records shall at all times be open for a personal inspection by any person” • A “public record” is all "documents.1) defenders -. telephone numbers or • Trade Secrets – exempted from public disclosure under pictures of those personnel or their spouse or children are O.A. tapes. films. § 50-18-72 (a)(2) to release personally identifiable medical records under a • Personnel Records . social security number.135. letters. § 406.Personnel evaluations from outside federal law – the Health Insurance Portability and sources are exempt from the public records law under Accountability Act. Att'y Gen. maps. Autopsy records are exempt from O. and insurance enforcement and criminal justice personnel records – or medical information.G.A.071(4)(d). O.   .C. photographs. regardless of physical form. O.011(12). and public 72(a)(13)(13.011(2) Commonly Encountered Exemptions: Commonly Encountered Exemptions: • Medical records – exempt from the public records law • Medical Records – Health care providers are directed not under O. sound recordings.G.C. Records relating to the public view under Fla. public hospital records are government employment are exempt for a certain period open under Florida Records law. Op. books.A. § 50-18-72 (b)(1) exempt under § 119. made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency. characteristics or means of transmission.C. Public Universities are • Real Estate Records – Records made by or for a state granted permission to promulgate rules exempting records entity related to real estate purchases are not public until of faculty and administrators from the public records law. county.01: “it is the policy of this state that all state. Public disclosure is not • Personnel Records – Generally determined by the courts required for a public employee’s home address.

§ 50-18-72 (a)(6)(A)(B). which are public records at all times.07(4)(a)(1). O. Social Security Numbers – Agencies have to keep social security numbers confidential under Fla.• • • • • • after the transaction is completed or abandoned. arrest. § 119.1) Security Plans – Public disclosure is not required for records of security plans that would compromise security against sabotage or criminal or terrorist acts and the nondisclosure of which is necessary for the protection of public safety. Stat.91. Trade Secrets – exempt under Fla.A. Fla. O. § 50-18-71 (d) Fees: • Public bodies can charge the actual cost of duplication for records. Fla. Stat.25 cents per page for copies. § 119. Records of internal investigations of law enforcement personnel or public university faculty or administrators are also exempted until the investigation is complete.G. they are open under the public records law.533(2). § 50-18-72 (a)(4). 166.A.14 Criminal Investigations – Records of active criminal investigations that will lead to intelligence gathering about ongoing criminal activity are exempt from the public records law. § 119. § 50-18-72 (a)(15 • • Fla.A. Fla.C.045 Real Estate Records – The following statutes protect record regarding a property acquisition by a state or local government entity until after a contract for sale has been inked: Fla. §§ 125. • A special service charge can be charged if a request requires extensive use of technology resources or clerical support to compile but should be a reasonable charge based on the actual costs to the agency Fla.A.G. See O. Stat.C. § 50-18-72 (a)(11. § 815. Fees: • Records custodians may charge up to $.C.071(2).07(1)(b) 3    . § 50-18-71 (c)(d) • The charges for finding and segregating the public records that are requested must be based on the rate of pay of the lowest paid employee authorized to search for and organize those records.071(3). plans or procedures of any state agency or private entity are exempted from the public records law.G. Stat. but the first 15 minutes of searching is free. § 119. police blotters and incident reports do not contain records of active criminal investigations. Security Plans – Security plans that would reveal security systems.G. Criminal Investigations – Records of active criminal investigations are exempt from public disclosure under O.G. Stat. § 112.355.045.C.C. except for the initial police. O. Fla. To what extent accident reports. § 1012. Stat. 1013.G. and initial incident. Stat. Social Security Numbers – An individual’s social security number and insurance or medical information in personnel records may be redacted from such records. See O.A. Stat. not to exceed 15 cents a page for letter or legal size copies. § 119.071(5) unless they are open under another statute. Stat.A. as well as reasonable search and retrieval fees.C.

• Computer Records: The public records act covers electronic records, and if an agency maintains a record in electronic form, it must provide it in that form upon request. Fla. Stat. § 119.01(2)(f) Penalties: • A records custodian who willfully and knowingly defies the terms of the public records statute commits a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year of prison and a fine up to $1000. Fla. Stat. 119.10 • A requestor can sue in circuit court for denial of access to records and if they win can get attorneys fees. Fla. Stat. § 119.12(1).

No fee can be charged for a simple inspection of the record. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-71 Computer Records: Computer-based or computer-generated information is a public record. If an agency maintains a record in electronic form, it must provide it in that form upon request. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-70 (g) Penalties: • A person who knowingly and willfully violates the open records act by failing to provide proper access, or failing to provide access within the proper time limits, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $100. O.C.G.A. §15-1874 • A requestor can bring an action for a violation of the Open Records Act in superior court. O.C.G.A. § 50-1873 (a). Also, the attorney general has jurisdiction to enforce open records violations. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73 (a). • Any agency or person who provides access to information in good faith reliance on the requirements of the Open Records Act shall not be liable in any action on account of having provided access to such information. O.C.G.A. § 50-18-73 (c).

Georgia’s Open Meetings Laws General terms of the statute: Meetings of a state or local government entity are open to the public. OC.G.A. § 50-14-1(a)(2). The term “meeting” is defined as a quorum of the government body when official action is taken, discussed or presented. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(a)(2).

Florida’s Open Meetings Laws General terms of the statute: "All meetings of any board or commission of any state agency or authority or of any agency or authority of any county, municipal corporation, or political subdivision . .” must be open to the public. Fla. Stat. § 286.011(1). Meeting is further defined by case law to be a gathering of two or more members of the governmental board or commission at issue. Deerfield Publishing Inc. v. Robb, 530 So.2d 510 (Fla. 4th DCA 1988)


Notice: The board or commission must provide reasonable notice of the meeting. Fla. Stat. § 286.011(1). Minutes of the meeting must be recorded and available to the public. Fla. Stat. § 286.011(2). Commonly Encountered Exemptions: • Pending litigation - A commission or board may meet in private to discuss pending litigation with the entity’s attorney, but a transcript needs to be taken, which should be released to the public after the litigation is over. Fla. Stat. § 286.011(8) • Trade Secrets - Trade secrets shall not be disclosed at a public meeting. Fla. Stat. §403.111. • Student Records - Meetings involving a parent or guardian’s challenge to a student record are exempt from the public meetings statute. Fla. Stat. § 286.011

Notice: Every public meeting must be noticed by posting a notice including the place and date of the meeting in a conspicuous place where the government body usually meets. O.C.G.A. 50-14-1 Commonly Encountered Exemptions: • Pending litigation - Meeting where government entities will consult with legal counsel about pending or potential litigation are exempt from the public meeting law. O.C.G.A. § 50-14-2 • Employment decisions- Meetings involving discussions or deliberations regarding employee appointments, hiring or disciplinary actions are closed. O.C.G.A. 50-14-3(6). However, votes on these same issues must be taken in public. • Real Estate – Meetings discussing future real estate purchases are exempt from the open meetings act. O.C.G.A. 50-14-3(4) • Trade Secrets – There is no mention of trade secrets in the open meetings act. • Student Records – Meetings involving student records are not exempted from the open meetings law. Red & Black Publishing C. v. Board of Regents, 427 S.E. 2d 257 (1993). Email: Although the open meetings law doesn’t address email, the Georgia Supreme Court has found that meetings conducted on email are subject to the open meetings act. Kilgore v. R.W. Page Corp., 261 Ga. 410, 405 S.E.2d 655 (1991). Email: An attorney general opinion indicates that the open meetings law applies to meetings conducted on email. Op. Att'y Gen. 2001-20 (2001). Penalties: • Members of a board or commission who attend a meeting that is in violation of the open meetings law can be

Penalties: An elected official that violates the open meeting act can be subject to a recall election. O.C.G.A. §21-4-3


convicted of a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by a term in prison up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500. Fla. Stat. § 286.011(3)(b). Any other government official violating the terms of the statute can be fined up to $500. Fla. Stat. § 286.011(3)(a)

Prepared by:

Catherine J. Cameron Professor of Legal Skills Stetson University College of Law 1401 61st St. So. Gulfport, Fl 33707 (727)562-7884

Much of the information regarding Georgia law was taken from the work of :

Hollie Manheimer Georgia First Amendment Foundation


LIBEL & PRIVACY: MINIMIZING THE RISKS OF PUBLISHING ONLINE  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    An online publisher is exposed to potential legal liability with every news article, blog post,  podcast, video, or even a user comment. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise because  the Internet, after all, is available to anyone who wishes to connect to the network, and even  the smallest blog or most obscure discussion forum has the potential to reach hundreds of  millions of people throughout the world. Often the legal risks are small, but not always. The risk  can take a number of forms, depending on what and the nature of the publication. The section  that follows is intended to help online publishers identify potential “red flags” when publishing  something that might result in liability, and can know to be extra careful to take the necessary  steps to minimize potential legal risks.    First, if what is published contains information that harms the reputation of another person,  group, or organization, the online publisher may be liable for "defamation" or "false light."  Defamation is the term for a legal claim involving injury to reputation caused by false  statements of fact and includes both libel (typically written or recorded statements) and  slander (typically spoken statements). False light, which is similar to defamation, generally  involves untrue factual implications. The crux of both of these claims is falsity; truthful  statements and implications that harm another's reputation will not create liability, although  they may open the online publisher up to other forms of liability if the information published is  of a personal or highly private nature.     Second, if the news website publishes private or personal information about someone without  their permission, the online publisher is exposed to legal liability even if its portrayal is factually  accurate. For example, in most states a publisher can be sued for publishing private facts about  another person, even if those facts are true. The term "private facts" refers to information  about someone's personal life that has not previously been revealed to the public, that is not of  legitimate public concern, and the publication of which would be offensive to a reasonable  person. This would include such things as writing about a person's medical condition, sexual  activities, or financial troubles.    If the online publisher uses someone else's name, likeness, or other personal attributes without  their permission for an exploitative purpose it could also face liability for what is called  misappropriation or right of publicity. Usually, people run into trouble in this area when they  use someone's name or photograph in a commercial setting, such as in advertising or other  promotional activities. But, some states also prohibit use of another person's identity for the  user's own personal benefit, whether or not the purpose is strictly commercial.  

  Third, if the news website has web forums, allow reader comments, host guest bloggers on the  site, or if the site reposts information received from RSS feeds, section 230 of the  Communications Decency Act (“CDA 230”) will likely shield online publishers from liability for  problematic statements made by their users, guests and other third‐parties. This important  federal law protects website operators from tort liability for statements contained in these  materials – and any other user‐submitted content – published on the site. Online publishers will  not lose this immunity even if they edit this content, whether for accuracy or civility, and are  entitled to immunity so long as the edits do not substantially alter the meaning of the original  statements. Keep in mind that CDA 230 will only protect online publishers – and not the online  publisher itself, an employee or someone acting under its direction – posts something on the  blog or website. It does not shield online publishers from its own statements.       PUBLISHING INFORMATION THAT HARMS ANOTHER'S REPUTATION    Defamation is the general term for a legal claim involving injury to one's reputation caused by a  false statement of fact and includes both libel (defamation in written or fixed form) and slander  (spoken defamation). The crux of a defamation claim is falsity. Truthful statements that harm  another's reputation will not create liability for defamation (although they may open an online  publisher up to other forms of liability if the information published is of a personal or highly  private nature).    Defamation in the United States is governed by state law. While the U.S. Constitution sets some  limits on what states can do in the context of free speech, the specific elements of a  defamation claim can ‐‐ and often do ‐‐ vary from state to state.       Generally speaking, a person who brings a defamation lawsuit must prove the following:    1. The defendant published the statement. In other words, that the defendant uttered or  distributed it to at least one person other than the plaintiff. There is no requirement  that the statement be distributed broadly, to a large group, or even to the general  public. If something is published on the Internet, it can be assumed that this  requirement has been met.    2. The statement is about the plaintiff. The statement need not name the person explicitly  if there is enough identifying information that those who know the person will recognize  the statement as being about him or her.  

    3. The statement harmed the reputation of the plaintiff, as opposed to being merely  insulting or offensive. Generally speaking, a defamatory statement is a false statement  of fact that exposes a person to hatred, ridicule or contempt, lowers him in the esteem  of his peers, causes him to be shunned, or injures him in his business or trade.     4. The statement was published with some level of fault. Fault requires that the defendant  did something he should not have done or failed to do something he should have.  Depending on the circumstances, the plaintiff will either need to prove that the  defendant acted negligently, if the plaintiff is a private figure, or with actual malice, if  the plaintiff is a public figure or official.    5. The statement was published without any applicable privilege. A number of privileges  may be available depending on what the defendant published and the source(s) he  relied on for the information.    In cases involving public officials, public figures or matters of public concern, a plaintiff must  prove that the statement was false. In cases involving matters of purely private concern, in  many states the burden of proving truth is on the defendant. This is not to say that every detail  published must be perfectly accurate to avoid liability. If a few minor details are wrong, this will  not necessarily negate the truth of what is published so long as the statement at issue is  substantially true. Statements of pure opinion, which cannot be proven true or false, cannot  form the basis of a defamation claim (e.g., a statement that Bill is a jerk, is clearly a statement  of opinion).     Keep in mind that the republication of someone else's defamatory statement can itself be  defamatory. In other words, an online publisher won't be immune simply because it is quoting  another person making the defamatory statement, even if it properly attributes the statement  to its source. For example, if an online publisher quotes a witness to a traffic accident who says  the driver was drunk when he ran the red light and it turns out the driver wasn't drunk and he  had a green light, it can't hide behind the fact that it was merely republishing the witness'  statement (which would likely be defamatory).    On the other hand, if an online publisher repeats what someone else said or wrote in an official  hearing or official document, there’s an important privilege that may protect online publishers  provided that it attributes the information and is accurate in its reporting.   

g..There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that  may protect an online publisher – but not the publisher itself or its employee ‐‐ posts  something on the blog or website that is defamatory. a plaintiff may  also be able to recover punitive damages.     Damages for Defamation    In most states.    If a plaintiff succeeds in proving defamation. but can also include mental anguish or suffering associated with the  defamation.  intrusion. In the states that do recognize a cause of action  for false light.  • States or implies that an unmarried person is unchaste (e.     4    . This includes not only out‐of‐pocket expenses (e. While the nature of false light claims vary by state. which are awarded in addition to compensatory  damages and are intended to punish the defendant.  they generally protect people from offensive and false facts stated about them to the public. doctor's bills).. he or she is entitled to recover what is called  compensatory damage.g. the plaintiff must also prove that the defamatory statement caused him or her  actual damage.    Not all states recognize claims for false light.    Note that some states require that a plaintiff must first ask the defendant to correct or remove  the defamatory statement in order to be entitled to certain types of damages. mental anguish and suffering. which is the payment of money to compensate the plaintiff for the  wrong that has been done. or  • States or implies that the person has committed a crime of moral turpitude (e.g. Some jurisdictions also recognize "per se" defamation.     FALSE LIGHT CLAIMS    False light is one of the four categories of "privacy torts" (the others being misappropriation. Actual damages include such things as the loss of a job because of the  defamatory statement.. theft or  fraud).  • States or implies that a person is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. is sexually active). and lost wages and benefits if the  defamation caused the plaintiff to lose employment. In limited circumstances.  but also personal humiliation. the specific requirements to raise a claim vary. where damage is presumed  if the defamatory statement relates to one of the following subjects:    • Impugns a person's professional character or standing. and publication of private facts).

 even if the article and photo caption never make the explicit false statement  (i. a false light claim requires the following:    1. the defendant was at fault in publishing the information. while defamation does not require offensiveness so  5    . identifying the person in the photo as a sex offender) that would support a defamation  claim. Some states note that false light requires the statement in question to be  highly offensive to a reasonable person.    For example. the publication identifies the plaintiff. For instance.    Several states view false light as more narrow than defamation in certain respects ‐‐ that is. while a defamatory statement could be made to  only a few people. In fact.e.    Distinguishing Between False Light and Defamation Claims    False light is similar to defamation. false light  requires broad publication to many people. The defendant published the information widely (i. but there is still a great deal of overlap. not to just a single person. Most states that allow false light claims recognize some  differences between false light and defamation. California holds that unlike defamation. false light concerns untrue implications  rather than directly false statements. it places the plaintiff in a "false light" that would be highly offensive to a reasonable  person. a sex offender could give rise to a  false light claim. For instance. in fact. as in  defamation).  someone might be able to sue for defamation but not false light.e.    2.Generally speaking.    3.. and    4.    Several states that allow both false light claims and defamation claims differentiate the two by  saying they protect people against different harms flowing from false statements. an article about sex offenders illustrated  with a stock photograph of an individual who is not.    See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652E.. These states  indicate that defamation protects a person's public reputation while false light remedies the  victim of a false statement for his or her emotional distress.  a number of states do not recognize false light claims at all because of the overlap with  defamation and because the vague nature of the tort might chill free speech.

 an online publisher/ reporter would not be liable for intrusion if  she photographs or captures video of people in public places. she could be liable  for a violation of what is called "intrusion upon seclusion. For example. In the newsgathering context. Nor will she be liable for intrusion if she gathers private information from documents  that are available to the general public. an intrusion claim rests solely on the way in which information is gathered.    PUBLISHING PERSONAL AND PRIVATE INFORMATION    If a reporter physically enter a private area. a number of  states require the plaintiff to make a stronger showing that the defendant is at fault for false  light than for defamation. If the  6    . Finally. be particularly mindful of the formatting of the site.    Online publishers should note that it is not necessary that the photographs or information are  published. Be sure that the  website doesn't get reformatted in such a way as to create an unwitting juxtaposition of images  and stories that creates a connotation that the online publisher had not intended." If the reporter collects certain  personal data.    Avoiding False Light Claims    False light lawsuits often arise on the margins of stories. because individuals cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy when in  public. however. Statements that may seem innocuous or harmless may offend a reader and could  give rise to a lawsuit if they are also false. even if they have not consented  to being recorded. for example. and  inadvertently create the impression that a person caught at random in the photo was  frequenting the prostitutes.     When working online. opening the person's mail).long as the statement actually harmed the reputation of the plaintiff.  the actual collection of the data could be seen as intrusion if the method used meets the four  general elements for an intrusion claim.  one might use a stock photo of a particular street to illustrate a story on local prostitution. An online publisher should be careful about what is used to  illustrate its work    Always be careful to check all facts and document the support for all of the information  published. rather then at their core. or in some other way  intrude into a person's privacy (by.    Generally speaking. photograph or take video of people engaged in  private activities in places where they reasonably expect to be private. this can also intrude into a person's private affairs.

     Using the Name or Likeness of Another: The legal claim known as "misappropriation of name  or likeness" is a species of invasion of privacy. likeness. Over time.  likeness. however. such as in  advertising or other promotional activities. An online publisher commits this kind of invasion of privacy by publishing  private facts about an individual. These  legal claims usually apply to the use of a name or image in a commercial setting. a court might find that the publication is lawful.  the person’s fitness to serve in public office. These laws originally  sprang from a policy objective of protecting personal privacy. but they may apply anytime an online publisher  takes advantage of another person's identity for its own benefit. or other personal attributes without permission for an exploitative purpose. and other personal attributes for  certain exploitative purposes. individuals cannot  7    .  Determining what facts are of legitimate public concern is often difficult to determine. or other personal  attributes in a commercial setting. if the facts in question are not  legitimately newsworthy. the publication of which would be offensive to a reasonable  person. the online publisher can also face liability for  what is called “publication of private facts. for instance. however.  the ability to profit from authorizing others to use one's name.    Specifically.”    When an online publisher publishes information about someone without permission. the law developed and also  recognized the importance of protecting the commercial value of a person's identity ‐‐ namely. this medical condition is particularly relevant to some topic of public interest ‐‐ say." which is closely related. there are two types of legal claims that relate to unauthorized publication of  personal and private information:    Publication of Private Facts: The legal claim known as "publication of private facts" is a species  of invasion of privacy. Most states have  laws limiting a publisher’s ability to publish private facts about someone and recognizing an  individual’s right to prevent use of his or her name. it might be liable for publication of private facts. the aim was to safeguard  individuals from embarrassing disclosures about their private lives and from uses of their  identities that are hurtful or disruptive of their lives.private information is subsequently published. it is  potentially exposed to legal liability even if the portrayal is factually accurate. So. However. Over time the courts also recognized a legal claim  for violation of the "right of publicity. if the online publisher discloses the fact that a  person has an embarrassing health condition. such as for advertising goods or services. so the  online publisher may want to get permission before disclosing potentially embarrassing  information about an individual. photograph. An online publisher commits  misappropriation and/or violates the right of publicity when it uses an individual's name. This legal claim can only be successful.  If.

stop every mention. a defamation claim cannot succeed because an online  publisher has a right to publish truthful information even if it injures another's reputation. even if they turn out to be  false.    PRIVILEGES AND DEFENSES    There are times. The most important defense is "truth. or reporting on their lives or activities. or by judges while sitting on the bench are typically  privileged and cannot support a cause of action for defamation.") But. as they  will make their work more accurate and credible).     As a general rule. But  truth is not the only defense that may be available. In  such a situation. the risks are manageable and  online publishers can take certain steps to protect themselves. carefully attributing their sources and quotes. a defamation claim cannot succeed because of the right to report on  allegations made in court regardless of whether they are true. if  the online publisher advertises its website using the photograph of a famous rival blogger (or  even an unknown rival blogger) without permission. however." If the  statement at issue is substantially true. if an online publisher  publishes a defamatory allegation made by a party in a lawsuit. if the online publisher writes an article commenting on the  posts of that same blogger and include his picture. when even the most careful publisher can be sued for defamation. if online publishers follow good journalistic practices and standards ‐‐ being  thorough. Similarly. and accurate in what they publish. statements by  legislators on the floor of the legislature. For example. and many states  explicitly exempt news reporting and other expressive activities from liability. then it generally can avoid  liability. (Another way of saying this is that it might be liable for violating the  blogger's "right of publicity. Most importantly.     While these laws can create pitfalls for citizen media creators. it generally won't be liable for using the  blogger's name without permission or including the photograph for illustrative purposes. fair. discussion.  and not phrasing statements in such a way as to create implications that they do not intend or  do not have the evidence to support ‐‐ this will minimize the likelihood that they will be  successfully sued for defamation (honing these good habits has other benefits as well. if online  publishers stick to reporting or commenting on matters of legitimate public interest and only  portray people who have a reasonable relationship to the topic.    8    . a number of defenses may be available depending on what was published and  the source(s) relied upon for the information. even if it turns out that the  allegation is false. then it might be liable for misappropriation  of that person’s likeness. For example.

  made clear that the public document or statement was the source. courts have developed a number of defenses which often called "privileges"  by lawyers. such as  when a politician who opposes a health care bill says that the bill's sponsor is taking  money from the pharmaceutical industry.    SUBSTANTIAL TRUTH    9    ."     • Fair Report Privilege: This very important privilege may apply if an online publisher relied  on a public document or a statement by a public official for the incorrect information. even if they are outrageous or widely off the mark.Sometimes the reliance on these sources may result in the publication of defamatory  falsehoods. To deal with the tension between the  possibility of defaming individuals and the importance of reporting the news and information in  a timely manner.    • Wire Service Defense: If an online publisher republishes information from a reputable  news source (such as the Associated Press) it may be entitled to the wire service defense  if it turns out that the information was false. which sets the maximum amount of  time plaintiffs can wait before bringing a lawsuit after the events they are suing over have  occurred.     • Opinion and Fair Comment Privileges: Statements of opinion generally cannot support a  cause of action for defamation.    • Neutral Reportage Privilege: The neutral reportage privilege covers unverified accusations  made by one public figure about another on a matter of legitimate public interest.    • Statute of Limitations: If the plaintiff has waited too long to file a lawsuit. and fairly and  accurately used the source. A  defense similar to opinion is "fair comment on a matter of public interest. the defamation  claim might be barred by the statute of limitations. but in publishing the information an online publisher is performing the vital civic  function of making information available to the public and of playing a watchdog role with  regard to the government and other interests in society.     Possible privileges and defenses include:    • Substantial Truth: "Truth" is an absolute defense to an action for defamation.

 v. the plaintiff tried to argue that inaccurate quotations were  evidence of actual malice.S. The resulting doctrine is known  as "substantial truth.S.S. 385 U. The Court stated:    We conclude that a deliberate alteration of the words uttered by a plaintiff does not  equate with knowledge of falsity for purposes of New York Times Co. See New York Times Co. noting the  difficulty of taking notes and translating from recordings and the need to edit a speaker's  comments into a coherent statement."Truth" is an absolute defense against defamation. The Supreme Court refused to adopt such a stringent rule. 411 (1967). Robert Welch." Under the substantial truth doctrine. only the "gist" or "sting" of a statement must be correct.  254 (1964)." Courts have said that some false statements must be protected for the  wider purpose of allowing the dissemination of truthful speech. (citations omitted)     The Court went on to note the use of quotation marks to directly attribute inaccurate  statements to the speaker "bears in a most important way on [this] inquiry. Hill. a publisher is given more leeway for inaccuracies  when he is interpreting his sources than when he is purporting to be providing a "direct account  of events that speak for themselves. Sullivan and  Gertz v. Consequently. a plaintiff has to provide  convincing evidence of a defamatory statement's falsity in order to prove defamation.    The substantial truth defense is particularly powerful because a judge will often grant summary  judgment in favor of a defendant (thus disposing of the case before it goes to trial) if the  defendant can show that the statement the plaintiff is complaining about is substantially true.    Substantial truth can also be a flashpoint for libel cases involving public figures and officials who  must show actual malice by the defendant in order to recover. Inc. unless the alteration results in a material change in the  meaning conveyed by the statement. v. Sullivan. and Time Inc. 401 U. v.    Some examples of statements that courts have found to be "substantially true":    10    . but it is not  dispositive in every case. minor factual inaccuracies will be  ignored so long as the inaccuracies do not materially alter the substance or impact of what is  being communicated. 496 (1991)." Generally speaking. 279 (1971)." Time. Pape. v. In other words. New Yorker  Magazine.    The law does not require that a statement must be perfectly accurate in every conceivable way  to be considered "true. Inc. 501 U.. 376 U.S.  making the defense a quick and relatively easy way to get out of a long (and potentially  expensive) defamation case. In Masson v.

  A statement that an animal trainer beat his animals with steel rods. Moore. when actually he had  beaten them with wooden rods. etc.    •   •   •   •   OPINION AND FAIR COMMENT PRIVILEGE    The right to speak guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U. For example. it could be defamatory.  A statement that Terry Nichols was arrested after the Oklahoma City Bombing.•   • A statement that a boxer tested positive for cocaine. stupid. As a result. they cannot form the basis for a defamation claim. when actually he had only been  arrested but not arraigned.D.. If a statement implies some false  underlying facts.  Rep.  Inc. Time Inc. and comment on matters of public interest. an online publisher can safely state its opinion that others are inept. Mich. 396 F. Inc. See People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. 585 (M. when  actually he had only been held as a material witness. 2005). Heritage Newspapers. See Koniak v. criticize others.  2d 783 (E. It also  protects the use of hyperbole and extreme statements when it is clear these are rhetorical  ploys. Rep.  A statement that a man was charged with sexual assault.D. Super. or that someone  11    .    This is not to say that every statement of opinion is protected. App. Ct. Berosini. 1097 (Del. 238  (1992). See Cobb v. 1998). Supp.  895 P. Enquirer & News of Battle Creek. Such terms represent what is called "pure opinions" because they can't be  proven true or false. Tenn 1995). See Nichols v. failures.2d 1269 (Nev. 24 Media L.S. even though these statements might hurt the subject's feelings or diminish  their reputations. Accordingly. Couching false statements of fact as  opinion or within quotes from other sources generally won’t protect online publishers either.  A statement that a man was sentenced to death for six murders. the mayor  killed her husband" is not likely to be a protected opinion.. 440 Mich. 198 Mich. See Rouch v. Constitution includes the  right to voice opinions. when actually he had tested positive  for marijuana. 15 Media L.  A statement that a father sexually assaulted his stepdaughter 30‐50 times. See Stevens v.  Nor will trying to cover by saying that a politician “allegedly” is a drug dealer.. 577 (1993). stating that "in my opinion. Independent Newspapers. 1995).  jerks. when in fact he was only  sentenced to death for one. when the  stepdaughter testified he had done so only 8 times.

 Danielle is failing out of school" it would likely lead its readers to  assume that there are some unstated facts it relied on to draw its conclusion. the politician is a drug  dealer. "Chris is a  thief" can be proven false by showing that throughout his entire life Chris never stole anything.    Distinguishing Between Statements of Fact and Opinion    In general.    Keep in mind that even if the online publisher states the facts relied upon for the opinion. as what constitutes a moron is a subjective view that varies with  the person: one person's moron is not necessarily the next person's moron." it  cannot be the basis for a defamation claim. if the online publisher  says that "In my opinion. Under this test. If a statement is a "pure opinion. if an online publisher states "In my opinion. courts will generally look at the  totality of the circumstances surrounding the statement and its publication to determine how a  reasonable person would view the statement. by contrast. are not necessarily outside the opinion  privilege. For example.  technically. the privilege will not apply." this provides the reader with the information it is basing the opinion on. Danielle is failing out of school because she failed biology. if an online publisher  were to say "In my opinion." The latter is an opinion (or.    All opinions that rely on underlying facts." the  privilege would not apply if she got a C in biology.    12    . If the online publisher states the facts on which it is basing its opinion. Put another way. and the  opinion stated could be reasonably drawn from those truthful facts. facts are statements that can be proven true or false. and  allows the reader to come to his own conclusion.else said the politician “is a drug dealer. Danielle is  failing out of school because she is a blond and the only thing I ever see her do at the library is  check Facebook. For example.    To determine whether a statement is an opinion or a fact. "a pure opinion"). A reader may well assume that the publisher has unstated facts to base the conclusion  on. opinions are  matters of belief or ideas that cannot be proven one way or the other. For example. the online publisher will be  protected even if the conclusion turns out to be incorrect. however. as the privilege does not protect back door entry of facts as "opinion"  through innuendo.  there would be no way to prove that Chris is not a moron.” or that in writer’s opinion. Such a statement  would not be protected. but  those facts turn out to be false. the difference between an  opinion and a fact often comes down to a case‐by‐case analysis of the publication's context.  Compare that statement with "Chris is a complete moron. and it would be a defamatory statement if the implied facts turn out to be false. On the other hand.

  stating that "Chris is insane" could be both a fact and an opinion. Inc." Seelig v.    Some examples of protected opinions include the following:    • Statements in the "Asshole of the Month" column in Hustler magazine that described a  feminist leader as a "pus bloated walking sphincter. courts often rely on  context and common‐sense logic (or to phrase it in legalese. the statement would likely be interpreted as an opinion." and someone who suffers  from "bizarre paranoia" were protected opinion because the context of the magazine and  column made it clear that the statements were "understood as ridicule or vituperation"  and "telegraph to a reader that the article presents opinions."  Leidholdt v. 97 Cal.    Keep in mind. Infinity  Broadcasting.2d 890 (9th Cir.P. Alex stole ten dollars from the  church collection basket" would lead most listeners to conclude that the publisher had  evidence that Alex had indeed stolen the money. L. 1998).N. Supp. failed. former  sheriff's deputy" was protected opinion because it was hyperbole and had an "alliterative  quality" with a "rhetorical effect indicative of a statement of opinion." "wacko. 1988). 1988). which is  an opinion. NYP  Holdings. It could mean Chris has been  diagnosed with psychosis and needs to be hospitalized in a mental institution.S. 53 (U. Hustler  Magazine v.. and that the publisher intended the  13    . 485 U.. As we  noted above. Ct. it is not always easy to determine whether a statement is a pure opinion. It could also mean that Chris has wacky ideas that one doesn't agree with.F. if one called Chris insane in a forum post as part of a heated  argument over politics.D." Saying that "in my opinion.    • A cartoon of a noted evangelist leader fornicating drunk in an outhouse with his mother  because the parody was so outrageous it could not "reasonably be understood as  describing actual facts" about Falwell or events in which he participated. the "totality of circumstances" of  the publication).S. Inc. not allegations of fact." Jewell v. opinions that imply false underlying facts will not be protected. that an online publisher can't make a statement an opinion merely by  prefacing it with "in my opinion. App.Y. 2002). Falwell. For example.2d 348 (S." "local  loser" and "big skank" were not defamatory because they were "too vague to be capable  of being proven true or false" and had "no generally accepted meaning.Of course. 46. App. In determining which meaning the statement should be given. this could be  proven false. 860 F.    • Statement in the New York Post that referred to the plaintiff as a "fat. For example. 4th 798 (Cal.    • Statements on a radio talk show that described the plaintiff as a "chicken butt. however. 23 F.

 2001). short‐hand phrases and  language not generally found in fact‐based documents. the general tenor. Courts are likely to take into account the particular social conventions of the Internet  forum at issue in evaluating a statement's context. v.. such as how the courts would handle the nature of many  discussion forums.    But much remains to be determined.     14    . The statements were posted anonymously in the general  cacophony of an Internet chat‐room in which about 1. Inc. the postings are full of hyperbole. In regards to a post on a financial bulletin board site the court  noted:    Here.  Importantly. for example.2d 1261.     Global Telemedia International.D. courts will look at the context and medium in which the alleged defamation  occurred.statement as one of fact rather than opinion.Cal. such as corporate press releases  or SEC filings. a statement is more likely to be regarded as an opinion rather than a  fact if it occurs in an editorial blog as opposed to a piece of investigative journalism. free‐wheeling and  highly animated exchange about [the particular company] and its turbulent history. The postings at issue were anonymous as are all the  other postings in the chat‐room. in the present day. They were part of an on‐going. The courts do not give protection to false factual  connotations disguised as opinions. the setting and the format of [the] statements strongly suggest  that the postings are opinion. courts routinely held that referring to someone as a "Communist" was  defamatory. as it is a medium where the lack of face‐ to‐face contact can often make judging the actual meaning and context of a publication  difficult. . . . The wider  context may also provide a framework for the court: during the McCarthy‐era witch hunts of  the 1950s.000 messages a week are posted  about [the particular company]. 1267 (C. and courts would almost certainly find use of the word to be a  protected opinion.    Context and the Totality of the Circumstances    In general. invective. 132 F.Supp. Doe 1. A 2001 case that dealt with the opinion privilege is worth quoting at length  as an indication of the approach courts may well take in determining whether an online posting  is a statement of opinion or fact.    The Internet presents particular issues for the courts. "communist" has taken on a more generalized (if still often  derogatory) political meaning. For example.

    Keep in mind that not all states recognize the fair report privilege. The  defense allows online publishers to report on government activity without bearing the  overwhelming burden of first proving the truth of everything said in government documents  and proceedings. the source is an official public document or statement by a public official on a matter of  public concern. it will generally apply where:       1. about what people say during a council meeting or from the witness stand during a  trial or to quote from public records. the factors courts often use to determine whether a statement is a protected  opinion are:    • What is the common usage and specific meaning of the language used?  • Is the statement verifiable? Can it be proven false?  • What is the full context of the statement?  • What are the social conventions surrounding the medium the statement occurred in?      FAIR REPORT PRIVILEGE    The fair report privilege may protect online publishersfrom liability ‐‐ even if something is  defamatory ‐‐ if it relied upon a official public document or statement by a public official for the  false information. so check your state's  defamation section to confirm that the publisher is covered. In those states that do recognize  the privilege. and fairly and  accurately used the source. the court concluded that "the general tone and context of these messages strongly  suggest that they are the opinions of the posters. This privilege enables online publishers to freely report. the publisher fairly and accurately portrays the information from the document or  statement. made clear that the document or statement was the source." Id. and     3. at 1267. for  example.    To summarize.    15    . It is likely that other courts will  take a similarly broad view regarding Internet forums for purposes of the opinion privilege. there is proper attribution of the information to that source.     2.    The fair report privilege's historic rationale has been to encourage public scrutiny of  governmental activities through fair and accurate reporting of governmental proceedings.In short.

 each state defines the scope of the privilege differently. It would apply even if the online publisher had knowledge that the witness was  16    . In general. it  generally applies to publicly available government records. some states  extend the privilege to more private settings such as a meeting of a corporation's share holders. Interim and unfinished government records and  reports generally are not covered.Sources Covered By the Fair Report Privilege    While each state can decide for itself what sources are covered by the fair report privilege.  Please consult your state's defamation section for specifics. official government reports. the privilege is more likely to apply if the  statement or fact comes from a public figure acting in his official capacity or a final. or where the report is more preliminary or is inaccessible to the public. public  report. the privilege still  applies if the online publisher accurately reported and attributed the testimony he provided in  the first place.    Further. where those facts are  not recorded in the police report  • Gossip overheard on the courthouse steps  • Offhand remarks made by a government official in a private setting  • Statements made in a draft government report    Many sources may fall into gray areas.    Examples where the fair report privilege would probably apply include:    • Statements made by a judge in a trial  • A speech made by a city council member during a council meeting  • Testimony during a trial  • Facts recorded in a final police report  • Analysis reported in an Environmental Protection Agency survey    The privilege would probably not apply to:    • Statements made by an arresting officer about the facts of the case.    Ensuring That The Use of Sources is "Fair and Accurate"    Whether the statement is true or not does not matter for purposes of the fair report privilege:  even if the witness whose testimony relied on is later convicted of perjury. and  statements made by government officials. For example. It is less likely to apply where the figure is more private or is acting outside of his official  scope of duties.

. if online publishers publish what another person has said or written and that  statement turns out to be defamatory. it will generally apply  where:       1. Makes a serious charge on a matter of public interest. In those states that do recognize the privilege. but  many courts will find the privilege lost if the overall reporting is too one‐sided.     2.     3. the neutral reportage privilege is designed to protect the  interests of the press in reporting on matters of public interest. Against another public figure or organization. regardless of their veracity.    But what is critical is that the online publisher accurately report (or abridge fairly) the  information: reporting that the witness said the defendant deliberately burned down the house  when the witness had only said that the defendant accidentally dropped a match would not be  protected by the fair report privilege. Be particularly careful when the online publisher is  "translating" complex legalese.     Keep in mind that not all states recognize the neutral reportage privilege or apply it to non‐ traditional publishers. For  example. 1977). then corrects  herself thirty minutes later in the same testimony to indicate that she had really not seen the  robbery. which can often only be done  by reporting accusations made by one public figure about another. and     4.2d 113 (2d Cir.lying in his testimony. Not every fact must be included.  17    . complex statement  or document than at selective quotation that may be perceived as maliciously intending to  portray the subject in the least favorable light possible." looking far  more favorably at an honest mistake that was made in condensing a long. be careful not to use quotations selectively. 556 F. they may be liable for defamation even if they stated  that they believed the allegation was untrue. National Audubon Soc.    In general. if a witness in her testimony said she saw the defendant rob the store. A responsible. The charge is accurately and disinterestedly reported. Without a neutral reportage  privilege. courts will look at whether the online publisher acted in "good faith. The purpose of the privilege is to protect statements or facts from public  sources that are newsworthy in and of themselves. prominent organization or individual. quoting only the first part would likely fall outside the fair report privilege. Further.    Edwards v.    NEUTRAL REPORT PRIVILEGE    Although not widely adopted. so check your state's defamation section to confirm that the online  publisher is covered.

 The public interest in being fully informed about  controversies that often rage around sensitive issues demands that the press be afforded  the freedom to report such charges without assuming responsibility for them. App.  McCracken v.  • A newspaper report that a political campaign brochure accused the county's Italian‐ American judges of having mafia connections. 1978). But he also recognized that in his hands was a newsworthy story about  an accusation made by a prominent organization. .    Differing State Approaches to the Neutral Reportage Privilege    18    . 1996). Gainesville Tribune. App. Inc. .  The court explicitly stated that the reporter's knowledge of factual  inaccuracies in the story was immaterial to whether or not the privilege applied.  • A land developer calling another developer "unscrupulous" during a town meeting. The story posed a  dilemma. We do not believe  that the press may be required under the First Amendment to suppress newsworthy  statements merely because it has serious doubts regarding their truth. 1988 Ohio App.    Examples of the Neutral Reportage Privilege    Examples of instances where courts have applied the neutral reportage privilege include:    • Newspaper report that a state auditor accused a town trustee of faking a snow  emergency to gain access to emergency funds. 275 (Ga. Nor must the  press take up cudgels against dubious charges in order to publish them without fear of  liability for defamation.     Edwards. 146 Ga. LEXIS  2474 (Ohio Ct.. Netzley. The reporter had a good sense that the Audubon Society had little or no evidence to  back up its claims and that due to republisher liability he might well be liable for defamation if  he published the story. Watson v. . Ct. The court responded by recognizing a new  form of First Amendment protection:    What is newsworthy about such accusations is that they were made. Celebrezze v. LEXIS  3153 (Ohio Ct. 1988). 556 F.2d at 120. App. which reported  accusations made by the National Audubon Society that a group of scientists were behaving as  "paid liars" on the issue of whether DDT was harming bird populations. App. 1996 Ohio App. Leach. 274.  The privilege was first recognized in a 1977 case involving the New York Times.

 seems to be for courts to recognize the  privilege even when private figure plaintiffs are involved. 19 Cal. 271 (Cal.  In cases where the plaintiff is a private person. Even in those states that recognize  the privilege.” it may be  covered by a privilege called the "wire service defense.  Courts vary. Globe International. 1998) (plaintiff was a youth accused of involvement in the Robert  Kennedy assassination). few states  have clear state‐wide rulings on what the privilege entails." The courts go both ways on the issue of whether the  privilege applies to cases like these. courts have split over whether to  recognize the neutral reportage privilege. a prominent public figure. But  often this is not the case. Many judges have emphasized the trustworthiness of  the source as a key determining factor in whether the privilege applies.  Others are more lenient.    • Public interest and newsworthiness: A scientist allegedly covering up the fact that DDT  was killing birds was something the public had a strong interest in being informed of.  4th 254.    • Trustworthy and prominent sources: Few sources are more trustworthy and prominent  than the National Audubon society talking about an issue related to bird populations.      WIRE SERVICE DEFENSE    If an online publisher republishes a news item from a "reputable news service.     Generally speaking. The trend.Although the neutral reportage privilege has been adopted in some jurisdictions. See. which may also apply to republished content  from a third‐party. Major stories can come from sources who are neither  "trustworthy" nor "prominent. it will apply if:    19    . others take a  broader view on the circumstances of the story. in states that recognize the wire service defense. it can vary in important ways:    • Private figure plaintiffs: Edwards v. as to how legitimate the public interest needs to be." This defense to a defamation claim is  distinct from the immunity provisions in the section 230 of the Communications Decency Act  (commonly referred to as CDA 230 immunity). e. however.. Also keep in mind that judges will often look more favorably at  the applicability of the privilege if there is a strong public interest in the accusation.g. however. National Audubon involved an instance where the  person defamed (the plaintiff) was a nationally known scientist. Some require  that there must be a "raging controversy" involving an issue related to the public good. Khawar v.

    Each state sets it own time limits for bringing a lawsuit and a court will typically apply the  appropriate statute of limitations of the state in which the suit is filed.. the limitations period begins to run when a defamatory statement is  "published" (i. which vary between one  and three years. the statute of limitations could begin every time someone reads a blog post or finds  20    .    In the Internet context.  This time limit is typically set by state statute and is intended to promote fairness and keep old  cases from clogging the courts.    This rule is relatively easy to apply when a defamatory statement is spoken to a third person. communicated to someone other than the plaintiff). but courts have not yet looked at the wire‐service defense in light of  RSS feeds and similar distribution tools. since a  short time period reduces the potential chilling effects of speech‐challenging lawsuits. such as on the Internet? In  these situations. Generally speaking. the online publisher republished a news item from a reputable news agency.     3. the online publisher did not know the information was false. and     4.    Keep in mind that rewriting news items in a blog format will limit an online publisher’s ability to  invoke the wire service defense. The news item on its face does not indicate any reason to doubt its veracity.     2. For  example." Traditional wire services such as the Associated Press and United Press International  would likely be covered.    Determining When the Statute of Limitations Period Begins    Generally speaking.   1.    Each state has its own statute of limitations for defamation claims. it is not clear how wide a net is cast by the term "reputable news  agency. the limitations period for intrusion claims  begins to run on the date when the intrusion occurred. the statute of limitations could begin anew at the time of each publication. A relatively short  limitations period is an acknowledgment of the importance of free speech principles.e.     STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS    "Statute of Limitations" is a term used by courts to describe the maximum amount of time  plaintiffs can wait before bringing a lawsuit after the events they are suing over have occurred. the online publisher does not substantially alter the news items when republishing it.  But what about situations where publication is to a mass audience.

 Avoid obscure and salacious details that don't have direct bearing on the topic. For example.  misappropriation. a new statute  of limitations period may begin to run.    21    . If the purported defamatory content is re‐ published to a substantially different audience or is altered in a substantial way. only "one publication" is  deemed to have occurred for purposes of the statute of limitations. Some suggestions include:    • Report on subjects and facts that are newsworthy: Reporting on topics and facts that are  legitimately newsworthy typically will not invade the privacy of individuals portrayed in  the work or unlawfully exploit their names or likenesses.     While an online publisher can't always eliminate its legal risks when publishing private  information about individuals or using peoples' names and archive copy of a newspaper in a library. a new statute of limitations period will likely begin when the book is  published. As a result.  and don't use someone's photograph to illustrate the work unless they have some  reasonable connection to the issue at hand. if a magazine is distributed to thousands of news stands.    Single Publication Rule    Most states have adopted the so‐called "single publication rule. there are a number of  ways it can minimize the risk of being on the receiving end of a publication of private facts.    However. or right of publicity lawsuit. Generally. Following this latter advice can also help  avoid claims for defamation and false light. Courts will  likely find re‐publication has started a new statute of limitations period only when online  material is altered in a significant way: be careful to consider this if the online publisher is  thinking of substantially editing or rewriting old material. the statute of  limitation period begins when a defamatory statement is first made available online. if the material in a magazine is  incorporated into a book. even if the original material was published years  ago. the single publication rule is not absolute. For  example. It is not always easy to  determine whether a particular topic or fact is newsworthy." which states that the statute  of limitations period begins to run when a defamatory statement is first published. not when an extra copy of it left  over on the news stand is sold two weeks later.    Most states have applied the single publication rule to the Internet. the limitations  period begins when the magazine was initially made available. but common sense can go a  long way.

 to obtain information or  photographs that could not have been gotten otherwise. so that the online publisher can make an informed  decision about whether to go ahead as planned. Get consent in writing whenever possible.  Be upfront about the intended use of information and photographs: When reporters  interview or take photographs of someone. It is better to know  about these concerns ahead of time. When interviewing someone or taking photographs for later publication. get consent from the people covered: Consent is typically one of the  strongest defenses to publication of private facts. Getting information from publicly available court records is an especially good  idea because the First Amendment protects publishers when publishing truthful  information obtained from court records and doing so may also protect it from  defamation liability under the neutral report privilege. There are two consent  forms or "releases" that may be helpful ‐‐ a model release and an interview release. such as property records and public financial  information. such  as telephoto lenses or highly sensitive microphones. In addition. Gathering information in this  way result in liability for intrusion. and that a consenting  party generally may revoke consent any time prior to publication. it is unlikely that publication of that information will invade someone's  privacy.      •   •     22    . they should be clear with that person about  how the information gathered or photograph taken will be used. Reporters for online publishers should avoid using advanced equipment. and publishing material obtained through these  methods is more likely to violate someone's privacy. even if the information turns out  to be false. discussed immediately below. misappropriation. it is good  practice to seek consent to use the information gathered and/or photographs taken on  the website or blog.  Remember that minors cannot give consent on their own behalf. being upfront provides  context to ask for consent.• Gather information from publicly available sources whenever possible: If a publisher  relies on publicly available information. and right of publicity  claims.  Where possible.

 we have judges rejecting  attempts to find libel in 140 character snippets (Horizon Group Management LLC v. § 59H. 231.E. In 1997. On the one hand. a Boston‐area developer. Islamic Society of Arlington). which voted in favor of the project opposed by NEWRA. and also because she received compensation for doing so.     Fustolo v. 861. after instructing her to cover neighborhood meetings."  Id.     In denying Hollander’s motion.    Steven Fustolo. the trial court judge concluded "that Hollander did not  engage in petitioning activities 'on her own behalf as a citizen' because she wrote the articles in  her capacity as a reporter. Mass. On the other. Hollander. What the SJC cared about was that "Hollander's articles did not contain  . the newspaper began paying Hollander for her  stories.2d 837 (Mass. 2010)." and that she "sought to bring issues  that she considered important to the attention of residents. North End/Waterfront Neighborhood  Council. and government  officials. the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court agreed that her involvement in NEWRA did  not make her articles an exercise of her "right to petition" on the development issue because  the articles were objective journalistic accounts that did not advocate a particular position or  disclose the writer's involvement. In May and June 2006. sued Fredda Hollander for defamation based  on five articles written by Hollander for a community newspaper reporting on Fustolo’s plans  for development of three North End properties.  Two of these articles reported on NEWRA meetings: one to discuss the issue.  running the gamut from the sublime to the absurd. which the trial  court denied. Laws ch. Hollander filed a motion to dismiss the case  under the Massachusetts anti‐SLAPP statute. A third  article covered the meeting of another community group. politicians. the Regional Review published five articles  written by Hollander on the proposed development of three North End properties by Fustolo. 920 N." but ultimately concluded that her subjective and sincere personal interest was not  legally relevant.  objectively and factually.RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:  DEFAMATION AND INVASION OF PRIVACY  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    This year’s crop of defamation and invasion of privacy cases have been a mixed bag. and a second  meeting at which NEWRA voted to oppose redevelopment of one of the properties. 455 Mass. The court acknowledged that Hollander had "a personal  interest in the development issues that she wrote about. Staples). we have a three judge panel of  the First Circuit holding that a defendant can be guilty of libel even when the statements are  true (Noonan v.    Hollander was a co‐founder of the North End Waterfront Residents' Association  (NEWRA) and originally submitted articles to the Regional Review newspaper as a means of  advocating the organization's positions.Gen. Bonnen)  and finding that reporters can still be reporters even if they publish their work – gasp! – on the  Internet (Kaufman v. On  appeal. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed on appeal. including NEWRA meetings.

S.”  In a ruling issued from the bench." Id.  Upon Defendant’s motion to strike. Bonnen  posted the following tweet on May 12. e. 376  U. Ill.   Horizon Group Management LLC v.. New York Times Co. at 842. of probable  greater relevance to this case. 2009 L 8675 (Circ. 2010).statements seeking to redress a grievance or to petition for relief of her own.  Jan. According to the complaint. Amanda Bonnen.   . . Civ." "the scope of the statute has its limits.     The SJC took pains to emphasize that the denial of anti‐SLAPP protection would not  deprive journalists of the constitutional protections they (and others) enjoy against defamation  liability:   To the extent that Hollander fears a chilling effect on reporters and the press if they are  not entitled to claim the protection of the anti‐SLAPP statute in cases where they write  about contentious issues of public concern. filed  a defamation lawsuit against a former tenant. Cook County Circuit Court  Judge Diane J. . for fair reports of public meetings of both government  bodies and organizations such as NEWRA. over a tweet she posted about  the company on Twitter.    Horizon Realty Group."   Id. see. the court gave weight to an affidavit submitted by Hollander:   Indeed. including the  positions of both sides where applicable. . "they were not reflected in the articles I wrote.g. the Court dismissed Horizon’s lawsuit. Larsen held that Bonnen's tweet wasn't capable of supporting Horizon's claim  because it was "too vague to meet the legal standards of libel" and that the tweet could be  construed innocently or as a statement of opinion. with its constitutional overlay.   Id. 254 (1964). provides reporters with protection for both opinions and. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was  bad for you?  Horizon realty thinks it's ok. No. an apartment leasing and management company in Chicago. On  this point."  There is no reason to stretch the anti‐SLAPP statute beyond its appropriate boundaries  in order to create a level of protection for reporters beyond that to which they are  currently entitled under the existing defamation law. Ct. finding “the tweet  nonactionable as a matter of law. While "the Legislature intended to enact  very broad protection for petitioning activities." and that while she had personal views on the  issues she covered. 2009:   @JessB123 You should just come anyway. Cook County. Bonnen. at 844 (citations omitted). she was  "always careful to present an objective description of the subject matter. v. 27. we note that the common law of  defamation. she expressly stated in her affidavit that in writing all her articles. Sullivan. filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

 Misskelley. Although Maines admitted that she didn't  read Echols' 188‐page brief. The complaint also alleges that  Maines made defamatory statements at a "Free the West Memphis Three" rally.      In its decision granting summary judgment. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills and Paradise Lost  2: Revelations. false light. the court  focused on Maines' word‐for‐word use of the press release that was approved by Echols'  defense attorneys. In the letter. and Baldwin. 1. which originally outlined the evidence in question. Pasdar. Christopher Byers and Michael  Moore. This information appears to be based on Echols's  petition for a writ of habeus corpus challenging his conviction.     . 376 U. and even selling the movie  rights to his life story and to the life story of his deceased stepson Stevie Branch. (The underlying story is chronicled in  the HBO documentaries.     Terry Hobbs sued Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines and her band mates in Arkansas  state court for defamation. Maines claimed  that DNA evidence from the crime scene and other evidence linked Hobbs to the murders  rather than Echols. 2009). one of the  murdered children. Ark. Natalie  Pasdar) encouraged readers to support the movement to free the so‐called "West Memphis  Three" – Damien Echols. a copy of which is attached as an exhibit to the complaint.S. Dec. the court found that Hobbs was a limited  purpose public figure because he voluntarily injected himself into the public controversy  surrounding the guilt or innocence of the three teenagers by appearing in the HBO  documentaries and giving numerous of interviews to the print media about the DNA evidence  in question. and Jason Baldwin – three teenagers who were  convicted of murdering three eight‐year‐old boys in 1994. ¶ 15. 2009 WL 5462584 (E. Jesse Misskelley. Maines (who was sued under her married name. that they "made the  statements at issue with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard  for whether they were false or not. 4:09‐cv‐00008‐BSM.D.Hobbs v. The court determined that no reasonable jury could find that  Maines and her co‐defendants acted with actual malice—that is. appeared on talk shows including Anderson Cooper 360. Civ. Hobbs would have to demonstrate actual malice in  order to prevail on his claims. at *22. No. Sullivan.) Maines and her co‐ defendants removed the case to Arkansas federal court in January 2009. 254 (1964). which cast doubt on the guilt of the three teenagers.    In the letter. implicitly finding that this reliance on the legal experts was justifiable. the court found that under New  York Times v.     Having found that Hobbs was a limited public figure." Compl. and intentional infliction of emotional distress after  Maines published a open letter on the band's website and MySpace blog that allegedly  "accused [Hobbs] of committing the murder of Steve Branch."  Hobbs.

     While the court was careful to note that “[w]e do not hold. In the course of the article.     The appeals court rejected the plaintiffs’ contentions and found that Kaufman was  entitled to seek an interlocutory appeal pursuant to § 51. 291 S.”  Id. is a ‘national publication  which focuses mainly on the issues of politics and terrorism and has a monthly readership of  approximately 500.” finding that “articles communicated through the  internet equate in legal effect in some circumstances to words published by more traditional  electronic or print media. Prac. a group of Islamic organizations that co‐ sponsored the event.’ because Front Page Magazine  is simply Kaufman's own internet blog.  Kaufman subsequently sought an interlocutory appeal from the order denying summary  judgment pursuant to Tex. The court further noted that “various courts outside of  our jurisdiction have recognized the internet (either implicitly or explicitly) as a type of  nontraditional electronic media. and several other Islamic organizations sued Joe  Kaufman in Texas state court for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on  an article Kaufman wrote for a website called FrontPage Magazine. or Article I. an organization that describes itself  as a "civil rights organization and terrorism watchdog group. App.   .    The Islamic Society of Arlington. Plaintiffs. which was denied by the district court. Kaufman called for a protest of "Muslim Family Day" at Six Flags  Over Texas. that everyone  who communicates on the internet would qualify as a member of the electronic media under  section 51. noting that “Kaufman is a  full time investigative journalist. which allows "a member of  the electronic or print media" to appeal from the denial of a motion for summary judgment  when the action is one “arising under the free speech or free press clause of the First  Amendment to the United States Constitution. Islamic Society of Arlington.W. of the Texas Constitution.W."  In his article published on the  FrontPage Magazine website. at 139.’”  Id.3d 130 (Tx. . Civ. an amusement park in Arlington.014(a)(6).Kaufman v. Kaufman claimed that  two organizations sponsoring the event (who were not parties to the lawsuit) had ties to radical  Islamic groups abroad.” the court soundly rejected the contention that the medium of  communication should determine whether a person qualifies as a journalist. therefore. Code § 51. including Al‐Qaeda. . at 142.”  291 S.” and that “Front Page Magazine.”  Id. & Rem. and because Kaufman has not demonstrated that he  has the training associated with traditional journalism. 2009). Id. filed suit asserting a claim of defamation against Kaufman. at 140.014(a)(6).”   Plaintiffs opposed Kaufman’s motion on the grounds that he is not a media defendant for the  purposes the statute because “he ‘merely posts to the internet. at 141.     Kaufman filed a motion for summary judgment. The court held that “[w]e cannot agree with appellees that  Front Page Magazine's internet status alone costs Kaufman his benefit to file an interlocutory  appeal as a member of the electronic media. Texas. Section 8.3d at 138.     Kaufman is the chairman of Americans Against Hate.000. . .014(a)(6).

 Because that page included her photograph. 3d at 862. § 425. The newspaper published the "ode" in its Letters to  the Editor section. Rptr. Ct. The trial court granted the newspaper's motion to  strike the complaint under the California anti‐SLAPP statute (Cal. no reasonable person would have had an expectation of privacy  regarding the published material. 3d 858 (Cal..16).     The Court of Appeals."   .Moreno v.  but later abandoned their appeal against the newspaper. 91 Cal. a local newspaper. the  principal of the local high school. a UC Berkeley student who grew up in Coalinga. Roger Campbell. as  well as the principal's demurrer on both counts. however. Code Civ. held that the Morenos could not recover  for invasion of privacy because the facts published were not private:    Here. The court noted that misappropriation. Inc. Under  these circumstances.  also requires the plaintiff to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The court did.   91 Cal. Proc. Cynthia publicized her opinions about Coalinga by posting the Ode on  myspace.     In denying Moreno's request for permission to amend the complaint. even though she had not included her last name on her MySpace  page.2009). Townspeople subsequently  harassed Cynthia's family. App. Hanford Sentinel. attributing it to Cynthia and giving her full name. The Morenos originally appealed both rulings. a hugely popular internet site. Rptr. Fifth Appellate District.    Cynthia Moreno. Cynthia's affirmative act made her article  available to any person with a computer and thus opened it to the public eye.  The court also found that publishing Cynthia's full name along with the  article was not actionable. CA. the court also  determined that her publication on MySpace precluded any claim for misappropriation of her  name or likeness. discovered her post and gave a copy to a friend who worked  for the Coalinga Record. seeking to recover for invasion of privacy through publication of private facts and  intentional infliction of emotional distress. as a species of invasion of privacy. leaving only the principal."  Although Moreno removed the posting six days later. in a posting entitled "An  ode to Coalinga. ruling in the non‐published portion of the  decision that a jury could reasonably find that the principal's conduct in turning over a copy of  the "ode" to the newspaper was "extreme and outrageous.      Cynthia and her family filed suit against the principal and the publishers of the  newspaper.  reinstate the Morenos' emotional distress claim. the court determined that Cynthia's identity  as the author of the "ode" was public. forcing the family to move away and Moreno's father to abandon his  20‐year‐old family posted negative  statements about Coalinga and its inhabitants on her MySpace page.

 Gen. That Staples did not timely raise the issue is also made clear by the fact that it  has not. In addition to  ensuring compliance.  The court therefore ruled that Noonan could prevail on his libel claim if Baitler’s email  was sent with malevolent intent or ill will.       Staples filed a motion for a rehearing en banc. filed the notice required for a challenge to the constitutionality of a  state statute. was fired for alleged violations of the firm’s  travel and expense policy. the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on  Noonan’s claims. R.  After the  case was removed to federal court. 2009). See Fed. P.  Noonan subsequently filed suit in state court against  Staples. As always. Compliance with  company policies is not subject to personal discretion and is not optional. until now. and the fact that the issue  raises constitutional concerns does not save the waiver. the First Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the breach of  contract claims.500 employees which included the following:  It is with sincere regret that I must inform you of the termination of Alan Noonan’s  employment with Staples.    On appeal. App. It is  incumbent on all managers to understand Staples['s] policies and to consistently  communicate. But that brief simply  acknowledged that the statute was not constitutional as applied to a matter of public  concern. Staples did not timely argue that the present matter was a matter of public  concern or that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to matters of private  concern.3d 4 (1st Cir. a former Staples employee.    Alan Noonan. and (3) breach of the severance agreement. 556 F. 231. the approver’s responsibility to monitor and question is a critical  factor in effective management of this and all policies. educate and monitor compliance every single day.” rather than Sullivan’s knowing or reckless disregard for the  truth.3d 20. which states that truth is a defense  to libel unless "actual malice is proved.   . 561 F. (2) breach of the  two stock‐option agreements. and the district court entered judgment for Staples on all three claims. Staples. our policies are  consistently applied to everyone and compliance is mandatory on everyone’s part. The court based its decision on a  1902 Massachusetts statute. but remanded Noonan’s libel claim for trial. Staples I. The First Circuit  denied Staples' petition. despite the fact that Noonan admitted to pre‐ populating his reports in violation of company policy. A thorough investigation determined that Alan was not in  compliance with our [travel and expenses] policies. holding that Staples had waived the constitutional issue:   Staples now contends that it raised the issue in its initial brief. § 92.Noonan v. 23‐24. Laws ch. The issue is waived.  Noonan v. at 23. Staples Executive Vice‐President Jay Baitler sent a  memorandum to about 1.”  Id. The following day. Mass. asserting that the statute ran afoul of the  First Amendment by holding parties liable for making truthful statements."  The court interpreted “actual malice” to mean  common law malice of “ill will. 44(b). alleging three causes of action:  “(1) libel based on the Baitler e‐mail.

  publisher of the Hammond Action News blog. 15. Louisiana. No.."  Id.  Mar. After trial. Greenmoss  Builders2 ‐‐ to suggest that speech on matters of private concern does not enjoy full First  Amendment protection.  The court appeared to discount this possibility.3d 4. As part of its marketing policy. Defendant Cisco  Systems operates a program to grant individuals certification (such as “Cisco Certified Network  Professional”) if they pass a Cisco‐administered test. a wildlife preserve in Folsom.    Global Wildlife Center. Hammond Action News publishes Onion‐style fake news stories  about regional happenings in the Hammond area northwest of New Orleans. District Judge  Beth Wolfe dissolved the temporary restraining order and denied the request for a preliminary  injunction. Mar. 2010‐0000866 (La.   475 U.S. After a subsequent hearing on Global Wildlife  Center’s motion for a preliminary injunction. sued Nicholas Brilleaux.    Cisco’s attorneys sent a cease‐and‐desist letter to plaintiff. 2009 WL 928077 (S."  Id.   Global Wildlife Foundation v.Y.      After remand.561 F.D. for which the ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief in  support of Brilleaux. after he published a satirical article about a fake  giraffe attack at the preserve. No.  .. 2010. 6896. generally offering  greater incentives for customers that employ larger numbers of Cisco‐certified technicians. 767 (1986). Hepps1 and Dun & Bradstreet v.  The First Circuit  further pointed out that Staples "still does not cite a case for the proposition that the First  Amendment does not permit liability for true statements concerning matters of private  concern.  Twelve Inches Around Corp.    Plaintiff is the operator of a website that seeks to temporarily match (or “rent”)  information technology specialists with companies in need of their expertise. at 6. 12. Dist. Cisco offers  certain incentives to customers that employ staff holding Cisco certifications. the jury found in  favor of Staples on Noonan's defamation claim. The court also ordered Global Wildlife to pay Brilleaux $500 in attorneys' fees and  court costs. Louisiana granted Global Wildlife Center a temporary restraining order requiring  Brilleaux to remove the story from his blog. Ct.N. 2010). relying on language from two  Supreme Court cases ‐‐ Philadelphia Newspapers v. Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks of the 21st Judicial District Court in  Amite. at 6.  The court also indicated that the constitutional issue was not "so clear that the  panel should have acted sua sponte to strike down a state statute.S. arguing that the First Amendment protects his satirical work. asserting that the website  infringed Cisco's trademarks. v.     On March 2. 2009). Inc. 749 (1985). 08 Civ. Brilleaux. and that the program of “renting” Cisco‐certified technicians in                                                                1 2  472 U. the case proceeded to a jury trial in Boston. Cisco Sys.

 at *4. which operates a real estate. Tex. alleging that plaintiff was “committing fraud by brokering  individuals who [have Cisco certifications] to third‐party companies.A. Orix Capital Markets.S. No. and tortious interference. Orix subsequently amended its counterclaim to add a claim for  copyright infringement arising from the re‐posting of a page from the Orix website. in contravention of Cisco  certification and partnership agreements” and including eight paragraphs “under penalty of  perjury” purporting to identify the specific trademark registrations allegedly infringed. the website included  allegations that the company committed tax fraud and was under federal investigation for  violating racketeering laws. Inc. all of the statements made above are true and  correct.  R.  finance. 12. but allowed Orix’s counterclaim to proceed.” a “lawyer's statements are not immune from the libel  laws” and that “a reasonable reader encountering the full context of the letter. Orix. and violations of  the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).”  2009 WL 928077. Inc. breach of fiduciary duties.  Super Future Equities. in particular the  affirmation made ‘under penalty of perjury’ and the format of the letter resembling an affidavit  could reasonably believe that the statements are fact not opinion.D. so the companies can  attain higher partnership levels and corresponding product discounts. The court refused to dismiss plaintiff’s claim for libel.  While defendants had sought dismissal of the libel claims on the grounds that the lawyer’s  letter was a non‐actionable opinion. 2009). unfair business  practices. 3‐06‐CV‐0271B (N. Wells Fargo Bank Minnesota.     The underlying facts of the case are a bit convoluted. The court dismissed plaintiff’s DMCA. Super Future Equities.. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Fed. foreclosed on a Louisiana apartment building owned  by the Rafizadeh family of Houston. According to the counterclaim. N. fraud. when the Rafizadehs'  company. 12(b)(6).com ‐‐ that published false and  defamatory statements about Orix.  Feb. negligence. the court held that while “[a] letter from a lawyer can be a  non‐actionable statement of opinion.”  Id. asserting claims for misrepresentation under 17  U. fraud. Plaintiff’s ISP subsequently took down the website.. LLC filed a counterclaim against the  plaintiffs alleging that they set up a website ‐‐ www. Civ. and asset management business. § 512 (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA).  repeating the trademark infringement and fraud allegations stated earlier in the letter. however.order for companies to attain Cisco discounts was fraudulent.predatorix. This foreclosure triggered a series of legal disputes  between the Rafizadehs and Orix.     As part of an ongoing lawsuit. brought a class action complaint against Orix and other  defendants alleging breach of contract. and  tortious interference claims. The federal court in  Texas ultimately dismissed these claims.   . Cisco’s attorney also sent a letter  to plaintiff’s internet service provider.       Plaintiff sued Cisco and its attorneys. v. P. unfair business practices. and the Texas case began in 2006. and  affirming that “[t]o the best of my knowledge. at *1‐2.C. libel.

 but found that the defamation claim was sufficient to  go to the jury. after a two‐week trial. the jury awarded Orix $2. After the verdict. acknowledging that the previous postings were incorrect.  The counterclaim‐defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The court dismissed Orix's claims for business  disparagement.    . and copyright infringement (notably.     In February 2009. which the court  granted in part and denied in part.5 million in  compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. tortious interference. the court found that  the use of the Orix’s page was fair use). the parties  settled the case on undisclosed terms and the counterclaim‐defendants published an apology  on the website.

 or receiving a steady stream of freebies. call for  online publishers to disclose "material connections" they have with a company whose products  or services they "endorse. The Guidelines also say that  bloggers may be held liable for making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about a product or  service. the  Guidelines are easy to comply with.    The Guidelines impact a relatively narrow category of online publishing activities that can be  construed as "endorsements."  Guides. or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser. the Guidelines could impact your work. Finally. the Guidelines probably won't come into play much. .    Not all online discussion of product attributes or consumer experiences will qualify as an  "endorsement.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. the relationship between the advertiser and the  speaker is such that the speaker's statement can be considered 'sponsored' by the advertiser  and therefore an 'advertising message. which officially went into effect on December 1. viewed objectively. § 255.0(b). at 8. participating in a  network marketing program.    1    .    Bloggers and users of social media only need to disclose their relationship with a company  when they "endorse" a product of service." This means that bloggers and social media users must disclose their  relationship with a company when they are being paid or otherwise compensated by the  company to comment favorably on its products or services. 2009. findings." like writing reviews or otherwise commenting favorably on  products or services. and they require nothing more than upholding good  journalistic standards and prinicples. namely independence and transparency. and  you should have a sense of what constitutes an "endorsement. putting aside a few gray areas. the Guidelines require disclosure of  only relatively established relationships with companies—like getting paid. the Federal Trade Commission issued "Guides Concerning the Use of  Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" (the "Guidelines") that may impose a disclosure  requirement on bloggers and social media users who review or otherwise write about products  and services. beliefs. On top of that. Accordingly. ."    An "endorsement" is "any advertising message . The Guidelines.  even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser. But if you publish reviews or  otherwise regularly discuss products and services. for the vast majority of online  publishers." The FTC explains in its commentary on the Guidelines: "the fundamental  question is whether. that consumers are likely to believe reflects  the opinions. the FTC  staff have made numerous public statements indicating that they are more interested in  educating than suing bloggers.'" Federal Register Notice. Have You?  LEGAL TOPICS IN ADVERTISING LAW FOR ONLINE PUBLISHERS  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN FTC‐REQUIRED DISCLOSURES OF ENDORSEMENTS AND  TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING    In October 2009. And.

 the FTC decided not to take any action against An  Taylor. at 9. 2010 preview was the first (and. Have You?  The FTC will look at the following factors to determine whether a message conveying positive  statements about a product or service is an "endorsement":    • whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent.    Invitations to the event promised a “special gift” to bloggers who attend and “those who post  coverage from the event will be entered in a mystery gift card drawing where you can win up to  $500 at LOFT!”     The FTC guidelines require bloggers (and those who post on other social media. to date.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Some of the bloggers disclosed the gifts while others didn’t comment on  the issue or stated that they did not receive the gifts.  • the previous receipt of products or services from the same or similar advertisers.  • whether the product or service in question was provided by free by the advertiser. That's a lot of factors. the FTC  stated that    Upon careful review of this matter. We considered a number of factors in reaching this decision.  • the length of the relationship.. Third. the bloggers who received the gift cards and wrote about the event were obliged to  disclose the freebies. the January 26. only) such  preview event. the Federal Trade Commission notified Ann Taylor that it had completed its  first investigation under the .     FTC Investigation of Ann Taylor LOFT Event for Bloggers    On April 20. and several of those bloggers disclosed that LOFT had provided them gifts at  the preview. Second. we have determined not to recommend enforcement  action at this time. LOFT adopted a written policy in February 2010 stating that LOFT will  not issue any gift to any blogger without first telling the blogger that the blogger must  2    . such as Twitter  and Facebook) who receive free or discounted product or service in exchange for writing a  review to disclose the freebie or face the possibility of an FTC enforcement action. only a very small number of bloggers posted content about the  preview.    Federal Register Notice. and  • the value of the items or services received. and those receiving a steady  stream of products from a company or group of companies. but most of the FTC's examples in the  Guidelines and its public statements suggest that it is primarily concerned with those getting  paid in cash.  according to LOFT. First. those participating in network marketing programs.    In a letter to LOFT’s attorney announcing that it was taking no action in the matter. whose LOFT division offered gifts to bloggers who attended a January 26 “exclusive  blogger preview” of the chain’s summer 2010 line. or the  likelihood of future receipt of such products or services..  • the terms of any agreement. Under these  guidelines. In the end. 2010.

 how the information collected is being  protected. how many bloggers actually  saw that sign.  ."    While the FTC took no action against LOFT or the bloggers who covered the event. such as the Electronic  Communications Privacy Act apply to online advertising providers that collect information  through monitoring clicks.  The FTC staff expects that LOFT will both honor that  written policy and take reasonable steps to monitor bloggers' compliance with the  obligation to disclose gifts they receive from LOFT. this means  that it is important to be familiar with the rules and to be careful to disclose any product or  service. It is likely that in many cases these  laws could be held to apply to such activities and that consent is required from one of the  parties to the communication. search terms or other methods. including discounts.       INTERSECTION OF ADVERTISING AND PRIVACY LAW    Introduction to Behavioral Advertising    As a source of revenue.  For those who post on blogs and other social media. technology enables advertisers to target directly individual users  based on their web surfing activity. Have You?    The FTC letter also noted that LOFT posted a sign at the preview telling bloggers that they  should disclose the gifts. It is often unclear whether current laws. websites including those operated by news organizations have placed  advertisements on their sites. however. and whether current laws are being violated if data are being collected without the  consent of the parties involved.    In online advertising’s simplest form.    There are no current federal regulations specific to online behavioral advertising and the  Federal Trade Commission maintains that industry self‐regulation is preferable to agency  regulations because the state of the industry is fluid and complex. but noted that "[i]t is not clear. all users  3    disclose the gift in his or her blog. a commercial website rents out “space” on its site to  another website which places a hot link banner advertisement in that space. This practice is known as “behavioral” advertising. In this simplest scenario. the  banner ad sends the user directly to the advertiser’s website. Industry groups have  developed more detailed guidance and in 2009. they receive in return for writing about that product or service. When clicked. it is clear  that the Commission is keeping an eye out for blatant offers to bloggers and other social media  posters in return for coverage. Since advertisers are willing to pay a premium for greater  assurance that ad placements will be seen by users that are most likely to be interested in the  product or service offered.    This individual behavioral advertising has raised a number of privacy concerns: whether  personally identifiable information is being collected. the FTC released a set of self‐regulatory  principles regarding the information that may be collected online and how companies should  notify their customers about the collection.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.

 Advertisers may also acquire information. Because the advertisers record that a particular user requested information  a website by clicking on a particular link or sent information to a website.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. it is illegal. electromagnetic. for any person to “intentionally intercept.” where “intercept” can mean the acquisition of the contents of any electronic  communication through the use of any electronic. or meaning of that  communication. “contents”  includes any information concerning the substance.C. or photo optical system that affects interstate or  foreign commerce. advertisers appear to  be “intercepting” the “contents” of those “electronic communications” and such interceptions  are likely covered by ECPA. Have You?  will see the same advertisement. with certain enumerated  exceptions. mechanical. In most cases. oral or electronic  communication. online advertising providers such as DoubleClick and NebuAd  monitor Internet use by placing a “persistent cookie” on the user’s computer. writing. radio. such as words entered into a search engine or  answers to online forms. signals. offered. any wire.    The interception of electronic communications is not prohibited by ECPA if one of the parties to  the communications has consented to the interception. websites.S. The ECPA prohibits electronic communications service providers  from intentionally divulging information while in transit to third parties. or procure any  other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept. endeavor to intercept.  1848. These cookies are  small text files that reside on a hard drive indefinitely and once the cookie is in place. and “electronic communication” includes any transfer of signs. and they are acquiring that information while the communication is in  transit. Since advertisers will pay a premium for the increased likelihood that users  viewing their advertisement would be interested in the product or service.     Online advertising providers are acquiring information such as the fact that a user clicked on a  particular link (an action which is the equivalent of asking the site providing the link to send the  user information). photoelectronic. it gathers  certain information related to that user’s online activity on a continuous basis and relays that  information to the online advertising provider who can use assemble that data into an  individual profile used to target advertising. sounds. while it is in transit. 2510‐2521. unless an exception  applies. Under ECPA. Consent is not defined by ECPA. data or other intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a  wire. advertisers  use technology to more accurately target online ads to the desired audience.  images. and Internet service  providers (ISPs) that agree to collect certain data generated by Internet traffic to behaviorally  target advertising may be violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) 100 Stat. 18 U. regardless of whether the user may be interested in that  product or service. purport. nor do  precise instructions of how and when consent may be obtained under ECPA appear in  4    .    These techniques to target ads to individual Internet users is known as “behaviorally targeted  advertising” by tracking web activity of each user and inferring each user’s interests based on  that activity.     Electronic Communications Privacy Act    Concerns have been raised that online advertising providers. or other device.

 According to the court.    In a similar suit against online advertising provider Pharmatrak. but may have  lacked the requisite intent to be found liable under the statute.     Agreements for online advertising providers to monitor certain web traffic may be between the  online advertising provider and the website operators seeking to have ads placed on their sites.  and the parties in this case had not consented to the collection of personally identifiable  information.    The court also held that the website operators had consented. the online advertising  provider did collect a small amount of personally identifiable information though it had pledged  not to do so. therefore. and sending the packets over the Internet. In collecting personally identifiable information by intercepting data without the  consent of one of the parties. Consent for private interceptions of electronic  communications cannot be granted if the purpose of the interception is the commission of  criminal or tortious conduct. therefore. by virtue of their contract with  DoubleClick.    5    . the online advertiser potentially had violated ECPA. Pharmatrak had  contracted with certain drug companies to provide advertising on their websites. In that case. Because  websites are “users” of electronic communications. the court examined whether websites were “users” of  electronic communications services under ECPA. breaking the  document down into TCP/IP protocol. to allow the company to intercept certain traffic on their websites in order to  target advertising to website visitors. “parties to the communications”  at issue) because they actively respond to requests they receive over electronic  communications services by deciding whether to send the requested document.    The court reasoned that websites are “users” (and. the court outlined limitations to  the consent exception regarding these types of agreements. The  court disagreed. the court found that websites are also  “parties to the communications” in dispute. Have You?  regulation. website owners have the ability to  consent to a communication’s interception. Perhaps inadvertently. The court noted that the focus of the determination of criminal or  tortious purpose under ECPA is “not upon whether the interception itself violated another law. There have been few cases dealing with ECPA’s application to online advertising  providers and non examining ECPA’s application to agreements between ISP providers and  online advertising providers. The appeals court directed the  trial court to conduct further investigation into the matter.” Applying that standard.  The advertising providers receive information about user activity on participating websites and  aggregate that data to better target ads. the court found that the plaintiffs had not alleged that  DoubleClick’s primary motivation for intercepting communications was to injure plaintiffs  tortiously. The advertiser argued that consent had been granted for such interception. Included in  the agreement was permission for the advertising provider to record certain web traffic that did  not include personally identifiable information.  it is upon whether the purpose for the interception—its intended use—was criminal or  tortious.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. In litigation against the online advertising provider  DoubleClick for violations of ECPA. it is for the party granting consent to define its scope.

 are whether consent must be “affirmative.  interception can never begin. “Opt‐out” consent. If the individual never responds. the advertising providers will not be seen as running afoul  of ECPA so long as the data the advertising providers collect do not fall outside the scope of the  data the advertising providers’ clients have agreed to disclose. Have You?  Given the conclusions in the above cases.    Consent to interceptions has been implied by the surrounding circumstances of  communications.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. This question has yet to be  addressed by a federal court or clarified by legislation or regulation. it may not be “casually inferred. it appears that online advertising providers. it would appear that consent for the  interceptions must be obtained from individual customers of the ISPs. regulatory regimes have  developed to define when and how affirmative consent should be obtained.  however.” It seems  unlikely. “Opt‐in” consent is obtained when a party to the  communication is notified that his or her ISP has agreed to allow an online advertiser to track  that person’s online activity in order to better target advertising to that person. in these  circumstances. interception will begin.    Federal Trade Commission Online Advertising Self‐Regulatory Principles    6    . A similar debate is  occurring now involving how ISPs should obtain consent from their customers to share data  about their online activities with online advertising providers. Based on these cases.    In other statutes requiring consent for certain types of disclosure. is obtained when a party to the  communication is notified that his or her ISP has agreed to allow an online advertiser to track  that person’s online activity and the advertising provider will begin such tracking unless the  individual notifies the ISP or the advertiser that he or she does not grant permission for such  activity. The questions. as a result. Currently. then a form  of affirmative consent from the ISP’s customer would be necessary.    On the other hand. If the individual never responds. may not begin to track that individual’s web activity until the individual responds to  the notification granting permission for such activity. like  DoubleClick. The present question is whether “opt out”  consent is sufficient to satisfy the ECPA consent requirement. Therefore. neither of the parties to the agreement to intercept web traffic is a party to the  communications that are being intercepted. a customer of that service has implied  her consent to the interception of her electronic communications by online advertising  providers. The debate centers around  whether ISPs and advertisers must obtain “opt‐in” consent or if they may continue to obtain  “opt‐out” consent for these interceptions. The advertiser. that merely by using an ISP’s service. by contrast.” or if it can be “implied.” and if  consent must be “affirmative” what process must be used to obtain such consent from  individual users. it appears that  companies such as NebuAd are obtaining or planning to obtain “opt‐out” consent for the  information gathering they engage in with ISPs. that partner to collect data from individual websites generally are not violating  ECPA. because the websites are “parties to the communication” with the ability to consent to  interception. While consent may be implied. If consent likely may not be implied simply from use of an ISP’s service. when the partnership is between the ISP and the online advertising  provider.

    • The FTC’s principles cover only online behavioral advertising. which began with the release of proposed self  regulatory principles for public comment in December of 2007. it covers all commercial messages which  the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the  commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service. the FTC released a new set of Self Regulatory Principles for Online  Behavioral Advertising. Among other things. The main requirements for compliance are:    (1) Don’t use false or misleading header information  (2) Don’t use deceptive subject lines  7    .” including email  that promotes content on commercial websites. The  security measures should be concomitant with the sensitivity of the data (the more  sensitive the data. If the company  decides to use previously collected data for purposes that differ materially from the  uses the company described to the customer at the time data collection began. CAN‐SPAM doesn’t apply just to bulk email.” The  principles make clear that so‐called “first party” advertising (where no information is  shared with a third party) and contextual advertising (where the ad is based on a single  page visit or search) are not covered by the principles.000. Congress enacted the Controlling the Assault of Non‐Solicited Pornography and  Marketing (CAN‐SPAM) Act to curb spam and sets forth rules for commercial email. Have You?  In February of 2009. These principles represent the most recent step in the FTC’s ongoing  examination of behavioral advertising practices. The law makes no exception for business‐to‐ business email.      COMPLYING WITH MARKETING RESTRICTIONS AND CAN‐SPAM    In 2003.g. the more protected it should be). financial account information.  • Companies must keep the promises they make to their customers. commercial  messages and gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them along with penalties for  violations. as well as the opportunity for consumers to choose whether their data  may be collected for such purposes. The data should be retained only so  long as necessary to fulfill a legitimate business purpose or as required by law. Online behavioral  advertising means “the tracking of a consumer’s online activities over time.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.) for behavioral advertising only after  obtaining affirmative express consent from the consumer. websites engaged in online behavioral advertising should  provide clear notification to consumers regarding the types of data being collected on  the site and why. the  company should obtain the affirmative express consent of affected customers. the  finalized principles clarified the types of advertising to which they should be applied and  discussed what notification is sufficient for what types of data the site or advertiser is collecting  about a consumer.  • Companies collecting the data should provide reasonable security for the data. A brief sketch of the principles follows. medical  information.. Each separate email in violation of CAN‐SPAM is subject to penalties of up to  $16. so non‐compliance can be costly.  • According to the principles.  • Companies should collect sensitive data (e. etc. social security number.

    This rule makes it easier for one party to be responsible for complying with CAN‐SPAM’s opt‐ out requirements where multiple parties advertise in a single e‐mail message. The final rule established a presumption that marketers are allowed ten  business days to process an opt‐out request and within that period may continue to send  commercial electronic mail to someone who has opted out. Content is  considered commercial if it advertises or promotes a commercial product or service. then the term “sexually explicit” is  placed in a clear and conspicuous manner in the message. Have You?    CAN‐SPAM covers email where the primary purpose of the message is commercial. content is transactional if  it facilitates an already agreed‐upon transaction or updates a customer about an ongoing  transaction.” The statutory definition of  “sender” in 15 U.  (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) Identify the message as an ad  Tell recipients where you are located  Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you  Honor opt‐out requests promptly  Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. In contrast.    The final rule also narrowed the meaning of the term “sender.C.” Where a single email message contains advertisements for multiple entities. 2008.  8    . required return path and required  elements to include in a commercial email messages. including  content on a website operated for a commercial purpose.     On May 12. § 7702(16)(A) is “a person who initiates [a commercial electronic] mail  message and whose product. service or Internet website is advertised or promoted by the  message. and  (4) the “single sender” complies with the CAN‐SPAM’s prohibitions against deceptive  transmission information and deceptive subject lines.  (2) the “single sender” is identified in the “from” line of the email as the sole sender of the  message.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.  (3) if sexually oriented material appears in the message.S. the Federal Trade Commission issued final rules for complying with CAN‐ SPAM’s requirements. the rule  clarifies that there can be a “single sender” for compliance purposes if:    (1) the “single sender” falls within the statutory definition of “sender” set forth above.

    Disclosure of “Material Connections” Between Advertisers and Endorsers in Consumer‐ Generated Media    1    . a testimonial describing results that a consumer obtained using an  advertised product generally will be deemed to convey an “implied typicality” claim.    Elimination of “Results Not Typical” Safe Harbor     The revised Endorsement Guides eliminated a “safe harbor” that previously permitted  testimonials promoting extraordinary results obtained from using an advertiser’s product as  long as they were accompanied by a conspicuous “results not typical” disclaimer.   To varying degrees.. the ad must also disclose how much weight most women can expect to lose in the  depicted circumstances – e. the revised Endorsement Guides are advisory in nature and do not  operate with the force of law.  Like all FTC Guides.  Under the  new Endorsement Guides.  2009.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. a disclaimer stating that the endorser’s “results are not typical” is no longer sufficient  to avoid deception.  Nonetheless. and celebrities who endorse products on talk  shows or other “unconventional” advertising formats.g. endorsers who use blogs. the Endorsement Guides also influence courts and state attorneys general  when they interpret parallel state consumer protection statutes. if an ad features “before” and “after”  pictures of a woman who claims to have lost 50 pounds in 6 months using the advertiser’s diet  plan.  Accordingly.”  The “generally expected results” disclosure must be substantiated by data obtained  from valid. counselors for  advertisers and endorsers should take note of several important changes to the Endorsement  Guides. most of which involve testimonials that publicize extraordinary results achieved by  using an advertiser’s product. they articulate standards that the FTC Staff will use  to evaluate whether advertising practices are deceptive in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.  According to the revised Endorsement  Guides. well‐controlled clinical studies or other objectively reasonable evidence.  For example. if the endorser’s experience with the advertiser’s product or  service is non‐typical. “most women who follow our plan for 6 months lost at least 15  pounds.  Instead. Have You?    ADVERTISING LAW FOR ONLINE PUBLISHERS    FTC ISSUES FINAL GUIDES ON THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND   TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING  SCOTT DAILARD  DOW LOHNES  The Federal Trade Commission’s revised Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements  and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Endorsement Guides”) went into effect on December 1.  In other  words. the testimonial advertisement must also disclose the results that  consumers can generally expect to achieve.  The following summarizes the key  provisions of the revised Endorsement Guides. the FTC will interpret the testimonial as a claim that the endorser’s experience  represents the results that consumers can generally expect to achieve when using the  advertised product in the depicted circumstances. social networking sites or other  “consumer‐generated media” to publish reviews.

 reviewers who receive free products from an advertiser and then blog  about their opinions on a social media site should disclose their relationship to the advertiser if:  (i) the product or service has substantial value. the books they review. for example.  The  revised Endorsement Guides generally do not require disclosures from reviewers working for  traditional media companies because the FTC reasons that consumers generally expect that  professional critics may have received.” it would not consider  reviews published by traditional media outlets “with independent editorial responsibility” to be  sponsored advertisements because the weight that consumers give to statements that appear  in such reviews would not be affected by knowing whether the media publisher paid for the  product in question. for free. under the revised  Endorsement Guides.   Accordingly. the FTC reasons that it is much more  difficult for consumers to distinguish independent editorial opinion from endorsements that  have been procured (directly or indirectly) by an advertiser.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. and they discuss various circumstances in which messages conveyed by  bloggers and users of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will be regulated as  commercial endorsements. and whether the connection between the marketer and the reviewer would be  reasonably expected by consumers.       By contrast. the FTC distinguishes between critics who work for traditional media outlets and  consumer endorsers who receive free products as incentives to publish favorable reviews. or (iii) the reviewer frequently receives free  products and services from the advertiser (or similar advertisers) because he or she has an  established blog readership within a particular field or demographic.        According to the FTC. or (ii) the product or service is provided to the  consumer as part of a network marketing program. the  relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can  be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and therefore an “advertising message. The revised Endorsement Guides expressly extend this  principle to relationships that arise when advertisers use “consumer‐generated media” to  promote their products. when reviews appear in social media. Have You?  The FTC has long required testimonial advertisements to disclose any “material  connections” between an advertiser and an endorser – typically the provision of free products  or monetary compensation in exchange for a product review – if consumers would not  otherwise expect the connection. or saw the movies  they critique.  The FTC also stated that in “usual circumstances.  (The  same is true if the blogger is paid by a third party – such as the operator of a word‐of‐mouth  marketing network – acting on behalf of an advertiser). the FTC will  evaluate the need for a disclosure on a case‐by‐case basis using a test that focuses on whether  the receipt of the merchandise could affect the weight or credibility of the reviewer’s  statements. the review clearly will be considered an endorsement. viewed objectively.  In these situations.   The reviewer’s obligations are more  difficult to determine if the only incentive he or she receives is the value of a free product  sample that accompanies a marketer’s request for a review. the fundamental question is whether.   2    .  and the reviewer will be required to disclose his or her relationship with the advertiser.”  In this  context.    If an advertiser pays someone to blog about a product or service or tout its attributes on  a message board or a social media site.

  As a general rule.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.. the blogger or word‐ of‐mouth marketer) can be subject to liability for false or deceptive statements made in the  testimonial.  In such non‐traditional advertising contexts. advertisers that provide free products to  consumer endorsers should establish procedures to advise endorsers of their disclosure  obligations. both the advertiser and the endorser (e.    The FTC’s approach to endorsements in consumer‐generated media provoked heated  commentary in both the blogosphere and the traditional press. because consumers might not otherwise realize  that the celebrity is a paid endorser. however.     The FTC will assign liability in the celebrity endorsement context in the same way it does  in the consumer‐generated media context. it will  consider an advertiser’s efforts to advise endorsers of their responsibilities and to monitor their  reviews for inaccurate statements. “and we have enough respect  for advertising on the Internet and the important role of the blogosphere as a marketplace for  public opinion to hold it to the same standard we apply to advertising in any other medium. the  endorser’s statements before they are published will not protect the advertiser from liability. statements made by celebrities in social media. or of holding individuals to a stricter standard than large corporations.  Accordingly. need not disclose that he is being paid by the advertiser. or control over.  Instead.g. monitor their reviews and  document the advertiser’s efforts to promptly identify and correct any exaggerated or  unsubstantiated representations. responded to these charges by noting  that more robust disclosure requirements are necessary to avoid deception in contexts that  blur the line between advertising and editorial content. such as a television  commercial.  Mary Engle.”   Engle also made it clear that the FTC does not plan to make individual bloggers an enforcement  priority. Have You?  If a material connection exists. however.  3    . or  during news interviews.   The FTC stated.  Both the celebrity endorser and the advertiser can  be liable for the endorser’s false or unsubstantiated statements about the endorsed product.   Although the advertiser cannot control what a celebrity endorser actually says on a talk show. a  celebrity endorser who appears in a “traditional” advertisement. because consumers  typically assume that celebrities are compensated for their appearances in ads. the celebrity must  disclose his or her connection to an advertiser.”      Celebrity Endorsements     The revised Endorsement Guides clarify that celebrities who are paid to endorse an  advertiser’s products have a duty to disclose their relationship with the advertiser if the  endorsement is made outside of a conventional advertising context.  Director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices. she stated that the FTC’s principal “concern is with advertisers who pay  consumers to talk up their products and make it look like independent consumer opinion. provide them with accurate product information.  The fact that an advertiser may have no knowledge of.  Engle also emphasized that the  Endorsement Guides hold social media marketers to the same standards as marketers who use  other media: “Social media marketing is here to stay. rather than just a satisfied customer. that in deciding whether to bring an enforcement action.  Critics of the revised  Endorsement Guides accused the FTC of holding new media to a different standard than old  media.  The same is not  true. of talk show appearances.” she said.

   In deciding  whether to bring an action.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. however. and about the need to disclose the celebrity’s relationship with the advertiser. Have You?  or how the show is edited. it may nonetheless be held liable if the endorser fails to make the  required disclosure or makes false statements about the advertiser’s product. the FTC says it will give significant weight to whether an  advertiser advised the celebrity in advance about what he or she can and cannot truthfully say  about a product.             4    .

Munford Phelps Dunbar LLP Jackson.12. 28.05 Affiliate marketing. E-Commerce §§ 9. sweepstakes and promotions. E-Commerce §§ 29. Field Guide Ch. 2 Content co-branding. Field Guide Ch.06[A][2]. E-Commerce §§ 9. Commerce § 2.13 Contests. clickwrap agreements.04. Internet §14. 8.07 Behavioral advertising. Winn and Benjamin Wright.05 Push distribution.08 Sales taxation of electronic marketing. Site traffic metrics. Law of Electronic Commerce (2010) (“Commerce”) Lingo: CAN-SPAM Act. 9. Internet §§9.05. E-Commerce §28. Internet § 14.05 Linking or framing. PD.1 . Commerce §2. Matsura. 20.05 Viral or “Buzz” Marketing. metatags. 2010 References: Ian Ballon.16 Lanham Act and State law false advertising. adware. E-Commerce §28. Internet §15.Some Online Advertising Law Lingo By Luther T. Field Guide Ch. spyware. Delta and Jeffrey H. E-Commerce § 2. Internet §14. Mississippi Sept. E-Commerce §28.10[A]. 11. Internet § 14.06.29. E-Commerce §28. Internet Law: A Field Guide (6th ed.11.05.03. E-Commerce §28.09.03. 28. 14.04. 2008) (“Field Guide”) Jan R. Internet §14. E-Commerce §28.05.05[E] Click fraud.06. E-Commerce and Internet Law (2010) (“E-Commerce”) George B. 2 Keyword advertising. E-Commerce §20.11. Law of the Internet (2010) (“Internet”) John Hart. Field Guide Ch.10.06.4144902.03 . cookies. Internet §14. 25.

1 . Internet §§14. 14.02 -2PD.05.06 Best Practices Guidelines for Legal Information Web Site Providers.Online commercial communities.4144902. Commerce §4.

 intrusion. Pierce. when combined with surreptitious recording at a private location. when an adult answers the front door. the failure to obtain  consent. at the time of the  alleged intrusion. where the intrusion is highly offensive or objectionable to a  reasonable person.  Potential liability  for intrusion may therefore place some limits how far journalists go in reporting a story or  attempting to interview a source.  NEWSGATHERING LAW: HOW TO STAY OUT OF TROUBLE WHEN YOU’RE GATHERING  INFORMATION FOR A STORY    CHARLES COBLE  Brooks. may expose  reporters to liability.  Unlawful intrusion is:  An intentional physical or sensory interference with. North Carolina 27601  T: (919) 839‐0300  F: (919) 839‐0304  E: ccoble@brookspierce.    For example.    A person may not maintain an intrusion claim if he or she consents.  During  the interview. public disclosure of private facts. recorded or videotaped. consider a reporter who arrives at the subject’s house with no prior notice. peering through windows or doors and persistent telephoning. a person’s solitude or  seclusion or his private affairs. and misappropriation). the great majority of  States have adopted the claim of invasion of privacy by    When Does an Interview Constitute Intrusion?    Although not all States recognize each of the four claims for invasion of privacy (false  light. the reporter wears a hidden microphone in his necktie. to being photographed. the reporter begins asking him questions.  Thus.  and. McLendon.    Examples of conduct that courts have found constituted unlawful intrusion include  physically invading a person’s home or private place. or prying into. Humphrey & Leonard LLP  1600 Wachovia Capitol Center  150 Fayetteville Street  Raleigh. while a cameraman and  sound technician hide in a van across the street. eavesdropping by wiretapping or  microphone.  On these  1    .  The subject had not agreed to be interviewed  in advance and at no time during the interview did he consent to being recorded.

 in a case out of California a television film crew appeared  unannounced at the front door of a private residence. because of their young age. each of which involved a  similar set of facts.  As a result.  Branzburg actually decided three different cases. 665 (1972). 408 U.  For example. the subpoena was issued under federal law.  These permissible  restrictions may even extend beyond school grounds. however. lacked the capacity to consent to the news  crew’s presence on the private property.  such as from a United States Attorney or a federal grand jury or in a civil case pending in federal  court. therefore. the only option is to rely on  the muddled outcome of a 38‐year‐old United Supreme Court precedent.  Despite its age.  Two young children.  facts.  However.”  This designation means that the U.  In addition to being mindful of potential intrusion claims and issues of consent.  journalists and editors should also be aware that courts generally consider public school  property to be a “non‐public forum. so long are those  regulations are designed to lessen interference with normal school activities.  answered the door and purportedly consented to being interviewed after the news crew  informed them that their friends had just been murdered by their friends’ mother. a federal appeals court in California concluded that the subject could maintain an  intrusion claim. ages five and seven. the  value of this case to reporters remains uncertain.  The court  ruled that the children. or if the reporter works in a state that lacks a shield statute. and. Constitution will  permit reasonable local or state regulations that restrict media access to school property or  that otherwise restrict newsgathering activities on school property. did not consent to the subsequent  interview. the Court held 5‐4 that reporters served  with a grand jury subpoena in a criminal matter do not have a First Amendment privilege  against testifying.    Some States do not expressly require parental consent to interview a minor in a public  forum or to publish or air a minor’s image in connection with a news story.  If. a reporter in Kentucky had published an investigative  piece on the local drug trade in which he had personally observed people producing and using  2    .S.S. summary judgment on an intentional infliction of emotional distress  claim was denied.     The Difficulty of Protecting Confidential Sources in a Federal Proceeding: The David  Ashenfelter Saga    A reporter’s best bet to quash an otherwise valid subpoena to appear in a state‐court  proceeding is a state shield statute.  In one of the cases. Hayes. a reporter is not necessarily protected from  liability for intrusion.    In Branzburg v. a field trip or a graduation ceremony. so long as they apply to a school‐ sponsored activity such as a sporting event. even if a  minor consents to being interviewed at their home.

 like other citizens.  The other two cases involved reporters who had been covering the activities of  the Black Panther Party.  burden on news gathering that is said to result from insisting that reporters.  The balance of these vital  constitutional and societal interests on a case‐by‐case basis accords with the tried and  traditional way of adjudicating such questions.    Thus.  The question. he will  have access to the court on a motion to quash and an appropriate protective order may  be entered. writing for the majority. reporters remain regular citizens and must comply  with a legitimate subpoena just as any other citizen.    Justice Byron White. even though  Justice White perhaps did not intend recognize such protection.  Justice Powell made clear in  his opinion that despite the majority holding.    Justice Powell wrote a concurring opinion that reporters have used in both state and  federal courts to argue that the Constitution in fact gives qualified protection. White said:  [W]e perceive no basis for holding that the public interest in law enforcement and in ensuring  effective grand jury proceedings is insufficient to override the consequential.  In all three cases. but uncertain.  Indeed.    3    .  In the end. Justice  White said. is whether this potential burden on the rights of the press outweighs the legitimate  needs of law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute crimes. accepted the reporters’ argument that if  journalists are regularly forced to disclose the identity of their confidential sources.”  The critical passage  of his opinion reads as follows:    If a newsman believes that the grand jury investigation is not being conducted in good  faith he is not without remedy. if the newsman is called upon to give  information bearing only a remote and tenuous relationship to the subject of the  investigation.  respond to relevant questions put to them in the course of a valid grand jury investigation or  criminal trial. those  sources will soon dry up and the reporters will be unable to do their job. or if he has some other reason to believe that his testimony implicates  confidential source relationship without a legitimate need of law enforcement. law enforcement officials do not have a carte  blanche “to annex the news media as an investigative arm of government.  The asserted claim to privilege should be judged on its facts by the striking  of a proper balance between freedom of the press and the obligation of all citizens to  give relevant testimony with respect to criminal conduct.  illegal drugs. according to Justice White. local law enforcement officials who were pursuing  criminal investigations sought to compel the reporters to reveal their confidential sources to a  grand jury.

  (2) They must demonstrate that it is reasonable to think the  witness in question has that information. (1) demonstrate that the information sought is clearly relevant to a precisely defined  subject of governmental inquiry.  Branzburg is therefore often described as a “4‐1‐4” case.  These decisions were upheld on appeal. the First  Amendment demanded greater scrutiny of government attempts to compel reporters’  testimony. thereby giving them some protection from  compelled disclosure of confidential (and in some cases non‐confidential) sources and source  material.  The Reporters Committee has cataloged recent federal subpoenas that  gave rise to court challenges.  In addition. however.  The lesson of these cases is that a reporter cannot count on  protection—even qualified protection—from a federal subpoena that seeks the identity of a  confidential source or other source materials. federal district court judges ordered reporters  to disclose confidential sources relating to the Valerie Plame leak investigation and a civil  lawsuit brought by Wen Ho Lee.      This exposure reporters and their news organizations face in federal proceedings has  been highlighted by a saga involving Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter.  That  dispute arose in the context of a civil lawsuit brought by former federal prosecutor Richard  Convertino in federal court in the District of Columbia. an effort that has yet to achieve success.  This makes the passage of a federal shield law all  the more critical.  Justice Powell’s concurrence is  the “1” here. meaning that there were four votes  on either side of the issue. 2001.  Convertino led the prosecution of the  so‐called “Detroit Sleeper Cell” defendants shortly after September 11.    The form of that privilege—adopted by many state legislatures in shield laws—was  outlined in Justice Stewart’s dissent.  therefore. contrary to the majority opinion.    In recent years.  He wrote that. which calls into question just how much protection that case offers. it is the foundation of the long‐standing effort to have a federal shield  statute passed by Congress.  Justice Stewart outlined a three‐part analysis: Governmental officials must. a federal  district court in San Francisco ordered reporters to disclose their source in connection with the  BALCO investigation. several federal courts have refused to find a federal constitutional  privilege in Branzburg. and it is his call for a careful balancing by courts that would open the door in later  years to some courts finding a qualified privilege in Branzburg.  In addition. this three‐part showing forms the basis of many shield statutes  that provide a qualified privilege to reporters.  In  two high‐profile cases in the District of Columbia.  (3) And they must show that there is not any means  of obtaining the information less destructive of First Amendment liberties. with one vote straddling both sides.    In one form or another. the  4    .

 Convertino sought to depose Detroit Free Press reporter David  Ashenfelter.    Ashenfelter and the Detroit Free Press fought the subpoena in federal court in Michigan.    After some legal maneuvering.  Justice Department subsequently removed Convertino from his post and asked that the  convictions he obtained in that matter be dismissed.  The  presiding judge heard testimony from Ashenfelter ex parte and concluded that Ashenfelter’s  invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege was warranted.  The federal district court judge rejected these arguments.  Information from that source appeared in a January 2004 article that  Ashenfelter authored.  In connection  with the civil lawsuit.  The judge’s decision was hailed by free  speech advocacy groups.  The former prosecutor  then moved to hold Ashenfelter in contempt for refusing to answer questions about his  confidential source. he held that  Ashenfelter did not have to testify.    However. Ashenfelter invoked the Fifth  Amendment privilege against self‐incrimination.     5    . he sought from Ashenfelter the identity of a confidential source who  told the newspaper that Convertino was being investigated for misconduct in connection with a  terrorism prosecution.  In these papers Ashenfelter relied on traditional First Amendment  arguments. which was subsequently  reaffirmed on the newspaper’s request for reconsideration. a  reporter subpoenaed in a federal matter would not have to prevail on a Fifth Amendment (or  First Amendment) argument in order to protect his or her source. Convertino—who was himself  acquitted of charges that he conspired to conceal exculpatory evidence and lied to a federal  judge in connection with the prosecution—contends that the Department of Justice disclosed  information about him to the news media in violation of the federal Privacy Act.  In particular. and  ordered the deposition to move forward in this written decision. the issue finally culminated in another hearing.  He argued he feared prosecution because  Convertino’s attorney had made statements suggesting that Ashenfelter himself was criminally  culpable by withholding the identity of the person Convertino claimed had violated the federal  Privacy Act by revealing information to Ashenfelter about Convertino. rather than answer the questions he was asked. who used the episode to help build momentum for passage of a  federal shield law. discussed above.  moving to quash the subpoena and opposing Convertino’s motion to compel Ashenfelter to  comply with the subpoena.    In the complaint he filed in the pending civil action. and his source’s identity remained secret and Ashenfelter  was relieved of his obligation to sit for a deposition.  As a result.  If Congress were to pass a federal law akin to most state shield statutes.

” which offer varying degrees of protection to reporters from attempts by government  officials and others to compel reporters’ testimony.  Know Your State’s Shield Law    Thirty‐nine States have what have become known as “shield laws” or “reporter's shield  statutes. of course. editing. company. document. Ct. company. at least. engaged in the business of gathering.  We do not. although a trial court recently  refused to apply the shield law to a subpoena directed to a blog. photographing. go to the Reporters  Committee for Freedom of the Press web site.  A formulation such as North Carolina’s can raise  a host of questions. Superior  Court. know the limits of this definition. 139 Cal.    The key portion of the North Carolina statute reads:    A journalist has a qualified privilege against disclosure in any legal proceeding of any  confidential or nonconfidential information.  In O’Grady v. recording.    However. or item obtained or prepared  while acting as a journalist. independent contractors. or agents of  that person. 4th 1423 (Cal. the answer in California.  Is a blogger who posts in his free time—the modern  version of the lonely pamphleteer—a journalist under the North Carolina law?  North Carolina’s  appellate courts have not yet given guidance on this question. may be otherwise.  For example.  writing. App. 2006). or processing information for dissemination  via any news medium. and courts have tended to read it that way. the well‐publicized case involving allegations  by Apple Computer that a group of bloggers had misappropriated trade secrets. the court  6    . or entity.    For an invaluable compilation of shield laws around the country. a privilege that can be overcome if  the opposing party makes a sufficient showing.  however. compiling. or entity.    What is a journalist?    North Carolina’s shield law defines a journalist as:    Any person. App.    This is a rather broad definition. North Carolina has a shield  law that follows the majority approach around the country by offering journalists a qualified  privilege from disclosure of sources and source materials. or the employees.

    What is a news medium?    Under North Carolina’s shield law. the privilege can be overcome by the party seeking the information.  And.    When does it apply?    The privilege applies in “any legal proceeding”—both civil and criminal—and covers  “any confidential or nonconfidential information.   • Cannot be obtained from alternate sources.”  This  would seem at least to open the door to a non‐commercial blogger or some other non‐ mainstream form of journalism. or other electronic means accessible to the general public. and held simply that California’s  shield statute applied. when a journalist asserts the reporter’s privilege.  A trial court has  held that the qualified privilege extended to a copy of a radio broadcast of a news program. it is a “rare instance” in which  7    . this three‐part test  tends to be the legal battleground. because the law  also makes clear that there is no privilege against disclosure when the journalist obtained the  sought‐after information because of his or her own eyewitness observation.  declined to wade into the question of what a journalist is. a “news medium” is:    Any entity regularly engaged in the business of publication or distribution of news via  print. and   • Is essential to the maintenance of a claim or defense of the person on whose behalf the  testimony or production is sought. as one state court said.    In North Carolina. however.  The journalist  may be forced to testify or produce evidence if the party seeking disclosure can show that the  evidence or testimony sought:    • Is relevant and material to the proper administration of the legal proceeding for which  the testimony or production is sought.”  The phrase “as a journalist” is critical.  It is important to note that the law references “any entity. document. as  aired.    What does “qualified” mean?    Because the privilege afforded by North Carolina’s statute is qualified rather than  absolute.” not “any business. or item obtained or prepared  while acting as a journalist. broadcast.

 Young indicated.    A state shield statute is therefore a critical line of defense journalists can interpose in  response to a civil. Aug. if so. Super. 2001 WL 1692379 (N. 2001).  Higgins v. 2003).  This intrusion is especially offensive when the  same information could be derived from other sources. State v.  Another North Carolina state court elaborated:  Both the statutory privilege and the common law privilege are intended to protect the free flow  of information and avoid the impediment that occurs when reporters are subjected to in‐court  examination of their newsgathering activities. Young. criminal.. state shield statutes do not  represent the only form of protection reporters have—the reporter may argue for protection  by a constitutional privilege as well. Petersen.          8    .g.C. June 30.   There may be time limits under the state rules of civil procedure for interposing objections to  the subpoena and/or for filing a motion to quash. it is imperative that it pass the subpoena along to its counsel  so that he or she can determine whether there is a shield statute and.    As the court in Higgins v. Super.  In state‐court proceedings in states with shield laws. those  laws will likely provide the most robust protection from disclosure. 08.  See. e. 2003 WL  22965551 (N. or grand jury subpoena in a state‐court proceeding. whether it applies.C.  a party seeking disclosure can meet the requirements. however. but in states lacking shield  laws and in federal proceedings the constitutional privilege may well be the only basis for  opposing the subpoena.  As soon as a  newsroom receives a subpoena.

 it is important that a reporter  and the online publisher understand her rights ahead of time. In any case. Generally speaking. their right to access public places may be constrained by reasonable  time.     The U. a reporter may be asked to leave by law  enforcement or the owner of the property. In these situations. government‐owned) property. or by the government's interest in managing its property. or she may be  able to convince them to allow her to stay. it does not  grant it unfettered access to the property of others.e.    Here is an overview of the three types of public property most commonly encountered:    Property That Historically Has Been Open to the Public    1    . grants the right to  access public places to gather information.    This section covers access to public (i. In general:    • There is a right to access property that is open to the general public.    Even when with the right to access property. Constitution protects the right to speak and. or manner restrictions.  • There is no right to enter private property without the owner's permission. she should explain why she has  the right to stay. Generally speaking. The right to access public property is not absolute. Depending on the type of property  reporters wish to enter. place.  • Not all property owned by the government is accessible by the public. (Refer to the section on  Access to Private Property for more information on entering privately owned property. Online publishers (and their counsel)  should always keep in mind that the right of access is no greater than the public's right of  access.  however. If one of these figures asks a  reporter to leave when she believes she has a right to access. in some instances. however.S. she must take care – she can be charged  with trespass for remaining if she does not have a right to remain there.  TOPICS IN NEWSGATHERING LAW  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    ENTERING THE PROPERTY OF OTHERS TO REPORT ON A STORY    While the First Amendment protects an online publisher’s right to engage in speech.) Not all  government‐owned property is open to the general public. reporters have the same right of access to public property as the  general public. They may say that the current circumstances are an exception. government officials and persons in possession of private  property are the only figures who can restrict access to property.

 those rooms. particularly while the school is in  session.    However. during those times. the right to access the property for newsgathering purposes is similarly limited. These "school loitering laws" are mainly aimed at  keeping sexual predators and drug dealers away from schoolchildren. even though it is open only for limited purposes. will be treated as  public forums. if the school opens certain of its rooms for non‐ school meetings that are open to the public. some parts of a courthouse are open to the general public. can take on  the attributes of a public forum discussed above.    Property That Is Not Open To the Public    2    . and assembly. but they should do so without  disturbing the peace or interfering with those around them. Their right of access does not  confer immunity from all liability if their conduct is disruptive or harassing. some states laws prohibit people from loitering within a  certain distance while school is in session. parks. but be aware that their  language may be broad enough to cover lawful or innocent activity as well. then the quad may be  considered "dedicated" to public use. These areas are known as public  forums and include spaces such as sidewalks. Reporters may freely  enter and gather information while in these public spaces. A classic example of this type of property is  public schools and universities. and town squares.  The right to access public property is strongest when the area has historically been open to the  public for the exercise of speech. Although public school and university buildings are not wholly  open to the public.    Property That Is Open to the Public for a Limited Purpose    The right to access government‐owned property that is only partially open to the public is a bit  more limited.    Remember that because public schools are not entirely public forums. and therefore more like the traditional public forums of  the public park and sidewalk. For  example. Additionally. but portions of the  courtrooms themselves are accessible only by the parties in the litigation and judges' chambers  are completely off limits to the public. school administrators  often have the discretion to restrict the entry of outsiders. Check in with the school administration before entering school grounds or the reporter  may be liable for trespass. If a school's  large open quad is accessed from public sidewalks and streets and freely used by the general  public with no apparent objection from the school administration. some parts of a campus may be considered a public forum. some public property. If the general public is permitted to access only certain areas or for certain limited  purposes. Additionally. public debate.

 Marsh v.    In the 1940s.     Types of Private Property    Residences: The term "private property" encompasses a wide variety of places. Visitors seeking access to a private residential community must usually  announce themselves at the gate or receive permission from the development's security guards  3    . 171. 672 (1992). Although the company town was private property owned by the company. When the government leases a convention center. 505 U. See International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. while there are (rare) circumstances in which the law will condone A  reporter’s entry onto private property without permission. or theaters used for private commercial purposes  are not public forums. and if the reporter enters a private home  without permission.    Government‐owned civic centers. 326 U.  A reporter cannot access or gather information on government‐owned property that is not  open to the general public. The event  coordinators may even grant exclusive media coverage rights to a particular media outlet and  deny access to others who want to cover the event (or at least deny them access in their  capacities as journalists). However. the private lessee  may legally exclude individuals who want to report on newsworthy events. the Supreme Court took on the issue of "company towns" with regard to the First  Amendment."  United States v. Grace. This type of property is known as a nonpublic forum in which the  government can charge the reporter with trespass for entrance without authorization. there are fewer company towns. in certain cases. 501 (1946). The  following are examples of nonpublic forums:    An airport terminal is a nonpublic forum.  intentional infliction of emotional distress. 461 U.S. The Supreme Court has noted that airports are "among those publicly  owned facilities that could be closed to all except those who have legitimate business there. the  fact that it had been opened up to use by the public generally made it subject to the  constitutional requirements of the First Amendment.S.    Today. gated residential communities may  occupy a similar niche. Courts are highly unsympathetic to those who try to  gather news in private homes without consent. from  homes to businesses open to the public. stadiums. she may be liable for invasion of privacy. in general the reporter does not  have any right to enter the private property of others without their consent.S. Alabama.  Lee. private. trespass and. however.    A reporter may wish to access another's private property in order to gather information to  publish online. 178 (1983).

 and  service may be fine. provided the regulations are content‐neutral.     Businesses: If the reporter tries to access businesses that do not open themselves up to  the public.S.    If a reporter wants to go to a shopping mall and gather information. try to avoid disrupting  business activities. as a member of the public the  reporter will be able to access businesses open to the public without fear of liability. ambiance. However. and her  actions need to be within the scope of that use. In this scenario.  the law of access to shopping malls has largely been left to the states. State courts vary on the  question of whether to allow access to shopping malls. these establishments are privately owned places of  business. and  leave open sufficient alternative channels of communication. and she could be liable for trespass. or in the food court. 447 U. she cannot go to the kitchen without additional  permission. it would be better to approach people walking in the corridors  of the mall. These types of situations are called "media ride‐alongs"  4    . stating that there is no constitutional right to free speech in a private shopping mall.  74 (1980).  But even if the reporter does not have express permission. Those that do find them to be public or  quasi‐public forums still note that owners may impose reasonable time. a restaurant consents to a person’s presence for her to enjoy eating a lovely meal  in the company of good friends. But unlike the  traditional public forum of a town square. It's often a wise idea to seek permission before entering such a community. in nature. a reporter may be liable for trespass.  in order to enter. Continuing our  example. The  reporter’s right of access does not necessarily translate into a right to gather information while  she is there.    Entering Private Property While Accompanying Government Officials    A reporter may be invited by law enforcement or other government officials to accompany  them while they perform their duties. while she can enter a restaurant. The business has given her consent to use the premises as a patron. Note that  she may only access the areas of the business that are open to the public. taking notes about the food. narrowly tailored.    Shopping malls have come to occupy a place in modern communities akin to the town square  or main street and thus are arguably public. place and manner  restrictions on expression. Robins. Since the Supreme Court's decision in PruneYard Shopping Center v. For example. whereas approaching other diners for interviews or for photographs likely  oversteps the scope of the restaurant's consent. than to attempt to talk to everyone entering or exiting. rather than private. the right to access will be strongest  if the private residential community opens its gates to the public at large.    For example.

  • Let the school know ahead of time for access to the campus or to interview students. Depending on the forum or  event.  and can be a great way to gather information about how public officials handle their work.    Some suggestions to minimize the legal risks when entering the property of others include:    • When in doubt.   • Do not disturb the peace or harass people in order to get information when entering a  business open to the public. As a rule of thumb: if the  reporter is invited on a media ride‐along and enter private property.   • Do not make misrepresentations to gain access to public or private property. 526 U. she  should note that depending upon the circumstances.  However. ride‐alongs may take the reporter to events occurring on private property. 603  (1999).  and the like. her presence may jeopardize an  investigation.  • Make sure the use of the property is consistent with the right to be there. Do not be surprised if the local law enforcement agency prohibits media ride‐ alongs altogether. Government agencies sometimes require proof  that a requester is a professional journalist. Even if on public property. The issue is complex. The  Supreme Court has held that accompanying police in their execution of an arrest warrant in a  private home may make the reporter liable for trespass.  • Don't loiter around a schoolyard. See Wilson v. cooperate with authorities. get consent from the person in possession of the property before  entering. police. Additionally. the reporter should get  consent for her presence from the person in possession of the property. and emergency  personnel to be sure that the reporter is not interfering with rescue or other emergency  efforts. local police.  • It's generally a good idea to refrain from interfering with subjects or disturbing the  peace.    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has a terrific overview on how courts have  treated trespass issues in media ride‐alongs. or other government agency may have a  procedure for obtaining these passes. Get permission from school officials to be on the  premises.    5    . Layne.   • Obtain a press pass or media credentials when possible. assault. a reporter may face charges of harassment. but in some cases the reporter may be able  to qualify if she publishes a blog or website or by simply asserting that there is a public  interest in publishing information from the forum or event. most schools will not allow strangers to wander around without credentials.S. the owner of the property.  • When covering a breaking event.

 the most important question in the recording context is whether a  person making the recording must get consent from one or all of the parties to a phone call or  conversation before recording it. it is not always easy to tell which law applies to a communication. if you are not a party to the conversation. is often a helpful  way to capture and preserve information about conversations.    Unfortunately. Furthermore. interviews. but also potentially give an  injured party a civil claim for money damages against the person making the recording. and if state law applies which of the two (or more)  relevant state laws will control the situation. a "one‐ party consent" law will allow you to record the conversation or phone call so long as your  source consents and has full knowledge that the communication will be recorded. See 18 U.    RECORDING CONVERSATIONS    Using a recording device. this  means that only one party to the communication must consent. all parties will need  to consent. such as a microphone. and phone calls. or camera. Therefore. In others. These laws not only expose  the person making the recording to the risk of criminal prosecution. It is  also a good way to document what takes place in a court hearing or public meeting.C.     Who must give permission to record a telephone or in‐person conversation?    Federal law permits recording telephone calls and in‐person conversations with the consent of  at least one of the parties. Federal law and many state wiretapping statutes permit  recording if one party (including the person making the recording) to the phone call or  conversation consents. In some states.    6    . a good rule of thumb is to get the  consent of all parties. video recorder. then it is difficult to say in advance  whether federal or state law applies.    From a legal standpoint. you can record a phone call or conversation so long as you are  a party to the conversation.S. then you can rely with greater certainty on the law of that state. For example. Other states require that all parties to the communication consent.    Federal and state wiretapping laws may limit the ability to record telephone calls or in‐person  conversations (including by recording video that captures sound). This is called a "one‐party consent" law. when all parties in the recording are both located in the same  state.  Under a one‐party consent law. 2511(2)(d). if the parties are in different states. especially a  phone call. However. whether  for personal reference or later broadcast over the Internet.

  Pennsylvania and Washington. Massachusetts. Nevada.  consent must be obtained from every party to a phone call or conversation if it involves more  than two people. it is best to get consent from all parties to this kind of multi‐state  7    . New Hampshire. Florida.  Connecticut. Pay  attention to your state’s consent requirement – i. in a home. the consent of  one party is sufficient to make recording lawful. Montana. thirty‐eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted "one‐ party consent" laws and permit individuals to record phone calls and conversations to which  they are a party or when one party to the communication consents. Maryland. federal and many state  laws do not permit you to surreptitiously place a bug or recording device on a person or  telephone.     Practical Tips for Recording Phone Calls and Conversations    • Check the law of your state before recording a phone call or conversation. office or restaurant to secretly record a conversation between two  people who have not consented. These "two‐party consent" laws have been adopted in California.  • Play it safe and get consent to record from all the parties. To avoid legal  problems.e. Illinois. and could not naturally overhear.     When must you get permission from everyone involved before recording?    Twelve states require the consent of every party to a phone call or conversation in order to  make the recording lawful. In addition. Recording  phone calls and conversations without consent may expose you to criminal and civil  liability. whether one party’s consent is  sufficient to make recording lawful.     Can you record a phone call or conversation when YOU do not have consent from one  of the parties?    Regardless of whether state or federal law governs the situation. so you will want to be aware of what is permissible before taking action.  In addition to federal law. it is almost always illegal to  record a phone call or private conversation to which you are not a party. Although they are referred to as "two‐party consent" laws.    Federal law and most state statutes also make disclosing the contents of an illegally intercepted  telephone call illegal. or whether all parties need to consent. In many states. But the legal situation becomes more  uncertain when parties to a phone call are located in different states. do not have consent  from at least one party..

 However.3d 177 (3rd Cir. 560 (1981).S. however. all fifty states have adopted rules on the  8    . many state  statutes permit the recording of speeches and conversations that take place where the parties  may reasonably expect to be recorded. 449 U. 1999). In Chandler v. Supreme Court  held that the federal Constitution does not prohibit states from allowing cameras in the  courtroom and that states may adopt their own rules permitting such recording equipment. Being upfront puts people on notice that they are being recorded. affords them  the opportunity to object. and  photography. this will require: (1) notifying the person of the intent to record. the U. so long as the method of recording used is reasonable and not disruptive. it cannot hurt (and it may help) to get consent from everyone. In some states. Whenever possible.    Even when no state open meetings law affirmatively gives the the right to record. it is likely that the people running a meeting or giving a speech should reasonably  assume that they might be recorded. is based largely on state open meetings laws.    RECORDING PUBLIC MEETINGS AND COURT HEARINGS    Generally speaking. Since this ruling. sound and video recording devices. Whiteland. If a reporter is attending a meeting that is open to the  public. and the details of these  laws vary significantly.  Whiteland Woods. secret recording is a violation of the law even in a  public place. As a  practical matter. including a  ban on certain devices. (2)  getting consent off‐the‐record. 193 F. LLP v. This is the best way to document that consent was obtained. Township of W. make it clear to those around that a recording is being  made. it only says  that states may choose to do so.  (3) starting the recording and then (4) asking the person  to confirm on‐the‐record that she consents to the recording.S. Concealing a camera or recording equipment  is not a good idea.    The law regarding the use of audio and video recording devices in court hearings varies a great  deal based on the state. Government  bodies may therefore place reasonable restrictions on the use recording devices. in order to preserve the orderly conduct of its meetings.  Note that this ruling does not require states to allow recording in the courtroom. At least one court has held that there is no federal constitutional right to  make a video recording of an open meeting. it is well‐advised to always take reasonable  steps to make clear that the reporter is recording. attendees are free to record a meeting of a government body required to  be open to the public by law through note‐taking.  • Don't be secretive. at least not when other methods are available for  compiling a record of the proceeding.  conversation before recording. such as written and stenographic notes or audio taping.  • Get consent on tape. The  ability to do so. Even when all parties to a conversation are in the same  place. Florida.

 This requirement is less common with respect to public  meetings. interviews. state judges in Colorado  and Ohio recently took action against courtroom observers who used social media technology  in court. or camera.        9    . State law varies greatly. phone calls. while in others recording is only allowed in  appellate court proceedings.  topic. such as a microphone. recording secretly is a violation of the law.    The federal appellate courts may adopt their own rules regarding cameras and recording  equipment in the courtroom. but the rules vary widely. In some states. even in a  public place like a meeting or courtroom. only the Second Circuit and the Ninth  Circuit Courts of Appeals allow recording equipment. is a helpful way to  capture and preserve information about conversations. Many state laws require that permission be granted in advance in order to  record in a courtroom. In some states. whether for  personal reference or later broadcast over the Internet. It is also a  good way to document what takes place in a court hearing or public meeting. At the time of writing.       THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE COURTROOM      Courts are addressing the extent to which Internet and new media resources should be  available to courtroom observers and jurors. and phone calls. cameras and recording equipment are  permitted in trial and appellate court proceedings. Most states give the court discretion to impose reasonable  restrictions on the use of cameras and recording equipment in order to maintain the integrity  of its proceedings and to otherwise serve the interests of justice.  In two separate cases.      • Check the law before showing up.    Practical Tips for Recording Public Meetings and Court Hearings    Using a recording device.   • Don't be secretive. especially when it comes to  recording in the courtroom. Here are some practical tips to  minimize legal risks when recording conversations. meetings. and hearings. Looking into the law ahead of time can help the reporter  understand what's possible and the requirements to meet ahead of time.   • Notify the clerk of the court or the governmental body holding the meeting well ahead  of time. but it may still be useful to advise the governmental body in question of a  plan to record. video recorder.

       At a hearing on the contempt citation held on February 25. Judge Russo told Block and  Dwight Davenport that they were guilty of "intimidating and frightening my jury. tweeting. a  Massachusetts appeals court upheld a witness intimidation conviction against a defendant who  pointed a cell phone at an undercover officer in a courtroom hallway while the officer was  waiting to testify against the defendant.  were pointing the above‐mentioned devices at the jury.  In Commonwealth v. no video or photographs of  jurors were found on his phone. on the second  day of trial jurors noticed that Andre Block (the defendant's friend) and Dwight Davenport (the  defendant's cousin).  Another Ohio  court has banned most cell phones and similar devices from the courthouse. And Dwight Davenport claimed that  he used his cell phone to send a text message to his girlfriend.2d 475 (Mass. recorded or photographed. allow for broadcasting  of court proceedings with the permission of the presiding judge.  On February 16.  But Judge Russo rejected this claim. his friend Dwayne Davenport. 2009.  After jurors complained to Common  Pleas Judge Nancy Margaret Russo. claimed that he was taking video of  the defendant. and are awaiting sentencing.   10    .  Victims and witnesses have  the right to object to being filmed. but  there is no such provision for jurors (although Rule 12(C)(4) provides that "Media  representatives shall not be permitted to transmit or record anything other than the court  proceedings from the courtroom while the court is in session. "You were seen by more  than one person pointing it at the jury. Marc Kantrowitz wrote for the court. Dwayne Davenport went on trial for the fatal shooting of Michael  Grissett in East Cleveland on January 16. App." she said in sentencing Davenport to 30 days in jail. Ct. Block."       After the incident. Judge Russo sentenced Block to 60 days in prison.) As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. to remember him in case Davenport was sent to  prison. Rule 12(C)(2). several signs were posted in the Cuyahoga County courthouse  forbidding the use of recording devices and requiring cell phones to be shut off. and other social media dispatches from courtrooms). which were written before the advent of social media technology.E. at 479. 2007). who used a Flip  phone to record about eight minutes of the proceedings. "as the police officer was made to  believe that the defendant was taking pictures of him and could disseminate his likeness. an act  intended to intimidate."  Associate Justice R." and that their  actions had made the jurors fearful of jury service.  Ohio's court  rules.  "It is irrelevant whether any photographs were taken. who were seated in the back row of the courtroom observing the trial.  (Two other defendants in the case pleaded  guilty. videotaped.     This is not the first case in which pointing a cell phone has been held to constitute  intimidation." which arguably could prohibit  text messaging. "You  knew full well what you were doing. 876 N. forcing the mistrial. she ordered Block and Dwight Davenport arrested for  contempt of court and declared a mistrial in the case."  Casiano. Casiano.

 Robert Forto—who was covering the case for his  blog—had his iPhone with him in the courtroom. the judge ultimately retained the  restrictions on the use of media in the courtroom. It had attracted significant public interest in the  Jacksonville area.  security checkpoints at both the courthouse and courtroom doors. It was a direct violation of my order."       A sheriff's deputy saw Forto send the text message and removed Forto from the  courtroom and took his cell phone. including a prohibition on all communications  from the courtroom.000 hits and was laden with  commentary from interested readers.  Angela Corey."   Under the terms of the order.     11    . who according to KMGH‐TV explained: "What you did was a  contempt (of court). Judge Christina Habas has  imposed strict restrictions on trial observers.       Despite these restrictions. saying "I  can't talk right now. but permitted him to  watch the trial in the overflow room. numerous signs in the courthouse summarizing the rules. After about an hour. or other means.  In January.  Forto texted his daughter. who had stopped by the trial in a supervisory capacity on the first day. During the first day and a half of trial. then his wife sent  him a text message." according to the newspaper's  petition appealing the judge’s initial ruling prohibiting live blogging. Even the State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit.      But it’s not just observers’ use of technology that is coming under scrutiny. Florida. text website. involved three brothers being  tried for the murder of a 9‐year‐old girl. reporter Bridget Murphy was sending  periodic updates from her laptop in the courtroom to a dedicated blog page on the Times‐ Union's Jacksonville.  accused of killing Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams.      Another recent incident arose during the Colorado murder case against Willie Clark. Although  an appeals court reversed the trial judge's initial ruling. dubbed the Dubose Murder Trial.       The case in question. after the first  day of live online coverage the blog had received over 1. said she  was a fan of the live coverage and called the blog "awesome. Habas banned Forto from the courtroom. even if it was well intentioned. and an announcement of  the cell phone ban at the start of proceedings.  His daughter called him. a  Florida trial court judge banned a Florida Times‐Union reporter from live‐blogging during a  high‐profile murder trial in the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Duval County. whether by blogging. during a recess in the trial. and then his daughter left a voicemail. and a ban on  cameras and cell phones from an entire section of the courthouse. According to documents filed with the court. Forto was  called before Judge Habas.

       Later. Circuit Judge L. and Judge Haddock ruled that only two devices total were permitted.  While the  appeals court disagreed with Judge Haddock's legal reasoning. The ban was raised sua sponte. The trial court retains the  authority.  Therefore. Page Haddock expelled Murphy and her  laptop from the courtroom. Florida."      Just as the Internet and digital devices have made it easier for bloggers and other media  to disseminate information on a trial. one television camera and one still photographer were also covering the  proceedings. holding that Rule 2.       The Times‐Union attorneys filed an emergency motion before the District Court of  Appeal for the First District of Florida. requesting that laptop use be permitted at the trial.  but that Rule 2. however. with Judge Haddock telling a Times‐ Union attorney.450 imposed a limitation of two total devices in the courtroom at any one time. and provides that "at least 1  portable television camera.   After reading the appellate court's order  in open court. The  appeals court granted the motion in‐part. 1D10‐226 (Fla.       The next day. Pursuant to regular court practice in the  jurisdiction. these technologies also have made it easier for jurors to  12    .450." and "[n]ot more than 1  audio system for radio broadcast" shall be permitted in any trial or appellate court proceeding. my ruling about devices is going to stay the way  it is. which says that electronic media and still photography coverage of public judicial  proceedings "shall be allowed" subject to the court's discretion. Judge Haddock amended his order.    On the second day of trial. stating that he would allow laptops. Co. Jan.  even when used to live‐blog:   The rule does not apply to the use of laptop computers. "They’re distracting the jurors.450 does not apply to laptops."  He also stated that  blogging live from the courtroom violated a Florida Supreme Court order about how many  transmitting devices are allowed in the courtroom. to prohibit the use of any device which as a factual matter. Judge Haddock stated: "For now. if Murphy wanted to continue her coverage. 20.     Morris Pub. the  court finds causes a disruption of proceedings. it became clear that Judge Haddock was relying on Judicial Administration Rule  2. v. Dist. Ct. No. its ruling recognized his  continuing authority to prohibit the use of laptops if it caused a disruption. she could only do so if either the still  camera or the video camera were not being used." "[n]ot more than 1 still photographer. App. 2010. The appeals court  decision thus left open to Judge Haddock the possibility of going back to his very first  justification for prohibiting live blogging of the trial. regardless of whether the  device is used to transmit information outside the courtroom. they’re distracting me.

 or website such as Facebook. such as a telephone. and the individuals  or corporations involved in the case. the matters in the case. prompted the U. blog. must decide this case based solely on the evidence presented here within  the four walls of this courtroom. Judicial  Conference—which sets policies for all federal courts except the Supreme Court— to  disseminate this past January new suggested jury instructions on "juror use of electronic  communication technologies" during trial. cell phone.S. through any blog or website. iPhone.        The Judicial Conference's Committee on Court Administration and Case Management.   which approved the suggested instructions in December. and YouTube. or use any other electronic  tools to obtain information about this case or to help you decide the case. Blackberry. as jurors. YouTube or  Twitter.  including Facebook. to be given before the jury begins to deliberate. In other words. including fellow jurors.  conduct independent research related to the trial. you should not consult dictionaries  or reference materials. LinkedIn. LinkedIn. through e‐ mail.       The suggested post‐trial instruction. or by way of any other social networking websites.  This.  The suggested instruction also includes a laundry list of  technologies that jurors should not use:   You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cell phone. blogs. websites. Blackberry or computer. or on Twitter. any internet service. My Space. or any text or instant messaging service. in turn. search the internet. My Space. notes in a preface to the instructions  that the committee thought it was important to specifically identify the technologies and  services that jurors should not use:  13    . you must not communicate with or provide any information  to anyone by any means about this case.  through any internet chat room. Please do not  try to find out information from any source outside the confines of this courtroom. This means that during the trial you must not conduct  any independent research about this case.  the internet.       The suggested instruction to be used before trial states:   You. smart phone. You may not use any electronic device or  media. text messaging. iPhone.      The pre‐trial instruction also admonishes jurors that they must not discuss the case with  anyone. or any  internet chat room. includes a  more extensive list:   During your deliberations. to communicate to anyone any information about this case or to conduct any  research about this case until I accept your verdict.

  One of the earliest cases to do so  was a 2003 Colorado case in which the state's Court of Appeals overturned a defentant’s  conviction based on a juror’s Internet research.  the information obtained thereby may be misleading. constituted egregious  14    . in a unanimous.   77 P. In view of the problems and dangers associated with the  unsupervised use of the Internet. but the  appeals court reversed. a  juror in the trial of Zarzine Wardlaw used the Internet to independently research the definition  of "oppositional defiant disorder. a juror in a criminal trial had done research online about  the drug Paxil. In People v. App. aff'd. a  therapist testified that she had diagnosed a key witness as having the disorder. State. 2009).  The Committee believes that more explicit mention in jury instructions of the various  methods and modes of electronic communication and research would help jurors better  understand and adhere to the scope of the prohibition against the use of these devices. . or any other extraneous materials.  rightly or wrongly. both the prosecutor  and defense counsel moved for a mistrial based on the juror's Internet research. 77 P. taken out of context. 440  (Md.3d 932 (Colo. three‐judge decision. 1478/07. and Wardlaw's attorney moved for a mistrial. and  shared that research with other jurors. 185 Md.      The new guidelines follow a spate of cases where appeals courts have overturned jury  verdicts because of social media use by jurors during trial. trial courts should emphasize that jurors should not  consult the Internet. that lying is associated with the disorder.3d 764 (Colo. the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had declared mistrials in two  cases based on juror’s Internet research.  The trial court  denied this motion.  The trial court denied a motion for a new trial. at any time during the trial. outdated. Wadle.       The appellate court. which the defendant accused of murdering her step‐grandson had taken.       More recently. Special App. Ct.  Yet. and her subsequent reporting of her finding.  But 30 minutes after the jury resumed deliberations. holding that   Although the Internet has made information more accessible for the average person. 97 P. No. . or  simply inaccurate.3d at 771. the judge instructed the jury that it could base its verdict only on the evidence  presented in court.  including during deliberations.  During the trial. May 8. 2004). App. the trial court had instructed the jurors not to investigate  the case in any way beyond the evidence presented in court. In Wardlaw v.   Instead." and whether lying is a part of the illness. despite this admonition. The trial judge  learned of the research in a note from the jury. concluded that the trial  court's failure to question the jurors about the influence of the Internet research required a  reversal:   [T]he juror’s internet research of ODD.  2003).

 Div.  holding that an "adverse influence on a single juror compromises the impartiality of the entire  jury panel" (quoted in The Baltimore Sun). .        Questioned the following Monday. but had not revealed the results of her  research.  In State of  New Jersey v.. It was  error for the court to do so. and was presumptively prejudicial to either the State or appellant. the trial court did not voir dire the jury. No. 9. Dec. In Clark. the Superior Court of New Jersey. July 20.  Queried  in chambers. The appeals court reversed in another unanimous decision.J.   In this case.        A New Jersey appeals court panel reached a similar conclusion in July 2009. and  the possible sentence for conviction on the Internet. which were  entries on "livor mortis" and "algor mortis. the complaining juror said that the emotional juror  had announced to her fellow jurors that she had researched the defendants.J. because a specific inquiry into the thought processes of the  jury was the only method of ascertaining whether the information about ODD. claiming that the  emotional juror was acting improperly. During  the trial." touched on an issue in the murder case—namely.       A different three‐judge panel of the same court reached the same conclusion in Allan  Jake Clark v. . Ct. Nov. a  bailiff discovered printouts from Wikipedia articles in the jury room. improperly and irreparably influenced the jury’s  deliberative process to the prejudice of appellant or the State. cert  denied. The jury convicted Clark of first‐degree murder.  The complaining juror added that the emotional juror had also read—and tried to  15    .  But after the jury began deliberations.  The printouts. . State.  another juror left a phone message for the trial judge over a weekend break. Special App. Unpub.   The court questioned the jurors and determined that only one juror had done outside research  and seen the articles. 2009). 2009 N.  Given the fact that his misconduct came to light while the jury was still  deliberating. 0953/08 (Md.J. leaning forward and apparently crying. it was  incumbent upon the trial court to voir dire the jurors to determine whether they could  still render an impartial verdict based solely on the evidence presented at trial. . Appellate  Division. 3.   Wardlaw v. 2009 N. and the trial judge denied  a defense motion for a mistrial. but instead gave a curative  instruction admonishing the jury not to conduct outside research and reminding them  that they were to render a verdict based only on the evidence presented at trial. . the juror said that she could continue. slip op. one of the jurors was very emotional. reversed the convictions of three cousins on aggravated manslaughter charges. Super. App. State of Maryland.J. at 10‐11. . acquired  through the juror’s internet research. 2009). LEXIS 1370 (N. No. LEXIS 1901 (N. 2009).  how the time and place of death may be determined by looking at how blood settles in a body. the victims.  misconduct. Scott.

  2009). a federal district court judge declared a mistrial in a complex drug  prosecution after discovering that 10 of the 12 jurors had done independent Internet research  on the case. 52       In another case. the appeals court held that in this case  "a mistrial should have been declared. slip op. Crim. after one juror sent a note saying that another juror had done research.  Based on the emotional juror's failure to admit her apparent violation of the  court's instructions. Frank Hernandez. but did not recall who had  made this statement.  And. and held up a piece of paper with her decision. "[s]he also admitted to holding up a piece of paper with 'something written on  it' but claimed that she was 'told to' do that 'specific thing. para. the emotional juror denied doing research on the Internet and said  that she had seen only a headline about the case in the newspaper.'"  New Jersey v. and had announced at the start of deliberations that she  had already made her decision. mistrial declared March 10.       16    .D. concluding that "juror 14's  misconduct tainted the jury as a whole. But only one of these jurors recalled the emotional juror mentioning  anything she found in that research.  As in the other cases.. 112. The trial judge then questioned the other ten jurors. Jenkins. v... Four jurors confirmed that the  emotional juror said either that she had done research online or knew where such research  could be done online.  hide—a newspaper in the jury room. Citing New  Jersey precedent holding that "[a] deliberating juror may not be discharged and replaced with  an alternate unless the record 'adequately establish[es] that the juror suffers from an inability  to function that is personal and unrelated to the juror's interaction with the other jury  members. Scott. Scott. 124‐25 (2004). the juror said that she had mentioned the possible  sentence for the original murder charges in the case. according to the  appellate court."  New Jersey v.  34.       The appeals court disagreed with this assessment.       When questioned. Fla.J. 182 N. The error  requires a new trial. slip op. para. Scott. the trial court replaced that juror with an alternate."  New Jersey v. holding that the remaining jurors were not tainted. Failure to do so constitutes reversible error. slip op.  One juror remembered that someone had  mentioned that information about the case was available online. 52.  But he denied a  mistrial.'" State v. U.S. And the remaining three jurors did not recall hearing anything about  Internet research. the jurors' research came to light through questioning by the  judge. 07‐60027 (S. para. No.

 §11(6). contents  of a communication. .  The salient provisions of both bills are summarized below. or (B) any records. the Senate and House bills  will need to be reconciled—likely through the conference committee process—to arrive at a  final piece of legislation. .  448. 448 originally limited protection to "salaried employee[s]" and independent  contractors for established news media organizations. regularly gathers. . broadcasting . photographs. of confidentiality . records.  The bill now defines  “covered person” as anyone who   (i) with the primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to  disseminate to the public news or information concerning local. edits. but amendments in late October  expanded coverage to reach anyone carrying out a reporter’s function. or information that a covered person obtained or created—(i)  as part of engaging in journalism. In December 2009. or other means . national. 985 in  March 2009 by a voice vote. §6(c).  mechanical. . prepares. . That bill was subsequently placed on  the Senate calendar.  who] (ii) has such intent at the inception of the process of gathering the news or  information sought. documents. where it awaits a final vote. 448—only protects the identity of confidential sources and  newsgathering material obtained upon a promise of confidentiality. and (iii) obtains the news or information sought in order to  disseminate the news or information by means of print . . as part of engaging in journalism. .     While both the House and Senate versions provide a qualified privilege to reporters in  federal proceedings. . the Senate Judiciary Committee voted fourteen  to five to send S.” S. . Id. 448 to the floor of the Senate for a vote. . . they differ substantially regarding what type of information is covered and  who can invoke the privilege.R. electronic.  collects. writes.”  The House passed H. . [. . and  (ii) upon a [confidentiality] promise or agreement.    S. . It defines “protected  information” as “(A) information identifying a source who provided information under a  promise . photographic. both dubbed the “Free Flow of Information Act. or  international events or other matters of public interest. Assuming it passes.   1    .Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.   Senate Version    The Senate bill—S.  The bill leaves intact any common law protections available for sources or  newsgathering information obtained in the absence of a confidentiality agreement. . Have You?  UPDATE ON THE FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION ACT  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    The United State Congress is currently considering two versions of a federal reporters’  shield bill. reports or publishes on such matters .

 §11(2)(A). Further still.  Id.    In a criminal matter. (4) the  Attorney General certifies that the decision to request compelled disclosure was made in a  manner consistent with section 50. or destruction of critical infrastructure. (3)  based on public information or information obtained from a source other than the covered  person. and (5) the covered person has not  established by clear and convincing evidence that disclosure of the protected information  would be contrary to the public interest. Id. the shield does not protect any  information. § 4. (2) the testimony or document sought is essential to resolution of the  matter. or item obtained as the result of the eyewitness observations  of. there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred. § 2(a)(2)(A). Id. kidnapping. based on public information or information obtained from a source other than  the covered person. the qualified privilege may be overcome if the federal court finds: (1)  the party seeking disclosure has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources for acquiring the  protected information. Id. 448 also contains several exceptions.    In a civil matter. The omission of language restricting the bill to salaried employees or independent  contractors strongly suggests that the term “covered entity” reaches bloggers and non‐ traditional and amateur journalists who gather news for dissemination to the public. taking into account both the public interest in  gathering and disseminating the information or news at issue and maintaining the free flow of  information and the public interest in compelling disclosure (including the extent of any harm  to national security). there is an  exception for cases where information is sought to prevent terrorist activity or harm to national  security. Code of Federal Regulations.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Id. The shield also does not apply when the  information sought is reasonably necessary to prevent or mitigate death. record. § 2(a)(2)(B). § 3(a). Code of Federal Regulations. if compelled  disclosure is sought by a member of the Department of Justice in circumstances governed by  section 50.10 of title 28. and (3) the party seeking disclosure has established that the interest in compelling  disclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disseminating the news and the free flow of  information. §5. there are reasonable grounds to believe that the protected information sought is  essential to the investigation or prosecution or to the defense against the prosecution. Have You?  Id. Id. § 3(b). document.  For instance.  S. alleged criminal conduct by the reporter.10 of title 28. the qualified privilege may be overcome if the federal court finds:  (1) the party seeking disclosure has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources for acquiring  the protected information. (2) if the party seeking to compel disclosure is the Federal  Government.  substantial bodily harm.   House Version  2    .  This  exception does not apply when the alleged criminal conduct is the act of communicating the  documents or information at issue. or obtained during the course of.

 ‐(a)(2)(B).R.  The definition of “covered person” also excludes persons and organizations identified as  foreign powers.  employer. § 4(2). edits. not just sources or  material obtained in return for a promise of confidentiality.R.” Id. and even some freelancers who don't get paid  well. 985—is similar to the Senate’s version.”  H. 985 is less expansive than the Senate bill in terms of who enjoys the shield’s  protection. §2(b). and terrorist organizations. (2) the testimony or document sought is critical to the successful  completion of the matter.R. (4) identification of someone who has disclosed a trade secret." Id. § 2(a)(1).Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.  1 3    .  If the testimony or document sought could reveal the identity of a source. or publishes information concerning matters of public interest for dissemination to the  public for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or substantial financial gain. with the additional requirement that. 985 extends the shield’s qualified privilege to  any  documents or information obtained during the newsgathering process. or (5) identification of  someone who “without authorization disclosed properly classified information and who at the  time of such disclosure had authorized access to such information .     H. H.    In a civil matter.1 This language would probably  exclude many bloggers and student journalists. reports. the qualified privilege may be overcome if the federal court finds: (1)  the party seeking disclosure has exhausted all reasonable alternative sources for acquiring the  protected information.  Significantly. subsidiary. H. and (3) the public interest in compelling disclosure of the information  or document involved outweighs the public interest in gathering or disseminating news or  information. (1) there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has                                                                   The House bill defines "covered person" as “a person who regularly gathers. agents of foreign powers. but there are some  important differences.  writes. § 4(2)(A)‐ (E).  Id. Have You?    The House bill—H. ‐(a)(4). the qualified privilege may be overcome by the same showing as  above.  (2) prevention of “significant and  specified” national security harms. parent.R. Id.  With respect to the third element.   In a criminal matter. photographs. records. §2(a)(3). the privilege  is only overcome if a court finds that disclosure is necessary to one of the following ends: (1)  prevention (or identification of a perpetrator) of terrorism. 985 gives  the court authority to consider the extent of any harm to national security in conducting the  balancing test. 985. based on information obtained from a person  other than the covered person. § 2(a). terrorists.”  H. including a supervisor. or affiliate of such a person. §4(2). Id.R. . 985.  The bill states that a federal entity  may not compel a covered person to “provide testimony or produce any document related to  information obtained or created by such covered person as part of engaging in journalism. . (3) prevention of substantial bodily harm or imminent  death.R. It limits protection to those who gather news "for a substantial portion of the  person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain.

 985 contains a provision stating that the proposed federal shield will not apply to  “civil defamation. record. and (2) the testimony or document sought is critical to the investigation or  prosecution or to the defense against the prosecution.” Id. §2(e).    H. Id. or document in question. slander.  The  exception does not apply when the alleged criminal or tortious conduct is the act of  transmitting or communicating the information. § 2(a)(2)(A). § 2(d). Have You?  occurred. or item  obtained by the reporter as a result of eyewitness observation of alleged criminal conduct.R.  Id. regardless of whether or  not such claims or defenses.    4    . or libel claims or defenses under State law. respectively. record. document. or as  a result of the commission of alleged criminal or tortious conduct by the reporter.      The House bill excludes from protection any information. are raised in a State or Federal court.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.

 the court did say that there is “merit  in leaving state legislatures free. Hayes. for  example. at 708. sources will be less likely to speak and  the First Amendment will be greatly harmed.C. traditional media organizations.   Id. within First Amendment limits. at 706. Circuit after rejecting a reporter’s privilege  argument in 2006: “Unquestionably. The most contentious issues concern the scope of  protection:   • • Who is protected? Full‐time employees of larger.  Branzburg will not be overturned. 665 (1972). Have You?  STATE SHIELD LAWS: AN OVERVIEW  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    The United States Supreme Court last addressed the constitutionality of a reporter’s  privilege in Branzburg v.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. and (2) there is no privilege to  refuse to answer questions that directly relate to criminal conduct that a journalist has  observed and written about. Of those states that do have a shield law or recognize a qualified privilege. Said the D. But the inconsistency among shield laws remains. Thirteen states do not and of those only 8  recognize a qualified reporter’s privilege based on their state constitutions.  1    . 679‐81 (1972). Efforts to pass federal  shield law legislation. 408 U. Hayes.”4 Nearly 40 years after Branzburg and as of November of last year. 408 U.  the protection granted to journalists varies. though recently amplified.S. The journalists in the consolidated  Branzburg cases argued that the free flow of information would be chilled if they could not  ensure the anonymity of sources. the court  clearly held that (1) there is no privilege to refuse to appear before a grand jury until the  government demonstrates a compelling need for the testimony.3    Despite the 5‐4 ruling against a reporter’s privilege.1 If a reporter’s privilege does not exist to protect journalists  from disclosing unpublished information.  4  Id. the answers to these questions  become more clear.S. they argued.2 Though sympathetic to their case. continue to stall and in the words of one court. to fashion their own  standards. common law or the  First Amendment. the Supreme Court decided in Branzburg that there is no                                                                        1 2  Branzburg v. or part‐time online journalists as well?  What is protected? The identities of sources or notes and materials too? Are confidential  and non‐confidential materials protected equally? Is an eye‐witness account of a journalist  protected?  How strong is the protection? What balancing tests do courts use when determining if a  reporter’s privilege applies?  •   As states continue to enact and refine their shield laws. 665. 37 states and the  District of Columbia have some form of a shield law.  3  Id.

 network. Stat. §§ 2739. The Partnership for a Secure America. 24. Fixing the Federal Shield Law.”9 The statute explicitly excludes book authors and those who are not  professional journalists. news  journal.”10  Georgia also excludes any journalist whose work is not published in a “newspaper. § 24‐9‐30 (1993). Without a doubt. meaning those who do not gather news for “gain or livelihood.”6 The same for Kentucky7 and Ohio. Civ. responding to the imprisonment of  a Baltimore Sun reporter for refusing to reveal a confidential source to a grand jury.12 (Baldwin 1981 & 1990 Supp). wire service. § 90. 2006).15 “In an era of instantaneous dissemination of information over the Internet                                                                   In re Grand Jury Subpoena. for example. radio or television station. Cir. is only one who is paid for his or her reporting.     Current shield laws largely focus on “traditional” forms of journalism. Code § 12‐21‐142 (1986). Code Ann. Rev. a journalist is one who  gathers news “for a substantial portion of the person’s livelihood or for a substantial financial  gain.100 (Baldwin 1990). that is the end of the matter. Rights Law § 79‐h(b).” according to the state’s  shield‐the‐federal‐shield‐law/ (last visited April 6. 2009).Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. book.5015(1)(a) (1998).  11    Ga.  While most shield laws protect print and broadcast journalists.C. at § 79‐h(a)(6).  magazine. a bipartisan foreign  policy think tank. Sept.13 In Texas. 1147 (D. Alabama’s shield  law.  13    Id.  7    Ky.psaonline.  10    Id. radio broadcasting station or  television station.  5 2    . (Tex. 2010).  12    N.B.  6    Ala. The Highest Court has spoken and never  revisited the question. or  news magazine. §§ 2739.”5 When it comes to  forcing journalists to testify. or [on] radio or television broadcast.”14     Legislation that defines a journalist by income or a particular type of media is  nonsensical.3d 1141. 421. 438 F. Have You?  First Amendment privilege protecting journalists from appearing before a grand jury or from  testifying before a grand jury or otherwise providing evidence to a grand jury regardless of any  confidence promised by the reporter to any source. Stat..”11 New York provides absolute protection for a  journalist’s confidential information and sources. Code Ann. providing new media through which journalists can report. Judith Miller. 670. protects only journalists at “any newspaper.  8    Ohio Rev.12 but a “journalist. wrote John Eden of the Partnership for a Secure America. Reg. Ann. press association.04. 2009  http://blog. state law may be the last line of defense. Technology  changed considerably since then.  9    Fla.  Who is Protected?    Maryland enacted the first state shield law in 1896. Sess. news agency.8 Florida’s shield law covers only those  journalists who work as a salaried employee or independent contractor of “a newspaper.  14    H.  15    John Eden.Y. states have been slow to include  new media and bloggers. 81st Leg.

16 “If what we care about is getting  the most up‐to‐date. it’s hard to see why the privilege should be limited to  journalists who are getting paid to collect news. ALS 210 (2008). Massachusetts. That state protects those whom disseminate information to  the public “by means of tangible or electronic media. legal director for the  Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.  22    Sewell Chan.23 Kansas is on the verge of passing perhaps the most progressive shield law.  17    Id.”26 Though the wording of California’s                                                                   Id. May 20.18 “If the blogger’s involvement is to report  information to the public and to gather information for that purpose openly then they should  be treated like a journalist. Bill Would Extend Shield Law to Cover Bloggers. broadcast and wire  services. including but not limited to. or  electronic distribution (emphasis added).com/2009/05/20/bill‐would‐extend‐shield‐law‐to‐cover‐bloggers/ (last visited April  7. is currently  debating a bill that defines a journalist by his or her actions — engagement in “bona fide news  gathering” — rather than for whom the journalist is employed.” Eden said.aspx?topic=blogging. 2010). but as any organization that “is in the  regular business of news gathering and disseminating news or information to the public by any  means. accurate information. (last visited April 6.25 That means student journalists could be covered as well.blogs. Blogging Overview. one of the states without a shield law. why should it matter whether a blogger or a CNN  reporter has delivered the news to us?”17    Whether or not an individual should be considered a journalist under shield laws “has to  do more with the function that person is performing.  18    The First Amendment Center.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.”19    There are several bills sitting in state legislatures that would extend shield law  protection to bloggers.firstamendmentcenter.  26    Hi.nytimes. 2585 (2010).  19  topic.  20    Massachusetts House Bill 1650 §2 (2009)  21    Id. print broadcast.        In Hawaii.  24    Kansas Senate Substitute for House Bill No. it doesn’t matter. photographic. Have You?  by bloggers and other part‐time pundits. 2009  http://cityroom.  23    New York Civil Rights Law Article 7 § 79‐h.  16 3    . mechanical.”24 The bill offers  protection based primarily on whether an individual engages in journalism.  25    Id. one that  explicitly provides coverage to “online journal[s]” that are engaged in “the regular business of  newsgathering and disseminating news or information to the public. http://www. internet. not whether he or  she is a professional journalist. 2010). The New York Times.”21 New York considered an extension of its current  shield law to “journalist bloggers.” said Gregg Leslie.20 It also describes the “news  media” not as a traditional print or broadcast entity.”22 Its law now covers only print.

 published and unpublished‐would‐extend‐shield‐law‐to‐cover‐bloggers/ (last visited April  7.  Its shield law doesn’t use the word “journalist” at all but instead protects any “person engaged  in procuring.  30    Sewell Chan. eye witness accounts and details about their news organization’s editorial process. McMasters and Geoffrey R. The most broad also protect them  from disclosing confidential and non‐confidential materials. Dec.32  “What you are trying to protect is the journalism function.firstamendmentcenter. Rev. The First Amendment Center. other periodical. at §§ 20‐145(2).4th 1423 (Cal. pamphlet. news or feature  syndicate. but are not limited to.34  “Federal officials also have gone after telephone records and reporters’ notes and reportedly                                                                   See O'Grady v. or disseminating  news or other information.” wrote the First Amendment Center’s Paul McMasters in 2004.27 Nebraska’s Free Flow of Information Act is one of the more liberal. Superior Court.  34    Paul K. http://www.  29    Id.  27 4    .”28 The  types of media covered by the statute include. Others do not.” she said.”29     This type of statute begs the question: Why define “news media” at all? A broad  definition of “professional journalist” may be the only thing that’s needed.)  28    Neb. “any”31    “Some people are doing valuable journalism when they blog. broadcast station or network. 2009  http://cityroom.    “The sources are not the only things sought in these forays into reporting practices and  newsroom procedures.nytimes. regardless of whether the publication medium is  print or online. wire service.  executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. said Lucy Dalglish. 139 Cal. news service. Have You?  shield law implies coverage for traditional media only. Bill Would Extend Shield Law to Cover Bloggers.”33  What is Protected?    The most narrow shield laws and interpretations of a reporter’s privilege protect  journalists only against the disclosure of anonymous sources.  31    Id.  magazine. Ct. Dalglish noted that “blogging is a  technology and a method of delivery. 2006) (holding that the shield law  applies to persons gathering news for dissemination to the public. The New York Times. book. editing. or cable television system. §§ 20‐146 (1992).  33    Id.  2010).  32    Id. 2010).Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. App. Stat. writing. 14. not the technology or the  platform. Do Journalists Need a Better  Shield?.aspx?id=14547 (last visited April 7. Stone.30 Critiquing New  York’s recent effort to expand its shield law last year. 2004. gathering. App. a 2006 ruling extended that coverage to  online news sites as well.blogs. May 20.

  42    Id.  48    See State v. While some state courts distinguished confidential information (more coverage)  from non‐confidential information (less or no coverage). Rev. Rev.” there are several exceptions.51 Oregon. no  journalist is required “to disclose any information obtained. Stat.37  Louisiana. Ch.12 (Baldwin 1981 & 1990 Supp. Laws.49 North Dakota offers just as broad protection. Turner. unless a district court determines that  “the failure of disclosure of such evidence will cause a miscarriage of justice.2d 622 (Minn. Ch.  43    Mont.38 Ohio39 and Pennsylvania40 have similar statutes. Jackson. prepared. §§ 26‐1‐902. Ann. v.010.A.2 (1991). Stat.”43 New Mexico.  41    Colo. Cent. Gen. 23 Med.9 (1999). Under Montana’s shield law.100 (Baldwin 1990). or edited by a newsperson. §§ 9‐19.  processed. Title 24. however.D. Have You?  have tried to enlist journalists as informants. § 38‐6‐7 (Michie 1987). §§ 2739. Ct.”36 There is no protection from  disclosing notes or eyewitness accounts unless doing so would identify a confidential source. Code § 31‐01‐06.1‐3(b)(1). 2118 (Ky.  49    N. 1991). § 5942 (1993). American Employers Ins. or prepared or the source of that  information. Art. C. procured.68.. Code Ann. Rptr. § 13‐90‐119(2). Illinois. L. only protecting journalists from  disclosing the “source of any information procured or obtained. Stat. but all  materials produced while gathering news. 1. 1995). § 24‐1‐208 (1996).  50    N. 421. 578 So. 1996). Code Ann. Stat. 8. Rev.04.C. observed. Cir. Stat.  45    Tenn. previously published or broadcast or based on the  journalist’s personal observation of a crime.M.  46    R.44 Tennessee. CBS Inc. 185 Mich.  38    La.I. Rev. 7 § 8‐53.  39    Ohio Rev.  44    N.  51    735 ILCS 5/8‐901‐909.  40    42 Pa. Williams.S. protect not just materials related to confidential sources. get certain information from being reported and  forced reporters off of stories they have covered for months or years.”35    Kentucky’s shield law is one of the more narrow. 550 N. while acting in the capacity of a  newsperson.45 Rhode Island46 and Washington47 offer similar  protection.W. 700 (Fla. Gen. Co.  47    Wash.  36    Ky.41 The privilege of non‐disclosure doesn’t apply to  information received at a press conference. Ann. Part 2.  Marketos v. §§ 45:1451‐1459 (West 1992). for example.”50 Several states  believe such a miscarriage of justice would occur if their respective shield laws applied in  defamation cases.48 journalists in North Carolina can  claim protection for both under its shield law..42    Many states.  37    See Maddox v. App. Though Colorado’s shield law  protects journalists from disclosing “any news information received. Ann. written. Code § 5.).Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.  5    . Code Ann. Ann. Title 9. §§ 2739.  preventing the disclosure of any information or source.2d 698. 179 (1990).                                                                 35    Id.52 Rhode Island53 and Tennessee54 all prevent a journalist  from using any type of reporter’s privilege as a defense .

 or qualifications to a reporter’s  privilege: When a grand jury asks a reporter to reveal confidences. (2) demonstrate that the information cannot be obtained  by alternative means less destructive of First Amendment rights.58 A balancing test is used. New York uses a test nearly identical to that in Garland. 259 F. at 743 (Stewart. when determining if non‐ confidential information should be disclosed. North Carolina. Stat.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.”55 New Jersey’s otherwise broad shield law expressly  prohibits protection to journalists testifying about eyewitness observations of “any act of  physical violence or property damage. in which  the court laid out its own test: To overcome privilege and obtain compelled disclosure.  56  N. (2) necessary or critical to maintenance of the claim.59 This opinion reflected an influential  decision by the Second Circuit 14 years earlier in Garland v. dissenting). 7 § 8‐53. and (3)  unavailable from alternative sources. This finding of law is often reflected in state shield  laws. provides absolute protection  for confidential information and “related material” gathered by the journalist under an express  agreement of confidentiality.  6    . doesn’t offer journalists a privilege against “disclosure of any  information. however. which passed its  shield law last year.S. 123 N.S. 481 (1991). J.”56 The limitation.A. including any physical evidence or visual or audio  recording of the observed conduct.  58  N. New York. Title 9. Stat. Civ.. uses a six‐part test that includes showing that the subpoena is not                                                                                                                                                                                                                         52 53  Or. Rights Law § 79‐h(c)..60 Texas. document. 2A:84A‐21a(h). Civ. Rev. the government should have  to: (1) demonstrate probable cause to believe that the reporter has information clearly relevant  to a specific probable violation of law. Rights Law § 79‐h(b). is narrowly construed and  doesn’t apply to observations of the aftermath of such crimes. Ch. a litigant  must make a clear and specific showing that the information sought is: (1) highly material and  relevant to the underlying claim.   R.  59  Branzburg v. Torre. 408 U.2d 545 (1958).57  How Strong is the Protection?    Very few shield laws are absolute.     The dissent in Branzburg endorsed such a balancing test. Have You?    Federal courts generally hold that the First Amendment does not excuse reporters from  testifying about eyewitness observations.  §§ 9‐19. 44. 8. § 24‐1‐208 (1996).C.530(3).9 (1999).I. for example. Art. or item obtained as the result of the journalist’s eyewitness  observations of criminal or tortious conduct. §§ 44. Title 4. Hayes. Ch. and (3) demonstrate a  compelling and overriding interest in the information. Title 24. Laws. Code Ann. When dealing with non‐confidential  information.  57  See Matter of Woodhaven Lumber & Mill Work.. 1. Part 2.  54  Tenn.1‐3(b)(1).J. Gen. for example.  55  N.J.Y. however. Gen.  60  N.    States have considered these tests — most often the Garland factors — when balancing  their own shield laws with governmental interests. Ch.Y.

 none are. The tests are fact‐intensive and can lead to  unpredictability across jurisdictions. Reg. Enacting a Reasonable Shield Law: A Reply to Professors  Clymer and Eliason. 1298 (2008). Other courts find that if so many as one factor isn’t satisfied.B. if the information request has already been  published or if the information is not confidential. U. that timely notice was given to the journalist and that “the interest of the party  subpoenaing the information outweighs the public interest in gathering and dissemination of  news. including the concerns of journalists. “a host of different approaches were adopted at the state and  federal levels. the  privilege is upheld.  63    Id. Sess.     Following Branzburg. if the party seeking information fails to fulfill any of the Garland factors. (Tex..  62    James Thomas Tucker and Stephen Wermiel.62 “What has resulted is a lack of uniformity and  uncertainty that can lead to different results for the same set of facts. 2009).  There are certain circumstances that tend to favor disclosure: if upholding the privilege would  infringe the constitutional rights of the defendant.  61 7    .”63                                                                      H.” wrote First Amendment scholars James Thomas Tucker and Stephen Wermiel in  their defense of a federal shield law. 670.”61    Generally. this is what makes  discrepancies among state statutes so concerning. Have You?  overbroad. REV. In absence of a federal shield law.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. 57 AM. 1291. 81st Leg.L.

” O.C. 389 n. papers.2d 788 (5th Cir. and those in charge of such records shall not refuse this privilege to any citizen.G.G. J.).C. 231 Ga. Bolton. Georgia Sheriff relating to the deaths of inmates in the jail under his supervision. § 50-18-70(b). the court stated that only confidential attorneyclient communications are so protected whereas these memoranda are Fulton County records and open to public inspection pursuant to the Open Records Act. Attorney-client privilege. aff’d.A. As summarized below.The Georgia Open Records Act Caselaw Summary Lesli N.5 (N. Gaither Dow Lohnes.C. all documents. the Georgia Open Records Act (O. Coupled with the Open and Public Meetings Act (O. Houston v. since its passage in 1959. Rutledge.” 1971 1974 1976 1 . § 50-14-1 through § 50-1460). Bradford v. J. Rentz v. Law enforcement records. In fact. * The Court rejected the Sheriff’s argument and the decision of the trial court (Land. 579 (1974) (Jordan. dissented as to other aspects of the decision. * Ingram. Crow v. Brown.D. 457 F.G. 192 (1959) (Head. J. J.A. Rather. Supp. 215 Ga. the Open Records Act has been subject to numerous opinions addressing its scope and application. 1971) (Edenfield. 764 (1976) (Gunter. PLLC lgaither@dowlohnes. 188. City of Moultrie. Election petitions.): * Suit for access to files maintained by the Columbus. 332 F. 1972): * Rejects county’s contention in housing discrimination suit that memoranda written by the county attorney are inadmissible as protected by the attorney-client privilege.) that the Open Records Act make public only papers and records required to be prepared and maintained by statute. § 50-18-70 through § 50-18-76) is an invaluable tool for journalists and citizens seeking to inspect government records in Georgia. and records prepared and maintained in the course of the operation of a public office are “public records.): * Notes that the Open Records Act had not yet been enacted at the time the action was filed. the Open Records Act starts with the presumption that records are “open for a personal inspection by any citizen of this state. J.): * Citizens have a right pursuant to the Open Records Act to view election petitions. J.A. 1959 General. 237 Ga. Ga.

J.. Morton v. § 40-2701 to require the files to be made available for public inspection without further delay.. “the judiciary must balance the interest of the public in favor of inspection against the interest of the public in favor of non-inspection.” The case was remanded to the trial court (Wofford. J. “the burden is cast on the [records’ custodian] to explain why the records should not be furnished. either with or without prosecution by the state. 444 (1978) (Nichols. there is a strong presumption that they should be made available for public inspection immediately. and ordered that the hospital separate the confidential from the nonconfidential information Board of medical examiners records. stating “I would make it clear that. * The Court made clear.” Justice Jordan dissented without opinion. as Justice Ingram had indicated in a concurring opinion in Houston v. J. J. 432 (1978) (Marshall. 2 1978 1979 .* * * * 1978 The Court held that records made and maintained in the course of a pending investigation should not in most instances be available for inspection by the public. Civil investigative records. Ambulance service records. since the files here involved have been determined to be public files.. Skrine. be produced..) to allow it to balance the public interest in disclosure v.) that the information.” If a public official nevertheless refuses to do so. 844 (1979) (Hall. Radio Station WKEU. I believe we have a duty under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Code Ann.” Justice Ingram concurred. unfettered communication and disclosure except where some limitation thereon is required in the public interest. with the exception of patient medical records. Griffin-Spalding County Hospital Authority v. Community Relations Commission.): * Suit by a doctor pursuant to the Open Records Act against the state board of medical examiners for access to the board’s investigatory file on him. J. Northside Realty Associates v.): * Suit by a radio station for access to records relating to a public hospital’s ambulance service. * Court affirmed the order of the trial court (Whalen. [U]nless the sheriff on remand can show some persuasive reason why the files should not now be made available for public inspection.): * Suit for access to records compiled by the Community Relations Commission in the course of conducting a racial discrimination “testing” campaign. “once an investigation is concluded and the file closed. 240 Ga. . 240 Ga. However. nondisclosure.. 242 Ga. that once a request for identifiable public records is made. such public records in most instances should be available for public inspection. Rutledge.” The Court noted that “in our construction of this [the Open Records Act] statute we have attempted to apply First Amendment principles which favor open.

but also to foster confidence in government through openness to the public. Brown v. Sears. withholding only limited records on the ground that they would disclose information regarding on-going investigations. Anderson. 397 (1979) (Undercofler. Privacy interests. J. 243 Ga.). v.” * Justice Jordan. * The Court rejected contentions by the State that the report constituted personnel information and that its disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy.” * Finally. J. 245 Ga. dissented.): * Suit by an Athens newspaper for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to a report commissioned by the vice-president of research and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Georgia. J. On the contrary.) holding that the report was a public record and reversed that portion approving only the release of only an edited version.): * Suit by newspaper editor for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to certain records representing completed investigations by the Internal Investigation Unit of the Atlanta Police Department. The Court held that the entire report was a public record and had to be produced. arguing that “[t]he documents here sought are merely written evaluations or opinions of an outside group of experts. 1979 Law enforcement records.) had properly afforded access to most of the documents.): 3 1980 1980 . Minter. * The Court affirmed that portion of the decision of the trial court (Gaines. Inc. holding that access was prohibited by another law making such medical investigation reports confidential. J. That the information may comment upon certain public officials’ performance of their official duties does not warrant suppression by the courts.* The Court affirmed the trial court (Weltner. the public policy of this state has been clearly expressed by the legislature in adopting the Open Records Act. the Court held that the state’s assertion that “such reports must be protected in order to assure candid assessments by evaluators does not overcome the need for the public to obtain the reported information. * The Court held that the trial court (Fryer. etc.” Housing Authority records. The purpose is not only to encourage public access to such information in order that the public can evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the efficient and proper functioning of its institutions. J. J. 63 (1980) (Undercofler. Until acted on officially by university officials such material does not assume the status of a public ‘record’ or writing. Doe v. * The Court reaffirmed that the burden of justifying non-disclosure is on the government. It stated that the right of privacy does not protect “legitimate inquiry into the operation of a government institution and those employed by it. Athens Observer. 83 (1980) (Nichols. 245 Ga. joined by Justices Bowles and Marshall.

): * Suit by a taxpayer for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to certain tax information on residences adjoining his.) to afford access.* * * Suit by newspaper editor for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to “certain computer printouts kept by the Atlanta Housing Authority as part of its business records. Pensyl v.000 annually. Accordingly. Richmond County Hospital Authority d/b/a University Hospital v. It further held that the “underlying implication” of the Act is that all records are open to inspection unless closed by a “specific exception. J. Southeastern Newspapers Corporation.” Tax records.): * Suit by two newspapers for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to information identifying the names. 19 (1984) (Smith. Hospital Authority of the City of St. J. names and addresses of tenants whose rents were delinquent by less than 6 months. The Court found such speculation clearly insufficient to overcome “the strong public policy of this state in favor of open government. 450 (1984) (Hill.” containing the names. J. sources of income and rents owed by tenants. noting: “The General Assembly has seen fit to exempt intangible personal property and other tax records from the open records law but has not seen fit to exempt ad valorem property tax records. Public hospital records. 252 Ga. J. we hold that each of the tenants impliedly waived whatever constitutional.): * Suit by an employee of a Florida newspaper for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to business telephone records of a public hospital.) to not reveal. addresses. Peach County. * The Court reversed the refusal of the trial court (Scoggin. and job titles of public hospital employees earning more than $28.” 1980 Citizenship requirement. J. J.” The Court found speculative the hospital’s predictions that highly qualified staff would go elsewhere and morale would plummet if salaries were disclosed. salaries. The Court held that the Act clearly applied to the Housing Authority. statutory or common law rights of privacy he may have had in the status of his rental account and the amounts and sources of his income when he allowed his rental account to become unpaid when due. the Court stated that “[t]he public has a legitimate interest in the operation of this institution and the salaries paid to those employed there.” The Court thus held that the printouts were public records.) that the records be disclosed. 494 (1980) (Clarke.) compelling access. The Court rejected the decision of the trial court (Eldridge. We 1984 1984 4 . Mary’s. on grounds of privacy. Atchison v. 252 Ga. * The Court affirmed the order of the trial court (Wilcox. 245 Ga. J. * In affirming the order of the trial court (Fleming. The Court stated: “This court holds today that the general public properly is concerned with whether or not public housing tenants are paying their rentals when due.

): * Suit by the Macon Telegraph for access pursuant to the Open Records Act of records showing the assets.) denying access. [in having] information openly available to them so that they can be confident in the operation of their government. J. 256 Ga.” Athletic association records. J. Barber as Treasurer 5 1986 1986 . reiterating the state’s “strong policy of open government” and the Court’s prior holdings that “information reflecting upon an individual’s performance of official duties would not be exempt from open records.) that the records be produced. Cox Enterprises. and [in insuring] that both the activity of public employees suspected of wrongdoing and the conduct of those public employees who investigate the suspects is open to public scrutiny. the trial court found the public has an interest in learning ‘about the operation and functioning of a public agency. Macon Telegraph Publishing Company v. joined by Justice Smith. J. and the workrelated conduct of public employees.) that the records be disclosed. liabilities. Inc. Law enforcement records. * The Court reversed the order of the trial court (Pierce. “for the reasons set forth in Justice Jordan’s dissent in Athens Observer. In doing so. J.): * Suit by the Macon Telegraph against the Commissioner of Agriculture and the Director of GBI for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to records of GBI investigations concerning the conduct of several employees of the State Farmers’ Market in Macon. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. 443 (1986) (Bell. Harris v. The Court rejected claims that the records were personnel records and that the public interest in non-disclosure outweighed the public interest in disclosure. * The Court affirmed the order of the trial court (Vaughn. namely the State Farmer’s Market at Macon. dissented. the Court agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that “the public has an overriding interest in learning the results of the GBI investigation and the administrative law judge’s review of certain of these results. [in gaining] information [to] evaluate the expenditure of public funds and the functioning of a public institution or agency. Macon Telegraph Publishing Company..” * Justice Marshall. 299 (1986) (per curiam): * Suit by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for access to the GBI’s report on its investigation of the Georgia State Patrol. concluding that “regardless of whether the documents are prepared by employees of a private Athletic Association or by Dr. 253 Ga.* 1984 are unwilling to extend the exemption to tax records which the General Assembly has not seen fit to exclude. income and expenses of the University of Georgia Athletic Association.” Law enforcement records — State patrol ticket-fixing. Specifically. 43 (1984) (Gregory. Irvin v. J. 256 Ga. * The Court affirmed the decision of the trial court (Daniel.” Justice Smith dissented without explanation.

with the exception of confidential evaluations prepared by the Regents and letters of recommendation prepared by third parties. it is clear that they are ‘documents. J. 1989. Napper v. Georgia Television Company. * On March 24. An order entered in a separate. Board of Regents v. 1989) (Sears-Collins. unless the trial court determines that ‘exceptional interests militate in favor of disclosure.2d 1528 (11th Cir. J.’ * Judge Alverson found such exceptional interests on remand and ordered production. J. * On remand. Atlanta Legal Aid v.): * Suit by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for access to records as to candidates being considered by the Regents for the presidency of Georgia State University. Judge Sears-Collins ordered the City to produce the records. (2) 6 1989 1989 . records in local police custody. but held that “the trial court should have deleted from the files information identifying individuals who were investigated but not charged with or prosecuted for a crime. 887 F. as well as information which would prove personally embarrassing to individuals who were not the targets of the investigation.” 1987 Law enforcement records — Wayne Williams files. 1989. WSB and ABC News for access to the City of Atlanta’s investigative files on the Atlanta child murders. The Atlanta Journal & The Atlanta Constitution & Glenn McCutchen.) that the files were public records and should be produced. rejecting the Regents’ contentions (1) that the Board is not subject to the Act. 1989). The Atlanta Journal-Constitution filed an amicus brief on Atlanta Legal Aid’s behalf on April 12. * The Court affirmed the decision of the trial court (Alverson. WSB and ABC News. 257 Ga. * On April 14. 156 (1987) (Marshall. * F. Apr. City of Atlanta. D14722 (Fulton County Superior Court. 214 (1989) (Weltner.B.of that Association. rejecting the City’s claim that since the records were compiled by the City Attorney they were exempt from disclosure as attorney-client privileged. 1989.’ and are therefore ‘public records’ under the Open Records Act.): * Suit by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Judge Alverson also awarded attorney’s fees to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Judge Langham ordered that the records be produced. the Court affirmed Judge Langham’s order. No. with few deletions.): * Suit by Atlanta Legal Aid for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to the City’s records of its investigation of corruption in the City’s housing rehabilitation program. 14. Napper. Attorney-client privilege. 1989. * On April 25. J. federal action preventing disclosure of such records in the City’s files that originated from the FBI was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in United States v. 259 Ga. Public university presidential search records. papers and records prepared and maintained in the course of the operation of a public office.I.

v. This does not mean however that the identity and other information about candidates. dissented. Inc. noting that the Open Records Act exception for confidential evaluations of candidates for public employment and the Open Meetings Act exception for meetings to consider candidates for public employment are in harmony: “What both protect from disclosure is the give and take among decision makers so that they may make candid and difficult comparisons of the qualifications of candidates for public office and employment. .” * Justice Marshall. officials. * On March 14. joined by Justice Smith. for which an indictment against him is outstanding. the trial court held that the Bureau is subject to the Open Records Act because of its public function (promoting tourism and convention business for the City) and because it receives over half of its funds from hotel/motel taxes and ordered the Bureau to disclose records as 7 1989 .* * * * 1989 that all presidential search records are exempt from disclosure as “confidential evaluations. to hold that a person who applies for a public position — to serve the public and to be paid by the public — has the right to keep secret from the public the very existence of such an application. 14.. Parker v. Records of quasi-public entities — The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.” Justice Clarke concurred.. Justice Bell dissented without opinion. J.): * Suit for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to records of The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Lee. 1989) (Eldridge. arguing (1) that the Open Meetings Act exception for meetings to consider candidates for public employment should be read to exclude disclosure under the Open Records Act of any records maintained in connection with a presidential search and (2) that the public interest favored nondisclosure. indeed. emphasizing the statutory mandate that exceptions to the Open Records Act must be construed narrowly.” and (3) that the public interest in nondisclosure of such records outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. No. D63684 (Fulton County Superior Court. 1989. does not justify non-release of records. Mar. 195 (1989) (Bell.” Justice Marshall.” Fact that death row inmate could be tried for alleged rape. The Atlanta Journal & The Atlanta Constitution & Glenn McCutchen. Law enforcement records. joined by Justice Smith. dissented. * The fact that the person requesting the records is a death row inmate is irrelevant. Inc. The Court noted that “it would make for a strange rule. J. and their performance once selected.. There is “no reason to distinguish [a death row inmate’s] (or any other individual citizen’s) right of access from news organizations’ right of access.): * Open Records Act exemption for law enforcement records compiled in a pending investigation applies only when there is an “imminent adjudicatory proceeding[] of finite duration. and employees is exempted. Justice Gregory concurred. 259 Ga.

J. 19. Cook Publishing Company. 757 (1989) (Birdsong. J. The trial court also held that the Bureau is not required to disclose records as to its expenditure of funds received from other sources. No.. J. Child abuse records. J. 1990) (Knight. Belth. * Based upon sheriff’s testimony “that he and his deputies are ready and willing to provide all future incident reports requested. v. 193 Ga. Insurance information. 20. Bryant. Georgia.. W. Apr. throughout the state.) (Fletcher. 259 Ga. with Smith.): * O. R. the trial court ordered the records produced to The Journal-Constitution but ordered the newspaper not to disclose certain identifying information in the records. Hospital accreditation records. 1989. 1990) (Hicks. D-73733 (Fulton County Superior Court. Page Corp. April 10. 1989 1990 1990 1990 8 .): * Access to coroner’s records is governed by the Open Records Act. 260 Ga. CV89162 (Cook County Superior Court.): * Suit for access to records of reports of child abuse and deprivation concerning children who died while under the protection of the State in 1988 and 1989. public and private. * The section overrides the Open Records Act and applies retroactively to documents obtained prior to the section’s effective date. Kilgore v.C. J. * On April 20. J. 1989 Coroner’s inquest. Georgia Hospital Association v. 259 Ga. provided the same was obtained under expectation of privacy by the Association at the time of information release to the Commissioner. Georgia Department of Human Resources. Mar. Ledbetter.1(c) requires withholding from public inspection of any and all information acquired by the Insurance Commissioner from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Evans v. In the fall of 1989. Inc. dissenting): * Declaratory judgment action brought by the Georgia Department of Human Resources for an adjudication of the open records status of DHR records on the accreditation of hospitals.” newspaper’s motion for injunctive relief denied. App.G.A.. Charles W. No.): * Suit against sheriff for access to incident reports. Incident reports.* to its expenditure of these funds. XXX.. J. the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed without opinion. * The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Gwinnett Daily News intervened to seek access and the trial court (Langham. 1990. individually and in his capacity as Sheriff of Cook County. J. The Bureau appealed and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution cross-appealed and the order was stayed pending their outcome. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution and Glenn McCutchen v.) ordered the records opened to the public. § 33-2-8. 477 (1990) (Clarke. 556 (1989) (Weltner.

Dooley v. App.): * Appeal from trial court order denying appellant’s claims that police department had improperly refused to grant him access to investigatory records and seeking copies of those records free of charge based on appellant’s indigence.* The Supreme Court affirmed.) of athletic coaches at the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. 577 (1990) (Weltner.). 1991. Cremins v. 261 Ga. the Court concluded that certain records reflecting the athletically-related “outside” income of University of Georgia athletic coaches were “public records” although they were neither on file with the University nor were they ever seen by the University President. * The Court established that the following categories of records are required to be disclosed under the Act: (1) Records in the hands of employees that pertain to the receipt of athletic equipment and apparel.” 1990-91 Public university coaches income records. 496 (1991) (Fletcher. the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. The Court found that the records were prepared and maintained or received in the course of the operation of the University and Athletic Association because Board of Regents policies and NCAA rules required the coaches to report such income to the President and in some cases required the President’s prior approval of the activity. * On July 3. etc. and (3) Records in the hands of employees that have been prepared for the purpose of complying with reporting requirements relating to specified income.): * Suits involving requests by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for access pursuant to the Open Records Act to records of athletically-related income (shoe contracts. holding that “[t]he public has a legitimate interest in the records which make up the DHR’s hospital licensing decisions. J. J. Davidson and The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. 7 (1991) (Cooper. Fulton Superior Court Judge Frank Hull granted the Newspapers’ motion for summary judgment in an identical case involving athletic coaches at Georgia Tech. * The Court also held that records relating to money received for speaking appearances “unconnected with and not in conflict with the performance of an official duty” are not public records. McBride v. 9 1991 . (2) Records of outside income received in connection with the operation of the university and the [athletic] association. Police investigatory files. Wetherington. * Chief Justice Clarke and Presiding Justice Smith dissented. * After Dooley. radio and television shows. * In Dooley. The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. 199 Ga. J. 260 Ga. Each would limit the definition of “public record” to those required to be maintained by law or those actually on file at the public office or agency.

Any such remedy must come from the General Assembly. “While we understand the potential financial problems that disclosure of the cellular telephone numbers could create. * Notwithstanding that some of the calls made were personal calls for which the public official reimbursed the City.A. there is presently no exemption for such records under the Act. § 50-18-71(c) and that the statute contained no provision for excusal of payment upon filing of a pauper’s affidavit. Dortch v. The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. § 50-1872(a)(4) does not require a police department to turn over investigatory records when there is an ongoing investigation and. 1990. P. this court finds that Mr. less than 24 hours after Brady’s release from a State mental facility where he had been diagnosed as having homicidal tendencies. 260 Ga. the trial court (Sears-Collins. 1990. we cannot say. the Court held that “[e]ven if we were to hold that publication of unlisted telephone numbers involved disclosure of secret or private facts. The court held that O. * On May 1. 261 Ga. the records were later made available.C. J. dissenting): * Suit for access to unredacted copies of City of Atlanta car telephone records. the trial court (per Coursey. concluding that “[b]ased on the limited facts which have been presented.): * Suit by news organizations and the Southeastern Legal Foundation for access to records prepared and maintained or received by the State regarding the commitment. J. The court held that a copying fee of 25 cents per page was allowed by O. 1990.G. that such disclosure would be so offensive or objectionable to a reasonable man as to constitute the tort of invasion of privacy. Southeastern Legal Foundation v. Brady’s 10 1991 . 1991 Car telephone records. the Court held that personal information that is intermingled or co-mingled with official public documents or information that is being maintained by a city agency is subject to disclosure under the Open Records Act.* * The appellate court affirmed. Brady gunned down five persons at random in a major Atlanta metropolitan shopping mall. 350 (1991) (Fletcher.) denied motions for access to the records without prejudice.J.) (Smith and Benham. J. Ledbetter.) ordered the records produced. JJ. treatment and release of James Calvin Brady..” * The Court further held that records reflecting the numbers of the Cityowned cellular telephones must be disclosed notwithstanding the fact that “this could result in increased telephone bills” by virtue of calls made to the cellular phone.G. 803 (1991) (Fletcher. * On September 19. * In response to the City’s claim that some of the telephone numbers of persons on city cellular phones might be unlisted.” Psychiatric records. in any event. diagnosis. On April 24. in the circumstances presented here.A.C.

” The records at issue were subsequently disclosed in the course of the criminal proceedings against Mr. 12. As a result. Pope. a private non-profit corporation which receives over 60% (nearly $6 million) of its annual budget from tax revenues. Apr. but records which were prepared and retained by Spencer Stuart. Attorney’s fees. the Supreme Court. § 37-3-1(2).” On June 13. resumes and vitae of candidates for President of the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. which by law are prohibited or specifically exempted from being open to inspection by the general public. The Court held that the records sought were “clinical records” which are specifically made confidential by the Mental Health Code.) denied renewed motions for access despite public disclosure by Brady’s attorney of portions of the records sought and despite public statements by Brady’s attorney that “Mr. J. the Bureau retained an executive search firm. if any. although disclosed to and utilized by the Bureau members. J. No. J. No. Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Tax appraisals.C.G. per Justice Fletcher. GMS Air Conditioning. the trial court (Castellani.” the trial court (Cummings. profit and loss statements. O. the trial court (Johnson.C. 11 1991 1991 . The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution v.) erred in granting summary judgment for the agency on plaintiff’s attorney’s fees claim. J. affirmed. 201 Ga.* * * 1991 privacy interest in his records outweighs the interest of the public at this time.. § 48-5-314 is not a blanket prohibition against the production pursuant to the Open Records Act of materials held by boards of tax assessors but rather was intended only to protect from disclosure materials. the records are exempt under the Act as “records . 1991) (Alverson. v. Inc. The Newspapers subsequently dismissed the action after enactment of certain revisions to the Act. Executive search records. Brady. 1990.. such as taxpayer accounting records. App. except the return. were not public records. To conduct the search.) issued an order holding that records sent directly to the Bureau were public records. Inc. 1991): * Suit for access to records reflecting the names. Spencer Stuart. violated the Open Records Act by not producing them before the suit was filed and whether the violation.A. Brady is not interested in privacy.A.” On appeal. He wants the world to know. was “completely without merit as to law or fact. * On June 3. D-86301 (Fulton County Superior Court. provided by taxpayers to the tax assessors office.. Inc. 136 (1991) (Pope.): * Held that O.): * Where a case presented factual issues as whether the defendant agency. Georgia Dep’t of Human Resources. 1991.G. Douglas v. though it produced documents plaintiff requested after a lawsuit was filed. at a cost of $30.000. S91A1200 (Ga. and Spencer Stuart and Associates. * Appeal dismissed as premature. J.

depreciation schedules. § was to protect the privacy of individual taxpayers. J. 262 Ga. July 25. balance sheets. * The Court affirmed on appeal holding that the evidence showed “that defendant wrongly planned to charge plaintiff for attorney time required to review the requested documents for information exempt from disclosure. 1991 1992 12 .): * District Administrative Judge of the Fifth Judicial District and Chief Judge of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit (Eldridge. No. Eldridge. The request was made more than 10 days after the complaint had been filed with the City. aff’d. sum. J. Camden Newspapers. “The purpose of the confidentiality provisions of O.C. The trial court held that such a charge was not permitted under the Act. District Attorney or Solicitor General acting in their official capacities. J. 1991. and methods of assessing property. 20. 200 Ga. their activities. Mary’s v.A. 1991). The City of St. 91V0420 (Superior Court of Camden County.) lacked authority to issue an order interpreting the Open Records Act as not permitting a private citizen to swear out an arrest warrant against a public official for violation of the Act and ordering all judicial officers and judges in the District and Circuit to refrain from issuing any such arrest warrant to any individual other than the Attorney General. Aug.) held that the complaint was not exempt from disclosure since the complaint had been presented more than 10 days previously and the City’s investigation had terminated.G. J. Jersawitz v. and like materials. Martin. (Ga.): * Suit for access to bills for legal services performed for and paid by Clayton County. * The trial court (Taylor. not to protect the board of tax assessors and its agents from public scrutiny as to their procedures. The trial court corrected this violation by ruling plaintiff could not be charged for that service since it is not a charge authorized under OCGA § 50-18-71. 435 (1991) (Pope. App.” Attorney’s fees awarded to plaintiff. Complaints concerning agency employees. Defendant county finance director attempted to charge plaintiff for the cost of attorney time spent reviewing the bills for exempt information. Charges for agency attorney time spent reviewing Open Records Act requests. Nor was the complaint protected from disclosure by virtue of privacy interests asserted either by the council member or the complaining employee. Trammell v.* * 1991 income and expense statements. Criminal enforcement.): * Suit for access to complaint filed by City employee complaining of harassment by City council member.” * The Court also held that agencies must use the most “economical means available for providing copies of public records” and remanded the case for a determination of whether the county had done so. 19 (1992) (Bell.

J.G. § 50-18-71 when a citizen seeks only to inspect records that are routinely subject to public inspection. Inc. J. 342 (1992) (Hunt. 262 Ga.C. v. the Court held that “any fee imposed pursuant to O. Rives.C. Denial of relief by the trial court reversed. or “state matters of which the policy of the state and the interest of the community require concealment.G.A. § 32-3-7(a) provides that DOT “acquires” property as soon as it files a declaration of taking.) that “Engineer’s Cost Estimate” documents generated by the Department of Transportation as part of the process of evaluating bids for work on Savannah’s Talmadge Memorial Bridge were exempt from disclosure under the Open Records Act as “secrets of state. § 50-18-71 constitutes a burden on the public’s right of access to public records. * The Court held that O. Thus.G.C. McFrugal Rental of Riverdale.A. such as deeds.” “Secrets of State” exemption.G. 262 Ga.C.” O. dissented. As we construe the statute. challenged city manager’s imposition of a fee to cover the cost of a temporary employee to supervise the inspection. J.C. the imposition of a fee is allowed only when the citizen seeking access requests copies of documents or requests action by the custodian that involves an unusual administrative cost or burden.G. § 32-3-7 should not be read to require DOT to disclose matters in condemnation proceedings that it would not ordinarily have to disclose in discovery. J. a fee may not be imposed under O. § 50-18-72(a)(6) does not require such records to be disclosed until after the condemnation proceedings conclude and DOT has acquired the property. Georgia Dep’t of Transportation.A.G. 262 Ga. * Emphasizing the importance of public access to government information.” The Court agreed that “the public interest in exempting engineering cost estimates from disclosure until projects are completed or abandoned 13 1992 1992 . Reversed. § 24-9-27(d).): * Appeal from ruling of trial court (Langham. Therefore. Further the custodian of the records must bear the burden of demonstrating the reasonableness of any fee imposed.C. city zoning maps and ordinances.1992 Property appraisals. The Court also held that O. Garr.C. which sought to inspect city council minutes.A. city ordinances or zoning maps. 369 (1992) (Clarke. the statute must be narrowly construed. Fees. Hardaway Co.G.): * Open Records Act plaintiff. * The Court emphasized that “any purported statutory exemption from disclosure under the Open Records Act must be narrowly construed.A.A.): * Appeal from trial court’s denial of Open Records Act request by plaintiff to inspect appraisals of his property in connection with DOT’s efforts to condemn. 631 (1992) (Bell. joined by Justice Sears-Collins.A. v. Black v.” O. * Justice Weltner. arguing that the clear wording of O. § 24-9-21(4).

consistent with past precedent.): * Appeal from ruling of trial court (Ison. J. J. Red & Black Publishing Company v. joined by Justice Hunt. d/b/a Southern Bell v. 262 Ga.): * Appeal from ruling of trial court (Hull.) that records of the University of Georgia Student Organization Court must be disclosed to the public pursuant to the Open Records Act but that the Court’s disciplinary hearings are not subject to the Open Meetings Act. Affirmed in part. but also to maintain the public’s confidence in its officials. 693 (1993) (Andrews. Webb. J. * The Court of Appeals held that the Act applies to records of private entities when such entities function “under the direction and control of [a hospital authority] to implement the [authority’s] duty to provide for the public health. Nevertheless. BellSouth Telecommunications. 848 (1993) (Hunt.” 262 Ga. Board of Regents. App.* outweighs the public interest in favor of disclosure. Records of private entities acting under agency direction and control. J. Alleged trade secrets submitted to agency. The balancing test which the special concurrence urges us to apply was expressly limited by Board of Regents to instances where individual privacy rights were involved.” Justice Fletcher. Citing the fact that assets of the CCHA had been transferred to some of the corporations and the fact that all of the records were in the possession or control of the CCHA. concurred specially. aff’d without opinion (Ga. * The Court concluded that both the records and the disciplinary hearings of the Student Organization Court must be open to the public: “We are mindful that openness in sensitive proceedings is sometimes unpleasant. not only to protect against potential abuses. reversed in part. difficult.) ordering Clayton County Hospital Authority (CCHA) and five affiliated corporations to produce records under the Open Records Act. Georgia Public Service Commission.). 16. Apr.” * The Court held that the disputed records — relating primarily to transfers of funds from the CCHA to five private affiliated corporations and to transfers of funds between any of those corporations — are public records. Clayton County Hospital Authority v.” but concluded. at 854. J. 1993) (Eldridge. and occasionally harmful. the Court found that the “private status” alone of the corporations did not insulate them from the strictures of the Open Records Act. Inc.): 14 1993 1993 . that the Court does not “have the discretion to judicially craft such an exemption.. concluding that a balancing was appropriate but weighed in favor of disclosure as construction had been completed. the policy of this state is that the public’s business must be open. No. E-7376 (Fulton County Superior Court. 206 Ga. 1993 Public university student disciplinary court records.

) of criminal defendant’s request for the production of investigative notes pertaining to his case. State. Television on grounds that party seeking production of files in Napper was not defendant and so did not have habeas proceeding available. C. After murder conviction was upheld by Georgia Supreme Court. Trial court (McWhorter. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.) held that personnel records held by a 1993 1994 1994 15 . accident reports. appellant sought district attorney’s files relating to his prosecution pursuant to the Open Records Act.): * Suit for access to personnel records of certain City of Atlanta school bus drivers. 214 Ga.. 263 Ga. Police investigatory notes. J. 212 Ga. but not all. J. Madison. The court also found that Southern Bell had a property interest in the “trade secrets” and that the PSC was further prohibited under the requirements of the United States Constitution from publicly disclosing the documents. Ga. * The Court concluded that petition for writ of mandamus was premature since appellant still had alternative legal remedy available to him in a habeas proceeding. Trial court (Smith. The court determined that the Georgia Trade Secrets Act and the Georgia Open Records Act together required that the PSC not disclose the documents to the public.) dismissed action as moot based on defendant’s having turned over requested records. 17 (1994) (Smith. Zant. 263 Ga. Mootness. Supreme Court affirmed. 481 (1994) (Birdsong. App. Hall v.) denied writ of mandamus without findings or conclusions. Conklin v. Hackworth v.J.* * Appeal from administrative determination by Georgia Public Service Commission that Southern Bell must provide certain documents pursuant to a PSC order and that PSC would not agree to maintain documents confidential. Privately held records. Lebis v. J.J. * Supreme Court reversed because evidence showed only that appellees had turned over some. 1993 District attorney work product. J. 165 (1993) (Carley. The Court expressly distinguished Napper v. Trial court concluded that Southern Bell had demonstrated that documents constituted “trade secrets” and that PSC was obligated to maintain their confidentiality.): * Appeal from denial of death row inmate’s request for writ of mandamus. App. J. J. Trial court (Daniel. P. Board of Education for the City of Atlanta. and McMurray. J. 73 (1993) (Hunstein.): * Appeal from denial by trial court (Pannell. J. of the records requested by appellant. with Pope. stating without analysis that investigative notes are “`notes’ not `reports’“ and cannot be classified as “police arrest reports. or incident reports” subject to the Open Records Act.): * Appellant brought suit seeking order compelling appellees to allow him to inspect and copy certain records pursuant to the Open Records Act.

Ga.” Rape incident reports. 1994).” the records were public records despite the fact that they were not physically in the possession of the city. 1994) (Hall. 264 Ga. and he claimed that refusing to allow him to continue to peruse those records violated his First Amendment rights. the plaintiff had used the records to solicit clients for his legal practice. Doe v. § 35-1-9.G. J.C. * On remand from the Eleventh Circuit. 1010 (11th Cir. J.” Citing Dortch v. which prohibits the inspection or copying of law enforcement agency records for the purpose of commercial solicitation.D. 1294 (N. Hicks. The court specifically rejected the state’s argument that the statute advanced the substantial interest of “protecting people’s privacy. requiring that means of access must be addressed by the General Assembly. sought by The 16 1994 1994 .” Speer v. the district court held that O. App.” According to the court. Miller. J.): * Suit for permanent injunction by criminal defense attorney preventing enforcement of O. § 35-1-9 violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutional because it does not directly advance a substantial state interest.3d 1007. but the Eleventh Circuit reversed.) of plaintiff’s request for on-line computer access to the Fulton County real estate deed records: “While we are mindful that the prevalence of computers in homes. Supp. Online computer access. Board of Regents.): * The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the denial by the trial court (Langham. concluding that. The trial court had initially denied plaintiff’s challenge. 553 (1994) (Hunstein. Jersawitz v. 215 Ga. The court of appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. that effect is “so riddled with exceptions that the statute’s ability to advance the asserted purpose is anemic and betrays a true alternative purpose” (preventing solicitation). 1994 Commercial solicitation. Atlanta Journal.): * Trial court refused to issue injunction sought by university employee enjoining disclosure of a university police incident report.G. Prior to passage of § 35-1-9.A. J.C. ruling that “a mere reading of this statute indicates that it probably impinges upon Speer’s commercial speech. Speer v. 15 F. 684 (1994) (en banc) (Beasley. 261 Ga. The court remanded the decision to the trial court to determine whether any of the records are exempt from disclosure based on concerns of “personal privacy. because the city’s contract with the transit company allowed the city to review the records and because the operation of buses is a “legitimate function of the school board and within the operation of a public agency.* * privately-owned transit company that contracts with the city to provide drivers were not public records. offices and schools may make on-line access to computerized public records desirable. 864 F.A. Miller. 350 (1991). the court instructed the trial court to order disclosure of all records unless disclosure would constitute the tort of invasion of privacy.

. J. J. * Supreme Court affirmed in all respects.): * Appeal from order of trial court (Williams. 218 Ga. regarding the employee’s claim that she had been abducted and raped on the university campus by an unknown assailant. J. Bowers v.. Court of Appeals held that pursuant to the Open Records Act the newspaper is entitled to the requested report but. Police incident reports. and the right to know who falsely complained. 265 Ga.. City of Brunswick v. § 16-6-23(a) “does not cover an admittedly false allegation of rape. * Cross-appeal by The Journal-Constitution and The Times-Union challenging the trial court’s conclusion that incident reports can ever be protected and that it was proper to hear City’s witnesses ex parte. with the university employee’s name and identifying information redacted. 413 (1995) (Carley. the trial court had initially refused to order production. For these reasons. Northwest Georgia Health System.): * Affirming order of trial court (Jenrette. J. pursuant to O. v. J.A. and Ruffin.. and based upon an ex parte presentation by the City. Shelton.A.” Blackburn. J. Times-Journal. 336 (1995) (McMurray. writes that “I join Judge Andrews in concluding that appellant has lost any right she would otherwise have had to keep her identity from being disclosed because of her admitted fabrications and the superior right of the public to know of the falsity of her original complaint. § 16-6-23(a).C. J. It is undisputed that the incident investigated by the campus police did not occur.G.C.* * Red & Black. Birdsong.. However. J. Andrews. J.) requiring City to disclose serial rape incident reports despite City’s professed concern that doing so would hamper investigation and pose risk to victims’ safety. 1995 1995 17 . App. Andrews.” 1995 Tax information. 265 Ga.) holding that combinations of private hospitals and public hospital authorities are subject to the provisions of the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. Hospital authorities.G. 247 (1995) (Thompson. J. concluding that portions of incident reports may be exempted from disclosure to the extent they contain confidential information otherwise exempted from disclosure under the Act.): * Appeal from order of trial court (Hines. Inc. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Florida Times-Union. dissent from the Court’s decision to authorize redaction of any part of the report. the trial court reversed itself and ordered production after the Times-Union published an article disclosing certain facts relating to the incidents.) entering permanent injunction pursuant to Open Records Act preventing Attorney General from disclosing confidential tax information contained in closed criminal investigation file. J. J.. Blackburn. Inc. writes that O..


Court of Appeals affirmed, stating that “[w]ithout question, these private, nonprofit corporations became the vehicle through which the public hospital authorities carried out their official responsibilities.”


Fees. Powell v. Von Canon, 219 Ga. App. 840 (1996) (Johnson, J.): * Appeal from order of trial court (Wood, J.) holding that defendant government officials are limited to charging only the actual cost of computer disk or tape onto which requested information is transferred and, after the first quarter hour of work, only the hourly wage of the lowest paid full-time employee capable of overseeing or performing transfer. * Court of Appeals affirmed as to all defendants except clerk of superior court on ground that superior court clerks are authorized by O.C.G.A. § 15-6-96 to sell computer generated records for a profit. 911 incident cards. The Bainbridge Post Searchlight, Inc. v. Decatur County, No. 96-V-302 (Decatur County Superior Court, Sept. 10, 1996) (Cato, J.): * Action to require county to make available for public inspection 911 incident cards completed by 911 dispatchers for the purpose of registering, dispatching and preserving information from callers that is necessary or important for an appropriate emergency agency to effectively respond to the emergency. * Held that 911 incident cards are equivalent to initial police incident reports and must be made open for inspection by the public at reasonable times at the 911 facility where the cards are kept. Settlement agreements. City of Helen v. White County News, No. 96-CV-409DB (White County Superior Court, Oct. 7, 1996) (Barrett, J.): * Action for access to documents relating to settlement of former police chief’s civil rights action against city. * Held that “[c]onsistent with the public policy of the Open Records Act, the public has a right to know the terms of a settlement agreement in which a public entity has settled a lawsuit” and that “the nondisclosure provisions of the Settlement Agreement ... are void as against the public policy of the State of Georgia.” The court rejected the city’s contention that disclosure would be improper because “a right of privacy may exist on behalf of those individuals in the underlying lawsuit.” District Attorney records. Felker v. Lukemire, 267 Ga. 296 (1996) (Thompson, J.): * Action by death row inmate for access to district attorney’s records on prosecution. After hearing and production of additional records, trial court found that the district attorney had complied with inmate’s request and denied relief. * The Supreme Court affirmed, finding that “the district attorney fully complied with his obligations under the Act. And he had no reason to suspect that he did not comply.”






Inmate appeals. Hall v. Linahan, 225 Ga. App. 439 (1997) (McMurray, J.): * Appeal by state prison inmate of trial court order concerning inmate’s Open Records Act requests. * Because inmate was currently in the custody of Department of Corrections, held that appeal was controlled by Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1996, O.C.G.A. § 42-12-1 et seq., and, because no application for discretionary review had been filed, had to be dismissed. Child abuse records. In re Hansen, No. 165958 (Fulton County Juvenile Court, Nov. 14, 1997) (Hatchett, J.): * Granting access pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 49-5-41(B) to records of Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Family and Children Services, of all Georgia children who died between January 1, 1993 and August 31, 1997 and had been reported previously to state protective service workers. Privacy of public employees. Chatham County v. Adventure Radio Group, et al., Case No. CV97-1406-FR (Eastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court, Dec. 22, 1997) (Freesemann, J.): * Denying request of county and certain county employees to redact the names of certain county employees who were the subject of tape-recorded derogatory remarks by senior police officials. “The Court sympathizes with the female employees who desire to keep their names secreted. Unfortunately, however, these women have, albeit unwillingly, become figures in a public drama. Therefore, dissemination of information pertaining to this drama is no violation of their right to privacy.” * Granting request of Savannah Morning News and WSAV-TV for injunction requiring access. Motor vehicle accident reports. Statewide Detective Agency v. Zell Miller, 115 F. 3d 904 (11th Cir. 1997) (Barkett, J.): * A private detective agency filed suit against the Governor and the Attorney General of Georgia, seeking to enjoin enforcement of statute criminalizing request for motor vehicle accident reports for commercial solicitation purposes. * Affirming the District Court preliminary injunction order, the 11th Circuit Court held that the statute represented an unconstitutional restraint of commercial speech. Investigatory report concerning sexual harassment. Fincher v. State, 231 Ga. App. 49 (1998) (Ruffin, J.): * Pursuant to the Open Records Act, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles of Georgia released to a local television station an investigatory report concerning claims that one of its employees had sexually harassed a coworker. The employee sued claiming invasion of privacy. * Affirming the dismissal, the Court of Appeals found that the report was a public record not subject to any exemptions under the Georgia Open






Records Act. The Court further found that the public interest in obtaining the report outweighs any private interest. 1999 Settlement records. Savannah College of Art and Design v. School of Visual Arts Inc., 270 Ga. 791 (1999) (Hunstein, J): * Appeal concerning public access to court records in a civil case. The trial court ordered that confidential settlement documents filed with a discovery motion should be open because the plaintiff failed to meet its burden in limiting access. The Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the plaintiff’s privacy interest in the documents clearly outweighed the public’s interest in access. Discovery procedures considered adequate legal remedy. Millar v. Fayette County Sheriff's Dept., 241 Ga. App. 659 (1999) (Blackburn, J.): * Attorney's action against county and county sheriff under Georgia's Open Records Act, seeking injunction requiring them to turn over certain public records relating to his client's federal action against them, was premature; when request for injunction was made, attorney retained adequate legal remedy, namely right to seek defendants' records through discovery procedures in his federal action. Eldridge and Barnes, J.J. concurring. Verbal requests for records. Howard v. Sumter Free Press, Inc., 272 Ga. 521 (2000) (Hines, J.): * Sheriff’s contention that he was not required to comply with verbal requests by the press for access to public records, but only to “bona fide” written requests, was unavailing. Verbal requests do not diminish their efficacy under the Open Records Act. Records versus information. Schulten v. Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, 272 Ga. 725 (2000) (Carley, J.): * Law firm filed writ of mandamus to compel hospital to permit inspection and copying of records since 1995. Court denied relief, because request would violate Open Records Act by requiring hospital to compile and prepare reports that were not yet in existence. * Failure by hospital to furnish non-existent records does not constitute a denial of a request for access to public records. Trade secrets. Georgia Dep’t of Natural Resources et al. v. Theragenics Corp., 273 Ga. 724 (2001) (Carley, J.): * Trade secrets exception to disclosure under the Act not expressly limited to documents specifically identified as confidential at time of submission to agency. * Because Act places ultimate responsibility for non-disclosure on agency, agency cannot construe submitter’s failure to identify all trade secrets at time of original filing as waiver of confidentiality.







Internet access. J.K. Champion, M.D. v. State, Civil Action File No. 2000CV26375 (Fulton Superior, Apr. 9, 2001) (Goger, J.): * Trial court dismissed complaint for injunction to prevent continued public Internet access to the fact that plaintiff doctor had entered into a disciplinary consent order with the State Board of Medical Examiners, holding, inter alia, that Act mandated access. Motor vehicle records. Spottsville v. Barnes, 135 F. Supp. 2d 1316 (N.D. Ga. 2001) (Thrash, Jr., J.): * Challenge to 1999 amendment to the Open Records Act that restricts disclosure of motor vehicle accident reports to certain designated groups of persons including the media. The amendment was upheld and found not to be an unconstitutional prior restraint on commercial speech. Police reports concerning rape. Dye v. Wallace, 274 Ga. 257 (2001) * Trial court held that Georgia’s Rape Confidentiality Statute, which made it unlawful for the media to identify rape victims, was unconstitutional. * Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the media can publish information from police reports that are lawfully obtained. Court records filed under seal. Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc., 184 F. Supp. 2d 1353 (N.D. Ga. 2002) (O’Kelley, J.): * Holding that records filed under seal in support of the parties’ respective summary judgment motions must be unsealed. There was no third party request to unseal the records. Rather, the decision was in response to the Court’s order directed to the parties to show cause why the records should remain under seal. * The Court held that documents filed under seal in connection with a dispositive motion in a civil case may remain sealed only if the party seeking closure can show good cause that outweighs the public’s interest in dissemination. * The Court did allow two depositions to remain under seal finding that the plaintiff showed that good cause exists because the documents contained trade secrets. Income tax records of individual who received government contract. City of Atlanta v. Corey Entertainment , Inc., 278 Ga. 474 (2004) (Fletcher, J.): * Holding that Georgia’s Open Records Act requires the disclosure of the tax returns of an individual who won a government contract for her business based on that fact that she successfully applied for status as a “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.” * The Court rejected the individual’s claim that her privacy interests outweighed the public interest in disclosure, finding that there is “a strong need for open government to prevent the appearance of impropriety and corruption in the certification process” for “disadvantaged” businesses.







The Court also found that the income tax return was not a “personal net worth statement” or “documentation supporting it,” which would have been exempt from disclosure under federal regulations.


Housing Authority records. Strange v. Housing Auth. of City of Summerville, 268 Ga. App. 403 (2004) (Barnes, J.): * The Housing Authority filed suit seeking, inter alia, to enjoin Appellants from making future open records requests on the Authority. Appellants had made several open records requests in the past. * Appellants filed a counterclaim alleging that the Authority violated the Open Records Act. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Authority on the counterclaim, holding that it was rendered moot when the Authority amended its complaint to withdraw its injunction request. * The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the counterclaim was not moot because the Authority also had failed to provide documents in response to Appellants’ open records requests and, therefore, could still be liable under the Open Records Act. State insurance commissioner records. Hoffman v. Oxendine, 268 Ga. App. 316 (2004) (Phipps, J.): * The Court held that it was an abuse of discretion by the state Insurance Commissioner to withhold reports regarding the investigation of an insurer. * The Court found that the Insurance Commissioner could not rely on authority and/or reasons to deny disclosure that were not stated in his response to the Open Records request. * Here, the Insurance Commissioner failed to cite the “pending investigation” exception to the Open Records Act in his response to the request; therefore, the Court held that the trial court erred in permitting the Commissioner to use this argument in denying disclosure. Police records — Private university police force. The Corporation of Mercer University v. Barrett & Farahany, LLP, 271 Ga. App. 501 (2005) (Johnson, J.) (Ruffin, C.J. and Barnes, J., concurring), cert. denied, 2005 Ga. LEXIS 392 (Ga. May 23, 2005): * Suit by law firm against Mercer University for access to records maintained and generated by the Mercer University Police Department. * The Court reversed the decision of the trial court (McConnell, J.) that the records be produced, holding that a police force hired by a private university is not a public office or agency just because it performs certain functions authorized by the State by statute. * The Court also held that the police force did not receive or maintain documents in the performance or service of a function on behalf of a public office or agency, because evidence showed that the police force worked solely for Mercer University. The fact that the police force was required to report gang activity to local law enforcement was irrelevant.




* * 2005

Simply performing some task or function with an indirect public benefit, or with benefit to the public as a whole, does not transform a private entity’s records into public records. Purpose of Open Records Act would not be furthered by compelling disclosure of records in this case.

Attorney’s fees and procedure — Petitioner should follow up after receiving response to ORA request before rushing to sue for attorney’s fees. Everett v. Rast, 272 Ga. App. 636 (2005) (Miller, J.): * The Court affirmed the decision of the trial court denying Everett’s motion for attorney’s fees and expenses, holding that the city had not failed to produce records without substantial justification. Rather, the city indicated that it would comply and that documents in addition to those in its possession “may or may not” be in the possession of various city departments. * Everett improperly rushed to litigation instead of contacting the city after it responded that it would provide documents. Attorney’s fees and procedure — Custodian of records must affirmatively respond to ORA request within 3 business days. Wallace v. Greene County, 274 Ga. App. 776 (2005) (Bernes, J.): * The Court reversed and remanded the decision of the trial court denying Wallace’s motion for summary judgment on attorney’s fees, holding that the county violated the Open Records Act by not affirmatively responding to Wallace’s request within 3 business days. Thus, Wallace met first prong of test for attorney’s fees. * Court remanded on unresolved issue of whether Wallace had shown that county lacked substantial justification for the violation, the second prong of test for attorney’s fees. Private entities as vehicles for public agencies due to involvement of public officials. Baker v. Metropolitan Atlanta Chamber of Commerce et al., 2005-cv105088, Nov. 17, 2005 Order (Johnson, J.), currently on appeal: * Suit by Attorney General and newspaper for access to NASCAR Hall of Fame and Super Bowl bids submitted and maintained by private entities. * The Court held that records maintained by private entities related to the bids were subject to Open Records Act because public officials and their pledges of political and financial support were “absolutely necessary” to the possible success of the bids. * The bids were received in the course of the operation of a public office because the private entities needed the public officials and acted with their full knowledge and acquiescence. * Certain exceptions under the statute protecting bids from disclosure did not apply here. Records of bids for Atlanta to host NASCAR Hall of Fame and Super Bowl. Central Atlanta Progress, Inc. v. Baker, 278 Ga. App. 733 (2006) (Johnson, J.): 23




public officials and employees participated in preparing them.): * County failed to respond to a records request within three days of receiving it. Court affirms trial court’s decision. and explaining that the “trial court did not err in concluding that the contractors presented evidence that the information derived economic value from not being generally known or readily ascertainable to others. v. and it did not have a substantial justification for its omission. they called for the future use of substantial public resources. * Court affirms trial court. finding that the exception to the Act for trade secrets.G. E.. * Court affirms trial court’s denial of summary judgment. The Attorney General issued an opinion that “in light of the significant involvement of public officials.” but the corporations still refused.* * * Two private corporations. The Act “must be broadly construed to effect its purposes. explaining that because the county did not produce the documents until after the civil litigation commenced. Benefit Support. 546 (2006) (Barnes.A. public resources and public funds in the matters.” 2006 Attorney’s fees and procedure — Summary Judgment improper when evidence shows that records custodian failed to respond to ORA request within 3 business days. “and because the county has further failed to explain this dilatory conduct in any evidence submitted with its summary judgment motion. J. App. Douglas Asphalt Company v.” Trade-secrets exception to ORA. submitted bids for Atlanta to host the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the 2009 Super Bowl. Snell Contractor. 2006 24 . Trial court denied the county’s request for summary judgment on this claim. finding that both prongs of the test set forth in Wallace were satisfied: the county missed the threeday deadline.R. Inc. and requester sued for attorney’s fees for failing to comply with the Georgia Open Records Act. the bids were subject to the [Act] and should be disclosed. 281 Ga. 825 (2006) (Blackburn. but corporations refused. App. and no substantial justification exists for not doing so. and newspaper requested copies of the bids under the Georgia Open Records Act. Hall County. and. 282 Ga. which could give asphalt company a competitive advantage. applies.): * Trial court enjoined DOT from giving unredacted copies of certain records to asphalt company because the records contained contractors’ trade secrets. J. this did not transform the confidential. O. § 50-18-72(b)(1). technical specifications of the product’s design into public property. Inc. The superior court agreed and ruled for the newspaper. composed of Atlanta-area businesses.C. arguing that the bids were not subject to the Act because they were not prepared by or on behalf of public agencies.” Court also holds that although the product was sold in public places. explaining that the bids involved the use of public funds. some evidence shows that the county’s violation lacked substantial justification. public employees.

22. Smith v. Ga. No. 259 (2007) (Adams. 3:05-CV-31(CDL). thus court’s decision granting full requested relief was improper. Mar. but superior court had not ordered the seal be lifted. 288 Ga.): * Injunction proper to Georgia Secretary of State to prevent public from obtaining election data. Griffin Industries. 2007 WL 917291 (M. thus Department did not have adequate notice of hearing on merits of ultimate issue.A.” Though copy of CD could be provided without this security information.” Court explains that information that must be submitted in conjunction with government contracts is “required by law” as that phrase is used in O. so it falls within exemption for “material which if made public could compromise security against sabotage.A. 2007): * Open Records Act requests relating to potential abuse and 25 2007 2007 . government need not create this since it was not in existence at the time of the request. DeKalb County. J. Secretary of State sought TRO to prevent this. they were required by law to submit the information to the DOT before starting or continuing work. Georgia Department of Agriculture v. Because the CD is statutorily designated to be kept under seal. * Only notice in record was of case management conference. or terroristic acts. § 9-10-2(1) that merits of Open Records Act request were going to be considered by court. * Lower court granted TRO and permanent injunction preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing election CDs because it found Georgia law required CD’s to remain under seal for at least 24 months following election unless otherwise directed by superior court. 2007 Access to Election Materials.C. it is exempt from records open to public inspection. several witnesses testified that once they entered those contracts.” Director notified Secretary of State of request and that she intended to release the records. Moore v. App.G.): * Department did not receive adequate notice in accordance with O. 574 (2007) (Ellington. § 50-18-72(b)(1).G.D. Gabriel. * Injunction is also proper because CD contains security information that could compromise election security. 284 Ga. Open Records Act requests regarding government wrongdoing. * Individual submitted Georgia Open Records Act request to director of elections seeking CD containing “all ballot images and ballot styles as well as vote totals and a copy of the consolidated returns from the election management system. J. criminal. App.* Court rejects asphalt company’s contention that trade-secret exception was not satisfied because the contractors were not required by law to submit the information to the DOT. Notice where State (or its agency) is a party. and only pending motion was for temporary relief.C. “While it is true that the contractors were not required by law to enter into contracts with the state.

Court of Appeals noted that statutory exemptions to the Open Records Act must be narrowly construed.” set forth in O. 284 Ga. which protects from disclosing records revealing home address of law enforcement officers. Although investigation was inactive. Chisolm v. Pending investigations and three-day response requirement. which has not yet resulted in a prosecution. Unified Gov’t of Athens-Clarke County v.A. (concurring in part and dissenting in part) disagreed with majority’s analysis of “pending investigation” exemption and stated that exemption should only apply to those investigations and prosecutions being “actively. LLC. Athens Newspapers. 26 2008 2008 . * Georgia Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals holding and held that the investigation remained “pending” and thus subject to the Open Records Act exemption. § 50-18-72(a)(4). 2008 Open Records Act does not excuse improper service. * Court rejects this argument explaining that Open Records Act does not excuse failure to perfect service in accordance with Georgia law.G. * Georgia Supreme Court approved of Court of Appeals’ interpretation of three-day response requirement in O. finding the exception unsatisfied because evidence showed there had been no progress in solving the case for several years and because there was no ongoing. active investigation.” Open Records Act Does Not Permit Recovery of Damages.C. remains undecided and therefore remains “pending” until it is concluded and the file is closed.C. * Hunstein. 192 (2008) (Carley. Wiley. * Trial court granted summary judgment for county finding the records exempt because they fell within exemption for “pending investigations.G. Melton v. * Appellate court reversed. validated substitute service crafted by process server who served someone other than defendant at defendant’s place of business. the investigatory file had not been closed. 262 Fed. 921 (11th Cir. a prosecution is pending until a conviction has been reviewed on direct appeal and no further direct litigation of an imminent nature and finite duration remains. definitely and imminently pursued.): * Newspaper filed suit against county claiming it violated Open Records Act by refusing access to police records of unsolved rape and murder case from 1992. J. § 50-18-70(f) as requiring response within three business days of agency receiving request irrespective of when specific person at agency in charge of records receives request. J. * Georgia Supreme Court held that for purposes of the Open Records Act exemption. Appx.A. Similarly. 2008) (per curiam): * Plaintiff claimed Open Records Act.mismanagement by government are protected First Amendment speech because this is of core public interest. a seemingly inactive investigation.

was insufficient in that City did not cite subsection and paragraph relied upon. but only because it received anonymous complaints. Court also noted that City’s citation to O. interview notes. App.): * Law firm filed suit against Fulton DeKalb Hospital Authority pursuant to Open Records Act seeking disclosure of records generated during internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. 289 Ga. J. Health.G.A. 2008 Records Generated During Internal Investigation of Sexual Misconduct Were Subject to Disclosure and Were Not Work Product. App. City of Marietta. including tape-recorded interviews. Miller & Billips. § 50-18-72. App. United Healthcare of Georgia. 84 (2008) (Bernes.): * Property owners filed suit against City for refusing to disclose records regarding unfinished construction on their property for which building permit had been revoked and which was subject to Municipal Court demolition action. v.G. Court remanded case to trial court to determine whether attorney’s fees were warranted under O. and instead did not reference specific Act provision until summary judgment. § 50-18-72(a)(4) because City failed to specify this reason in its initial response to Open Records Act request.A. * Appellate court affirmed. Fulton DeKalb Hospital Auth.A. v. * Following in camera review. finding that investigation was a routine inquiry in response to complaints and was not conducted in anticipation of litigation.C. § 50-18-73(b).C.G.Tippens. Trade Secrets Exemption. 601 (2008) (Johnson.C. J. 294 Ga.): * Private party contracted with Georgia Department of Community Health (“DCH”) to serve as third-party administrator for administration of State 27 2008 2008 . 757. * Appellate court vacated trial court’s grant of summary judgment for City where record showed that City violated Open Records Act by failing to respond to request within three business days and rejected argument that property owners’ action was moot because City had eventually provided requested records. trial court rejected work product claim and ordered disclosure of records despite involvement of legal department in investigation. * Court rejected City’s attempt to rely on “pending investigation or prosecution of criminal or unlawful activity” exemption under O. App. Georgia Dep’t of Cmty. Public Agency Must Raise Specific Exemption in Initial Response to Requesting Party. Jaraysi v. Inc. Documents Held By Private Entity Performing Public Function. J. finding that Authority had commenced investigation not in response to any claim or threat of litigation. and investigator’s final report to the General Counsel on the basis of the work product doctrine. 762 (2008) (Mikell. 6 (2008) (Mikell. without more. Authority had refused to produce certain records. 293 Ga.): * Noting in dicta that Open Records Act does not permit recovery of compensatory or punitive damages. J. 293 Ga.

A.Org.C. v.2d 635 (2009) (Benham. 285 Ga.A. O. 2008) (Faircloth. Dec..): * Court held that appellant’s right to privacy was not violated when her personnel documents were released by her manager pursuant to the Open Records Act.* * * * 2008 Health Benefit Plan.G. 882. Morris. Following Open Records Act request to DCH.): * Court declined jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ Open Records Act claims. No. 30.C. Inc. 2009 WL 5033444 (N.Ga. O. Ga. Appellant’s privacy claim.C. § 50-18-72(b)(1) (rejecting the trial court’s holding on this point) because private entity had submitted documents to DCH pursuant to contractual obligation. private party filed suit seeking to enjoin disclosure of certain documents relating to its contract with DCH.. 2009) (Thrash. Rejecting public policy argument in favor of disclosure and finding that plain language of O. 14. Magistrate Judge recommended dismissal of Open Records Act claim as outside the subject matter jurisdiction of federal court. 684 S. Jr.): * Prisoner filed suit bringing 42 U. No.C. Court held that documents were “required by law to be submitted to a government agency” in satisfaction of trade secrets exemption to the Open Records Act.G.C. * Personnel records of municipal employees are not entitled to any blanket exemption from the Open Records Act.G. 4:08-CV-51 -CDL. Apr. the determinations which must be made regarding the documents’ status and accessibility under Georgia law are not related to the issues underlying plaintiff’s federal claims and are therefore not part of the same case or controversy. § 10-1-761(4)(A). Personnel Records of Municipal Employee. M.J.D. Court did not have supplemental jurisdiction because the plaintiffs’ Open Records Act claims did not arise 28 2009 2009 .A. * Court did not have federal question jurisdiction because the plaintiffs’ claims were based on state law. MARTA. 2008 WL 2442184. Open Records Act requires disclosure of documents possessed by a private entity performing a service or function for or on behalf of a public agency. J. even though in possession of private party. GeorgiaCarry.D. Goddard v. therefore failed. J. § 50-18-70(a). § 1983 and Open Records Act claim. 1:09CV-594-TWT. * Although documents at issue may have been relevant to plaintiff’s federal claims. Lack of Federal Jurisdiction. § 50-18-72(b)(1) constitutes General Assembly’s determination that trade secret protection outweighs any greater public benefit in disclosure.E.G. City of Albany. Flemming v. at *5 (M.A. Court held that documents were “public records” because. * After determining that § 1983 claim should be dismissed. Lack of Federal Jurisdiction.S. Remanding to trial court for determination of whether certain documents meet two-part test for trade secrets under O.

* Court held that reprimand letter placed in plaintiff’s personnel file.J. Shabazz v. Court held that the Open Records Act does not authorize compensatory or punitive damages. in violation of O. was not an adverse employment action. 2009) (Shoob. 2d 1276 (N.Ga. * Court noted that plaintiff could file action against county requesting equitable relief in the form of access to the requested records if he believed that he was improperly denied access to a public record. Court held that defendant was not an “authorized recipient” whose conduct is governed by § 50-18-72(a) (11.3) (C). and if the defendants responded. S.C. J. * Plaintiffs’ claims were narrow in that they only involved questions as to whether the records requested were subject to the Open Records Act. 2009 29 .): * Court noted that personnel file of a dean of a university is available to the public under the Open Records Act. Adams. § 50-18-72.out of a common nucleus of operative fact with any federal claim in the case. Defendant was a custodian of records and.A.D. His claim should not have been against defendant in her individual capacity. which stated that former dean of college at state university violated university’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy. 2009) (Duffey. only an award of attorney fees and litigation expenses in actions brought to enforce the statute. 2009 WL 3148676 (N. Marchand. Supp. 1:09-CV-1741-WSD.): * Court dismissed plaintiff’s claim for compensatory and punitive damages based on defendant’s failure to respond to plaintiff’s Open Records Act request. when they responded. Sept. * Court also dismissed plaintiff’s claim for compensatory and punitive damages based on claim that defendant disseminated to an “unauthorized recipient” information that included plaintiff’s social security number.D.. 2009 Recoverable Damages.Ga. whether the defendants responded to the requests. No. Access to Personnel File. 600 F. Court again noted in relation to this claim that the Open Records Act does not authorize compensatory or punitive damages. Soloski v.G. Jr. therefore. did not obtain records pursuant to the Open Records Act. 29. even though file was accessible to public under Georgia Open Records Act.

 19 So. opportunity.2d 1042. it would be very  hard for distributors to know whether something is actionable defamation. and libraries are  generally not held liable for the content of the material that they distribute unless they have  knowledge that the material is tortious or illegal in nature. CompuServe. Inc. Section 230 of the  Communications Decency Act (47 U. CompuServe provided subscribers with access to over 150 specialty electronic "forums"  that were run by third parties. 836 F.  Background on Publisher and Distributor Liability     Under standard common‐law principles. General Motors Corp.C. a book publisher or a newspaper publisher can be held liable for anything that  appears within its pages.N. and ability to exercise editorial control over the content of its  publications. Rep. 135 (S.Y.2  The concern is that it would be  impossible for distributors to read every publication before they sell or distribute it. it continues to  serve as a powerful tool for minimizing the risks inherent in allowing third parties to publish  online. of the content on their  sites.D. a New York state court came to the opposite conclusion when faced  with a website that held itself out as a "family friendly" computer network. 776 F.   See Tacket v. the court held that because Prodigy was                                                                 See RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF TORTS § 578 (1977). 925. bookstores. Thus.. One of the first such cases was Cubby v.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. While  some recent cases have carved out narrow exceptions to Section 230 immunity. 1794 (N. 1987).S. COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT    For online publishers and the attorneys advising them.1    Distributor liability is much more limited. Minvielle. the first websites to be sued for defamation based on the statements  of others argued that they were merely distributors. and that as  a result. Supp. Sup. 1046‐47 (7th Cir.. and not publishers. 928 (La. a person who publishes a defamatory  statement by another bears the same liability for the statement as if he or she had initially  created it.     Four years later.  1991). Harris v. It provides broad protection against  liability for many types of legal claims arising from the actions of users and commenters. 1995). Have You?    RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: SECTION 230. § 230 (2006)) is perhaps the most important piece of  legislation to come out of Congress in the last 15 years. Prodigy.Y. The court agreed and dismissed the case against CompuServe. The theory behind this "publisher" liability is that a publisher has the  knowledge. it argued that it should be treated like a  distributor because it did not review the contents of the bulletin board before it appeared on  CompuServe’s site. Ct. Newsstands. distributors would engage in excessive self‐censorship. after all.  2 1 1    . RESTATEMENT (SECOND) OF  TORTS § 581(1) (1977).     Not surprisingly. When CompuServe was sued over allegedly defamatory  statements that appeared in the "Rumorville" forum. speech  must be false to be defamatory. In addition. 23 Media L. In Stratton Oakmont  v. 1896).

 The three conditions that must be satisfied in order to  successfully invoke Section 230 protections are:  1. or access  software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a  computer server. Most courts have held that through these provisions. and listservs. § 230(c)(1).C.S.”  Websites Covered by Section 230      Is an "interactive computer service" some special type of website? No. immunity from tort  2    .    Courts have generally relied upon a three‐pronged test to determine whether a party is  entitled to protection under Section 230.  3. forums. an   "interactive computer service" means any information service.   47 U.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.     The perverse upshot of the CompuServe and Stratton decisions was that any effort by an  online information provider to restrict or edit user‐submitted content on its site would result in  the provider facing a much higher risk of liability if it failed to eliminate all defamatory material  than if it simply didn’t try to control or edit the content of third parties at all." 47 U.”  2. Congress granted  interactive services of all types. including blogs. The Act  contains deceptively simple language under the heading "Protection for Good Samaritan  blocking and screening of offensive material":   No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher  or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. Prodigy was more like a "publisher" than a  "distributor" and therefore fully liable for all of the content on its site.S. The challenged information is “information provided by another information content  provider.   47 U. system. Section 230 further provides that "[n]o cause of action may be brought  and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this  section. For purposes of  Section 230..C.   The Communications Decency Act      This prompted Congress to pass the Communications Decency Act in 1996. § 230(f)(2).C. The defendant is being “treated as the publisher or speaker” of information for the  purposes of liability. The defendant is “a provider or user of an interactive computer service. Have You?    exercising editorial control over the messages that appeared on its bulletin boards through its  content guidelines and software screening program. § 230(e)(3).S.

 at *28‐29 (D. Batzel v. 06‐1164 AMD/AJB. Kinko’s Inc.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Courts  have held with virtual unanimity that such claims against a website are barred by Section 230. Accusearch Inc.D. Verio.  Courts have applied Section 230 immunity to bar claims such as invasion of privacy. LEXIS 11727.  communications privacy law. Inc. Supp.  3 3    . Dist. 333 F. FTC v. 703‐04 (S. such as deciding whether to publish.  4  See. LEXIS 1424. Inc.5  misappropriation. remains just as  responsible for his online statements as he would be for his offline statements. v. Project Playlist.6 and in a case brought against MySpace.S.g. 04‐cv‐462. Google. and "intellectual property claims. 2007) (finding plaintiff’s right of  publicity/misappropriation claim preempted under Section 230) and Atl. Patentwizard.3  As a result of Section 230. and radio.2d 1069. at *7 (M. 2006 U.Y. 2009).D.S.   Claims Covered by Section 230      Section 230 has most frequently been applied to bar defamation‐based claims. a plaintiff who believes she has been defamed sues both the author of the  statement and the website that provided a forum or otherwise hosted the material. Supp. such as the right of publicity) are also exempted from the broad immunity protection  Section 230 provides. 833.7     However.g. v.  5   Parker v.3d 1187 (10th Cir. 488 F. 2008 U."  47 U.S. Recording Corp.N.  Feb. Section 230 does not immunize the actual creator of content.  Internet publishers are treated differently from publishers in print.  Fla.C. 2008). v. CCBill LLC. v.... Appx.D. Supp.3d 1102. 1071 (D.   Online Activities Covered by Section 230      Courts have consistently held that exercising traditional editorial functions over user‐ submitted content. television. whether he is a blogger. Jan. 833 (3d Cir.2d 690. Smith. such as copyright and trademark. No. commenter. Whitney Info.  6  Gregerson v. Section 230 explicitly exempts from its coverage criminal law. 1118 (9th Cir.15 (9th Cir. No.S. 2007). not only internet service providers”).. 2009). 2003) (noting that the term “includes a wide  range of cyberspace services. but they disagree whether state‐law  intellectual property claims (or claims that arguably could be classified as intellectual property  claims. 2007). or anything else. Inc. Vilana Fin.4  In the  typical case. Inc. remove. Inc.8     Finally. Minn.. e. 242 Fed. 2006). 11.2d 843 (W.. Network. 474 F. Have You?    liability so long as the information is provided by a third party.  603 F. e. § 230(f). 2001).   9  See. 1030 n.D. 15.3d 1018. courts agree that Congress meant to exclude federal intellectual  property claims. Inc.9  The author of a  defamatory statement.. 570 F. a claim asserting that MySpace was  negligent for failing to implement age verification procedures and to protect a fourteen‐year  old from sexual predators. MySpace. is immunized                                                                See. In  interpreting these exclusions. or edit material. e. 163 F.  8  Compare Perfect 10..     But immunity under Section 230 is not limited to defamation or speech‐based torts. Dist.g. Tex. Inc.  7   Doe v...

10  As one moves farther away from these basic functions.  Inc.3d 1018. written by Judge Kozinski. or the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.                                                               10 4    . and (3) Section  230 bars a FHA claim based on the "Additional Comments" provided by users.  including through a search function. the registration interface encourages users to  provide "Additional Comments" about themselves and their desired roommate in an open‐ ended fill‐in‐the‐blank violated the FHA by publishing answers created using its pull‐down menus and  by providing search functionality and email notices based on this information.. 1031 (9th Cir. A Craigslist user.  As to the first  holding. sexual orientation. Two advocacy groups sued Roommates. sexual orientation. 2008 WL 681168 (7th Cir. at least) that website  operators would always be immune under Section 230 for publishing and organizing content  provided by their users.     The decision has three holdings: (1) Section 230 does not bar the claim that  Roommates. the Ninth Circuit found that defendant invoked Section 230 as a defense. Have You?    under Section 230. LLC. it  follows that asking them is the website's own act.11  The decision. 2003) (“[T]he exclusion of ‘publisher’ liability  necessarily precludes liability for exercising the usual prerogative of publishers to choose among proffered  material and to edit the material published while retaining its basic form and message.g. using drop‐down 2008). and whether they will bring children to a  household. if we assume for the sake of argument that asking certain questions violates the law. Users must specify.     Roommates. Yahoo!    In an en banc decision. Smith. 333 F.   Exceptions to Section 230 Immunity:  Roommates. was not entitled to protection under Section 230 against claims  under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and related laws. Craigslist. The website then publishes all this information on the user's  profile page and uses it to channel subscribers toward listings with compatible preferences.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. not the user's. Before users can search or post listings. (2) Section 230 does not bar the claim that  Roommates. so long as the underlying claim didn't involve intellectual property. 521 F. but the analysis becomes more fact‐specific. an  apartment matching violated the FHA by asking questions about gender.  exploded forever the longstanding assumption (among Internet lawyers.  information about their gender. which held that Section 230 barred FHA claims  against Craigslist for posting the discriminatory notices of its is a website that helps match people looking for a place to live with  people who've got space to rent. much like a 2008).com and Barnes v.. In addition.3d 1157 (9th Cir. Mar. immunity may still  exist. They also must provide information about their preferences in roommates with  regard to the same three criteria. arguing that  these practices violate the Fair Housing Act and California housing discrimination  Roommates. and  children during the registration process.”)  11  Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. they must create a  profile by answering a number of questions. e. Roommates. 14.  federal criminal law. Batzel v. The third holding is consistent  with the Seventh Circuit's decision in Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights v.

 it is relatively unremarkable and easy to  distinguish from other forced its users to  answer allegedly illegal questions.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Here. namely what kinds of legal claims treat  5    .     On the one hand. at 1167. Yahoo!. and then  imposed the allegedly unlawful criteria on its users through searches and email notifications. and (b) provided a limited set of pre‐populated answers.. Inc. 521 and another recent Ninth Circuit decision. Inc. Have You?    Roommates.    Barnes v.     The importance of the Roommates. at *9‐12 (M. LLC. which Judge Kozinski re‐interpreted.  2003). lest we cut  the heart out of section 230 by forcing websites to face death by ten thousand duck‐ bites.D.  Roommates. 570 F. Id. 2009) clarifies one of the many possible lines  between enjoying Section 230 protection and losing it. Inc. and this result is at least facially  inconsistent with the Ninth's Circuit's own Carafano v.”  The opinion emphasized that this wasn’t a  seismic shift away from Section 230 immunity. and some district court cases.     The Court tried to limit the impact of its Roommates. Fla. there are no pull down menus or specific questions  prompting or encouraging the user to indicate a discriminatory preference. has complete discretion  about what to place in his or her notice. Such close cases. With respect to its search and email functions. v. we is one of the first cases to hold a website operator  liable for content chosen by a user from a pull‐down menu. to chip away at the broad protections afforded by Section decision rests with the second holding. you will be immune. Feb.3d 1119 (9th Cir. noting that “[t]he message to website  operators is clear: If you don’t encourage illegal content. Barnes  v. more recent cases have shown that plaintiffs’  lawyers have grabbed on to Roommates. 339 was responsible for user‐created content that violated the  FHA because it (a) required subscribers to provide allegedly unlawful information as a condition  of accessing its service. provided only allegedly unlawful answer choices. Yahoo!. Despite this limiting language. Metrosplash.3d at 1165‐66. and there will always be close cases where a  clever lawyer could argue that something the website operator did encouraged the  illegality. The  court found that Roommates.3d at 1175. 2008).  15.  521 F. must be resolved in favor of immunity. the court  held that Roommates lost Section 230 immunity by designing its system to use allegedly  unlawful criteria to channel information to particular users and forcing users to participate in  the discriminatory process. stating:  Websites are complicated enterprises. like Whitney  Information the court found that Roommates. Xcentric Ventures. But. if you narrow this case to its facts. 2008 WL 450095. fighting off claims that they promoted or encouraged—or at least tacitly assented  to—the illegality of third parties. or design your website to require  users to input illegal content.3d (9th user filling out the "Additional Comments" section.

 noting  that section 230(c) is captioned “Protection for ‘good samaritan’ blocking and screening of  offensive material.  whether express or implied is unclear. and some kind of open solicitation. but Yahoo! was  not very responsive ‐‐ even though it had a policy providing for the removal of fake profiles if  the complaining party provided a copy of her drivers' license. The profiles contained nude photographs of Barnes  and her boyfriend. real and electronic.     At issue in Barnes was the fact that plaintiff’s ex‐boyfriend created a fake personals ad  for her on Yahoo! and impersonated her on various online forums:   Barnes did not authorize her now former boyfriend to post the profiles. and telephone number at Barnes’ place  of employment.3d at 1098. She  claimed that since Section 230 only relieved online service providers of being held to be the  publisher of defamatory material. Barnes then tried to  argue that Section 230 only applies to websites that try and remove some objectionable  material. phone calls. told Barnes that she would “personally walk  the statements over to the division responsible for stopping unauthorized profiles and  they would take care of it.”  Cf.  its Director of Communications. taken without her knowledge. Before long. at 1099.   570 F. that did not relieve Yahoo! of the obligation to take down  allegedly defamatory material once it had notice of its tortious nature. Osako. The profiles  also included the addresses. Roommates. not to provide an excuse for doing nothing. Shortly thereafter. Approximately  two months passed without word from Yahoo!. at which point Barnes filed suit against  Yahoo! in Oregon state court. A day before the initial air date of the broadcast. a local news program was preparing to broadcast a report on  the incident. The ex‐boyfriend  then conducted discussions in Yahoo’s online “chat rooms.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.    Barnes attempted to plead around Section 230 in a number of creative ways. men whom Barnes did not know were peppering her office  with emails.”  Barnes claims to have relied on this statement and took no  further action regarding the profiles and the trouble they had caused. 521 F. and personal visits.” posing as Barnes and  directing male correspondents to the fraudulent profiles he had created.      While the court rejected these attempts to plead around Section 230. the profiles disappeared from Yahoo!’s  website.   Id. apparently never to return. Ms. Barnes argued that the statutory purpose of the Amendment was to encourage  websites affirmatively to police themselves. The opinion notes what happened  next:  During the same period. Barnes demanded that Yahoo! take the information down. all in the expectation of sex. which is hardly  surprising considering their content. Yahoo! broke its silence. Yahoo!  6    . As noted above. to engage in sexual intercourse. it nevertheless  found one of Barnes’ claims not preempted: promissory estoppel.3d at 1163‐64. Have You?    an interactive computer services as a "publisher or speaker" within the meaning of the statute  and what kinds do not.

 noting that the objectionable content was created by Craigslist  users. 665 F. sued personal ad site Craigslist in  March 2009. like Roommates.     Denise Finkel. Sep 15. filed by the Sheriff in his official capacity. 32248 (N. sought an injunction.  compensatory and punitive damages. Sup. claiming that the social  networking should be held liable for publishing the defamatory statements because it "should  7    . noting that the elements cited by the Sheriff could also be used  to facilitate the placement of lawful ads:   While we accept as true for purposes of this motion plaintiff's allegation that users  routinely flout Craigslist's guidelines. 102578/09. Or if it has. and welfare. 570 not Craigslist itself.Y. 2009 N. alleging that the site is a "public nuisance" under Chicago Municipal Code §8‐8‐ 020.  Finkel v.2d at 969. Supp. it is only "in the sense that no one could post [unlawful content] if  craigslist did not provide a forum. Have You?    engaged in discussions with Barnes and promised to remove the material." .Y. Craigslist. Judge John Grady found Dart’s claims to be  preempted by Section 230. No. 20. However.D. Yahoo!  failed to do so. Facebook. Ill. The complaint alleged that Craigslist  creates a "public nuisance" because its "conduct in creating erotic services. the Sheriff of Cook County."  Judge  Grady rejected this argument. 2009). 2009)." which allegedly contained false and  defamatory statements about her. Section 230(c)(1) would serve little if any purpose  if companies like Craigslist were found liable for "causing" or "inducing" users to post  unlawful content in this fashion. Inc. Dart attempted to argue that Craigslist.   665 F. peace.   RECENT CASES  Dart v. Finkel also sued Facebook.    Thomas Dart.2d 961 (N. ¶ 92. Oct.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.3d at 1109. should  be viewed as co‐authoring or inducing the objectionable content through its creation of an  "erotic" or "adult" services category and the inclusion of subcategories like "w4m. the court concluded. developing twenty‐ one categories. and providing a word search function causes a significant interference with the  public's health. Illinois." Compl.     Subsection 230(c)(1) creates a baseline rule: no liability for publishing the content of  other information service providers. sued four of  her former high school classmates and their parents after the students created a private  Facebook group called "90 Cents Short of a Dollar. However. safety.    Ruling on Craigslists’ motion to dismiss. subsection 230(c)(1) of the  Act would not preclude her cause of action. Slip Op. The civil complaint.. . . and attorneys' fees. because its users have posted ads in the "erotic services" category that facilitate  prostitution. Supp. a 2008 graduate of Oceanside High School on Long Island. it is not because Craigslist has caused them to do  so. insofar as Barnes alleged a  breach of contract claim under the theory of promissory estoppel.

 Cal. The court rejected Goddard’s assertion that Section 230 was inapplicable claim  because her unfair competition claims were anchored in the federal anti‐money laundering  criminal statute and excluded under §230(e)(1). Supp. 640 F.2d 1193 (N.  2008 WL 5245490 (N. The only issue is  whether the party sought to be held liable is an "interactive computer service" and if  that hurdle is surmounted the immunity granted by 42 USC 230(c)(1) is triggered if the  content was provided by another party. finding that Google never made affirmative representations regarding the  services advertised through AdWords." she  might avoid the statutory immunity created by § breach of contract. Have You?    have known that such statements were false and/or have taken steps to verify the  genuineness" of the statements. it was not entitled to protection under Section 230. alleging that Google  was complicit in the alleged fraud because its AdWords program helped generate the keywords  used in the offending advertisements. The court likewise rejected Goddard’s breach  of contract claims. Cal..      In response to Facebook's motion to dismiss the Complaint under Section 230. the court granted her leave  to amend her complaint to take into account the intervening decision in Roommates.3d at 1167. 17.  explaining that:   [T]here may be instances in which an internet content provider will be considered  "'responsible' at least 'in part' for [posted third‐party content] because every [posting] is  a collaborative effort" between the internet provider and the third‐party content  provider.D. Dec. Complaint ¶ 28. Goddard asserted claims against Google for state unfair  competition and money laundering. 2008). and negligence.  New York Supreme Court Justice Debra James rejected Fikel’s ownership theory. Slip Op. 2009). Fair Housing Council. Finkel  argued that because Facebook's Terms of Service granted it an "ownership" interest in the  content on its site. 521 F.D. finding that the behavioral restrictions on advertisers  contained in the AdWords contract didn’t create affirmative marketing representations  enforceable by third parties. Inc. Google. at 3‐4. While dismissing Goddard’s complaint.   2009 N. which resulted in unauthorized  charges to her cell phone bill.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.   8    .    Goddard sued Google after clicking on an allegedly fraudulent AdWords advertisement  for “free” mobile subscription service providers (“MSSP”). the court found Goddard’s claims preempted by  Section 230. If Plaintiff could establish Google's  involvement in "creating or developing" the AdWords. 32248.  Goddard v. In a 5‐page decision. holding:   "Ownership" of content plays no role in the Act's statutory scheme.     On Google’s first motion to dismiss.Y. either "in whole or in part.

Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. The lawsuit. StubHub Inc. one of the largest online  ticket resellers. The  complaints asserted claims against MySpace for negligence and strict product liability based on  MySpace’s alleged failure to implement age verification software and more stringent privacy  settings. Inc. The court rejected  plaintiffs’ allegations that their claims arose out of MySpace’s own tortious conduct and thus  fell outside of Section 230. Goddard alleged "that Google's mathematical algorithm  'suggests' the use of the word 'free' in relation to 'ringtone' as a means of attracting more  visitors to [the MSSPs'] sites. In finding plaintiffs’ claims barred by Section 230. the court found that the claims were predicated on  holding MySpace liable as a publisher for third party content because they sought to hold the  website responsible for the communications between users. StubHub also provides reduced fees and special privileges to certain "Large Sellers. 640 F.. Supp. and other events. claiming that the company encourages fans to violate Massachusetts' anti‐ scalping laws and the team's prohibition against reselling tickets. MySpace. 175 Cal. Super. StubHub allows people to buy and sell tickets to sporting. StubHub receives a 25% commission for each  sale: 15% of the selling price from the seller."    Doe II v. 26. 06‐4874‐BLSI. 2009 WL 995483 (Mass. via a  minimum price auction." who  allegedly resold their season tickets on StubHub. the Court found that Congress did  not intend to limit the protections of Section 230 to defamation claims. App. and 10% added to the total sales price due from  the buyer. and that MSSPs whose offerings are not actually free are literally  powerless to resist."   9    . Under its user agreement. In so holding.    The appeal included four consolidated cases filed by the families of teenaged girls that  were sexually assaulted by men they met on the social networking site MySpace.."  Id.    NPS LLC v. also named as defendants two local residents and 50 "John Does. Have You?      In an amended complaint.2d at 1199." and as a result Google “contribute[ed] materially” to the alleged unlawful  activities. concert. holding that  Google's AdWords program was merely a "framework that could be utilized for proper or  improper purposes" and that Google did not "elicit[] the allegedly illegal content and make[]  aggressive use of it in conducting its business. at 1198. Sellers can choose whether to sell their tickets at a fixed price.    The court subsequently granted Google's second motion to dismiss. the court found that "Google must be extricated from this  lawsuit now lest [Section 230's] 'robust' protections be eroded by further litigation. filed in Suffolk  Superior Court. Jan. 4th 561 (2009). 2009)..     Through its    The New England Patriots filed a lawsuit against StubHub Inc.  theater. In denying Goddard a chance to  amend her complaint once more. in which the seller sets a price that  decreases each day. or via a declining price auction."  who "take a large interest in tickets spanning over multiple events and genres. No.

 519 F. newspapers  do not affirmatively seek to increase the price charged in the classified ad. c. inter alia. noted that nothing in the service provided by craigslist encouraged those  posting listings for rental or sale properties to add discriminatory preferences in  violation of the Act. StubHub argued in its motion that it isn't  responsible for what its users do because it does not sell tickets itself. Inc. its price is not  dependent on the amount of the sale. Id.L. This finding was based on the following allegations:    10    . at *13.3d 666.  the newspaper generally charges a fixed price for the advertisement. 2008).   NPS. StubHub moved for partial summary judgment on the Patriot’s claim of  intentional interference with advantageous relations.  Citing the  Ninth Circuit's decision in Roommates.  rejecting a claim that craigslist helped to violate the anti‐discrimination laws in the Fair  Housing Act. 140. at *12.3d at 1167‐68). for Civil Rights  Under Law. however." NPS. Justice Gants found that Section 230  immunity does not apply to interactive computer service providers who are found to have  "contribute[d] materially to the alleged illegality of the conduct. that Section  230 exempted it from liability for the actions of its users. Craigslist. to establish  improper means is also sufficient to place StubHub outside the immunity provided by  the CDA. 671‐672 (7th Cir. however. and that StubHub does not lose the immunity provided by the CDA if it simply knew that  its sellers were potentially in violation of G. § 185A or § 185D. The court held that the Patriots sufficiently alleged that  StubHub “contribute[d] materially” to the alleged illegal conduct. 521 F. that sellers  who post their tickets on StubHub are information content providers within the meaning of §  230." NPS.     Justice Gants concluded that "StubHub is an interactive computer service. v. In Craigslist. there is evidence in the record that StubHub materially  contributed to the illegal “ticket scalping” of its sellers. First. especially  when doing so may constitute a violation of law. Second. In effect.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. See Chicago Lawyers' Comm. the same evidence of  knowing participation in illegal “ticket scalping” that is sufficient. at 671. the Seventh Circuit. at least two fundamental differences between StubHub's website  and the "want‐ads" in the classified pages of a newspaper or comparable website. noting:   [A]s discussed which prohibit.     StubHub also argued that it should be treated no differently from the newspaper "want‐ ads. The Patriots claimed that StubHub  tortiously interfered with the team's relationship with its fans by intentionally inducing or  encouraging ticket holders to transfer their tickets in violation of their season ticket licenses  and Massachusetts' anti‐scalping laws. if proven. In response. arguing. at *12. Have You?      After discovery.  NPS. but simply provides an  online forum for others to sell tickets. among other things. selling tickets for more than $2  over the face value plus service charges. at *13 (quoting  Roommates." an analogy that the court was quick to reject:   There are.

 and published defamatory titles.  ." which were applied by users to reports about GW Equity. ."   StubHub "affirmatively encouraged LargeSellers in the LargeSeller's Handbook to 'check  the website from time to time for underpriced tickets or exclusive listings that may not  be seen elsewhere. a mergers and acquisition firm that acts as a consultant to middle‐ market business owners who seek to sell or merge their businesses.    GW Equity. and  metatags for these reports concerning GW Equity."     Accordingly. from which StubHub will enjoy a  higher commission. which was later  adopted by the court. Have You?     StubHub's pricing structure "meant that it profited from any violation of the anti‐ scalping laws.   11    . such  as "corrupt companies. headings.     After completing discovery. GW Equity further alleged that  Xcentric and Magedson created. sued Xcentric Ventures. which provides a forum in which consumers may  accuse companies and individuals of various "rip‐off" and "bad business" practices. Xcentric Ventures LLC. at *6. Tex. a federal magistrate judge issued his report on the motion. developed. *18. In  October 2008. especially because they "did not solely provide users with a selection  of categories that were negative and/or defamatory in nature.     In its complaint. In an effort to circumvent the  immunity for website operators provided by Section 230." GW Equity. is essentially encouraging  LargeSellers to resell these tickets at higher prices.' and still encourages LargeSellers to buy these underpriced tickets  by waiving for them the fee due from all other ticket buyers‐10 percent of the sales  price. The absence of such information permits illegal ticket scalping to occur through the  StubHub website and prevents any policing of the website to prohibit such scalping. since its revenue increased in direct proportion to the price of the ticket  sold. recommending that the district court grant Xcentric and Magedson's  motion for summary judgment. LLC  and Edward Magedson in Texas federal court for defamation and other torts over reports  published on the Ripoff Report website.  GW Equity LLC v." "[B]y encouraging LargeSellers to buy these tickets. The magistrate judge found that Xcentric and Magedson were  entitled to the protection of Section 230 because GW Equity had failed to raise a genuine issue  of fact concerning Xcentric’s development or creation of defamatory content.D. . 9."   StubHub did "not require the seller (or even ask the seller) the face value of the ticket . 2009 WL 62173 (N. Xcentric and Magedson moved for summary judgment. Jan.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. 2009). the court denied StubHub’s partial motion to dismiss. It also claimed that Ripoff Report generated  defamatory content by providing users with drop‐down boxes containing defamatory tags. The court  indicated that providing drop‐down boxes with "a broad choice of categories from which a user  must make a selection in order to submit a report [was] not sufficient" to deprive the  defendants of immunity. LLC. GW Equity alleged that Ripoff Report published false and defamatory  reports submitted by users without verifying their accuracy.

 under this program Ripoff Report will. investigate "rip‐off" reports targeting member companies and post prominent rebuttals to  those reports.  12    . See id. See id. even though the Internet provider’s conduct may be considered reprehensible and  offensive. the court rejected GW Equity's argument that Ripoff Report's "Corporate  Advocacy Business Remediation & Satisfaction Program" took the website outside of the  protections of Section 230. at *17‐18. Have You?      The court also found that there was no competent evidence that any Ripoff Report  employee ever wrote or significantly edited report titles and headings. or to otherwise use it to their  advantage. According to GW Equity. and none of those IP addresses matched up with the IPs of a report or a rebuttal  about GW Equity. The court relied in part on a report produced by Xcentric  showing IP addresses and locations connected with the reports and rebuttals about GW Equity.     Finally. for a  fee.  This report showed the IP addresses of Ripoff Report servers and machines used by Ripoff  Report staff. The court indicated that "it is not a bar to immunity for an Internet provider to  refuse to remove defamatory material created by a third party.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed." Id. or changed the category  tag on a user report. at *19. at *17.

 Zherka v. Doe. No.  slip op. 2010) and  Maxon v.Y. at 8 (Tenn. State high courts in the District of  Columbia.. Ct. 2009). with decisions in the District of Columbia. 2d 128.D.2d 451 (Del. ‐‐‐ A. Wash. Dec. 775 A.D.   8  140 F.2d ‐‐‐‐. 08C‐431  (Tenn. 2001).     In other developments.  1 1    . v.J. Oct. rather than as a defendant. 966 A.C. Supp. Swartz v. Ct. 9. Brodie v. Have You?  RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: ONLINE ANONYMITY    Several cases in 2009 and 2010 have addressed the legal process for uncovering the  identities of anonymous or pseudonymous Internet speakers. Pa. Sup. 10‐CVS‐361 (N. Sedersten v. 596 F. Mar.J.C. Div.  Federal district courts also weighed in. Missouri. Super. 2062  (S. Maryland and New Hampshire decided cases in which parties sought to compel  website operators to disclose the identity of anonymous posters.1 Most2 of these courts adopted  either the Dendrite3 or the Cahill4 standard. 132 (D. Feb. Ct. 2009).2d 756 (N. 2009).2d 941 (D. 2010 WL 816647 (N. 2d 128 (D. the Cohen case does not represent a significant departure from the  other anonymous speech cases discussed in this section.Z.D. 2009). 2010). Solers v. 3‐08‐0805 (Ill. v.D. Inc. Ct. 24.C 2009). and lower courts in Illinois. Supp. App. TubesocktedD. June 28.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. New Jersey. 3. King. 2d 1088 (W. and New York.N. Oct. Sinclair v.S. 596 F. 2001). 8. New York.     Nearly all of the decisions this past year recognized a qualified First Amendment right to  speak anonymously that must be balanced against a would‐be plaintiff’s right to seek proper  redress for legally actionable harm. Doe.  3  Dendrite Int’l v. Super. In effectuating this balance. June 1. 08 Civ.  Mo.6 While a slight oddball  in terms of its legal analysis. Ct. Implode‐Explode Heavy Indus. 2008). most courts required a party  seeking identifying information to provide notice and make a substantial legal and factual  showing of the merits of the underlying claim before unmasking an anonymous or  pseudonymous speaker intended to be named as a defendant.2d 432  (Md.g. Ottawa Publ’g Co.H.  New Hampshire. 11. previously applied in Doe v. 887 N.Y. 2TheMart. Pa. Mar. App. Taylor.5    Anonymous speech also broke into the popular press with model Liskula Cohen’s  successful effort to uncover the identity of the “Skanks in NYC” blogger. Pocono  Medical Center. Doe.  9  2008 WL 5192386 (M.  Pennsylvania. No. The Mortgage Specialists. Ct. Cir.D. 2010).com8 and Enterline v. Dec.2d 424 (N.Y.  2  The two exceptions were the court in Hester v.. 8. 2005). Swartz v. Bogdanos. 2010).   6  Cohen v. 977 A. Doe. or some variation.9 which looks a good deal like the test applied in qualified reporter’s privilege                                                                See Sinclair v. with a few courts recognizing  that the distinction is largely semantic. Super. Cahill. Inc. 884 A.. Doe..D.  4  Doe v. Independent Newspapers. 2009 WL 4802567 (W. 2009). 08C‐431. TubeSockTedD. North Carolina and Tennessee also addressed the  issue. two decisions elaborated on the standard for unmasking of an  anonymous poster who would serve as a witness. 8. Doe. A. 2009). 2010 WL 1791274  (N.  7  McVicker v. Google. App.. Ct. Inc.D. e. 2009). 2010 WL 786275 (W.C.  5  See.7  These courts  adopted a four‐part test. 2010). No. Cir. Div. Supp. 2009).

 2010). at  http://arstechnica. No. 775 A. P.    Former Vance County commissioner Thomas S.    Plaintiffs had sought the identities of a pseudonymous commenter that had posted  allegedly defamatory statements in comments on articles posted on the website of a local  newspaper. 2010)..   THE CASES  Hester v. two incidents involving newspapers voluntarily outing website commenters  received considerable attention.‐newspaper‐causes‐stir‐by‐ unmasking‐anonymous‐poster‐%E2%80%93‐a‐judge/. 2001). Doe. Ct. job loss ensues (Nov.  The court. in and of itself. R. in comparison to 2008.   11  See Ars Technica. No.  10 2    .   Maxon v. 3.2d 756 (N. Have You?  cases.  The lower court applied a modified version of the Dendrite and Cahill test and  dismissed plaintiffs’ petition for discovery of the commenter’s identity. Ct. and that employees  should be trained to comply with that policy. but allowed the subpoena as to other commenters. 56 adopted by many courts was  "way too stringent and premature. Cir. Doty v. DV 07‐022 (Mont. 10‐CVS‐361 (N. adopted only "some" of the Dendrite test. Additionally. See  Doe v.  App. finding that the higher standard under Fed.” and accordingly found that there was “no need for the additional procedural                                                                In 2008. Super. 2010). CV08030693 (Or. courts in Montana and Oregon ruled that their state shield laws protected the identities of  anonymous commenters. TS.  12  First Amendment Coalition. the court applied the motion to dismiss standard set forth in Fed. Paper outs “anonymous” commenter. viewing such information as material obtained during the newsgathering process. at 3. App. Jr. June 1. Civ. warrants constitutional  protection. One involved a St. 30.  12(b)(6). Sept. Ct. a good deal of it negative.    Finally.  In testing the sufficiency of the  plaintiff’s claims.J.ars. while citing the standard set forth in Dendrite Int’l v. 3‐08‐0805 (Ill. Molnar. 2009). who resigned.  The appeals court  rejected the proposition that “anonymous speech. R.11 The second involved the Cleveland  Plain Dealer’s decision to disclose publicly that several comments posted on its site were linked  to the email account of a local judge.  After conducting the motion to dismiss‐outs‐anonymous‐commenter‐job‐loss‐ensues. Cir. Louis Post‐ Dispatch reporter who turned over the IP address of a vulgar commenter to a local school that  traced the comment back to an employee. 2008).firstamendmentcoalition. Ottawa Publishing Co. Cleveland newspaper causes stir by unmasking anonymous poster—a judge  (March 29. 18. Sept. P. Hester.10 courts in 2009 and 2010 were less receptive to  claims that state shield laws protect the identities of anonymous commenters. Ct. Div."  Slip op. at http://www. June 28.12 The public relations backlash from these incidents  suggests that a website privacy policy should spell out clearly when a website operator may  disclose identifying information other than in response to legal process.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. sought the identities of six  pseudonymous commenters who allegedly posted defamatory comments to a local community   blog. 2008). Doe. the court ultimately quashed the subpoena as applied to certain of the blog posts the  court found to be non‐defamatory.

Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. the court concluded.  The test sets our several factors for  trial courts to consider."  Id.  2010 WL  3    .  Therefore. Globe Newspaper Co. for  submission to the New Hampshire Banking Department.  Id. turn over the identity of an anonymous source who provided  ML‐Implode with a copy of a financial document prepared by The Mortgage Specialists. at 596. the court recognized a First Amendment right to speak anonymously. at 597‐ 98. 2010).  Id.” whether there is a need for confidentiality between the  journalist and the source. 633 F. which requires the  plaintiff to establish all elements of a claim for defamation.H. The Mortgage Lender  Implode‐O‐Meter ("ML‐Implode").  The court remanded the issue to the trial court  with instructions to apply the balancing test set forth by the First Circuit in  Bruno & Stillman. which requires the court to  “balance the potential harm to the free flow of information that might result against the  asserted need for the requested information. Inc.    In Mortgage Specialists. to test the sufficiency of the plaintiff’s claims. at 13‐14.  The Mortgage Specialists.  Id.. the New Hampshire Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s  order that the publishers of the mortgage industry watchdog site." and that "Implode's website serves an informative function and contributes to the flow  of information to the public. 1980).  Article 22 of the New Hampshire Constitution. rather than a motion to  dismiss standard. the court  determined that the only test a lower court should apply to a petition seeking the identity of an  anonymous commenter was that set forth in Supreme Court Rule 224. and  further rejected the application of a summary judgment standard.    In ruling that ML‐Implode was entitled to invoke the qualified newsgathering privilege  under the New Hampshire Constitution. 595‐98 (1st Cir.  It  explained that "[t]he fact that Implode operates a website makes it no less a member of the  press. finding that the website qualified as a  “reporter” and was thus entitled to invoke the qualified newsgathering privilege under Part I."  2010 WL 1791274. adopting the Dendrite balancing test.  Instead.. ‐‐‐ A. Inc. v. and the importance  of confidentiality to preserve the journalist's continued newsgathering effectiveness.2d ‐‐‐‐..2d 583. at 11‐12."  Id. Have You?  requirements articulated in the Dendrite‐Cahill test.    In vacating the trial court’s order to reveal the identity of the pseudonymous  commenter. 2010 WL  1791274 (N. the exhaustion of other non‐confidential sources. v. at *2‐3. the court flatly rejected The Mortgage Specialists'  argument that "the newsgathering privilege is inapplicable here because Implode is neither an  established media entity nor engaged in investigative reporting. Inc.  The court specifically  rejected any additional requirement to balance the commenter’s First Amendment rights.”  Slip op.  Inc. The court also vacated the trial court’s order that  ML‐Implode reveal the identity of a pseudonymous commenter who allegedly posted  defamatory statements about the company.” Id. "Implode is a reporter for  purposes of the newsgathering privilege. Implode‐Explode Heavy Indus. including whether the claim is merely “a pretense for using discovery  powers in a fishing expedition.

 and breaking the law.    In A. 8. Div. 2010). the plaintiff must notify the commenter of the  subpoena and give him or her a chance to respond. does not authorize pre‐suit discovery in order to learn the identities of  potential defendants.J. 2010). at *5. including the plaintiff.Z.” An  anonymous individual set up a Gmail account and sent an email to the faculty advisor for the  Cool Kids & Heroes program stating that seven students. 2010 WL 816647 (N. at 22. In  an oral ruling. 19.  In re Lerner.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. App. Mar. No. 134. Have You?  1791274.  If the plaintiff meets this burden.  A. Ct.” Tr. The plaintiff was a member of  her high school’s “Cool Kids & Heroes” program. 342 N.J. at *6.” The email attached several photographs taken off  Facebook showing students drinking and smoking pot. the court explained that “[New Jersey] courts have set  forth a procedure whereby a party seeking to file a complaint for defamation can sue  anonymous speakers even before he or she knows who they are. Only one of the photographs included  the plaintiff. the court denied the requested discovery. Because the  condominium association president had not filed a John Doe complaint before seeking  discovery. Ct. 775 A. Div. the  court must then “balance the defendant’s First Amendment right of anonymous free speech  against the strength of the prima facie case presented and the necessity for the disclosure of  the anonymous defendant's identity to allow the plaintiff to properly proceed. the court adopted the balancing test first set forth in Dendrite Int’l. pre‐complaint discovery would not be appropriate.” a website forum used by Galaxy Towers condo  owners to discuss a variety of issues. Doe. v. Ct. Mar. a mid‐level appeals court in New Jersey affirmed an order quashing a  subpoena seeking subscriber information for a Gmail account.    In In re Lerner.”  775 A.   4    . Super. Super.  The court must then review the plaintiff’s  complaint and the proffered evidence in order to determine whether the plaintiff has made a  prima facie case on each element of its causes of action. Inc. v. Citing Dendrite. Super. v.J.” adding that “in those  circumstances. HUD‐L‐0672‐10 (N. 2001).J. Law Div. and it showed her standing at a ping pong table about to throw a ping pong ball. Doe. App.  but it did not show her drinking or smoking. A New Jersey trial court ruled that the president of the Galaxy Towers  Condominium Association was not entitled to pre‐suit discovery of the identities of anonymous  critics who posted comments on “Galaxy Facts. were “breaking  their contracts. comprised of students of high academic  achievement who pledged to maintain standards of “exemplary personal conduct. the court held that Rule 4:11‐1.  Under the Dendrite test.Z.2d at  760‐61.  To guide the lower court in weighing the speaker’s First Amendment rights  against Mortgage Specialist’s interest in uncovering the author of the allegedly defamatory  statements. Super. the New Jersey rule of civil procedure governing  pre‐suit discovery.2d 756 (N.  2010 WL  1791274. Doe  Number 3. including the Association’s governance and leadership.

  reasoning that the plaintiff failed to show that the strength of her prima facie case and the  necessity for disclosure outweighed Doe’s First Amendment right to anonymous speech. the court found that the plaintiff presented no evidence that the statement she  was “breaking [her] contract[]. at *7. and breaking the law” was false. at *5.D. 2010 WL 786275. Mar.  2001)). (3) the identifying information is directly and materially relevant to  that claim or defense. the court adhered to the Dendrite standard and affirmed the trial court. Supp. sought the posters’ identities in  order to impeach the testimony of city council members who made the decision to fire him.    On appeal. The court noted that the  plaintiff “never provided a sworn statement that she was not consuming alcohol while  underage. at *6. The trial court granted the motion. which requires the court to  consider whether (1) the subpoena was issued in good faith. 11.  McVicker v. that the photograph was a forgery. the plaintiff in an employment discrimination case.” McVicker. and the Doe defendant filed a motion to quash.  Specifically.D. Pa.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. at *3 (citing Doe Dec. 2d 1088.    In McVicker. a federal district court in the Western District of Pennsylvania denied  William McVicker’s motion to compel Trib Total Media. Have You?    The plaintiff filed a John Doe lawsuit against the sender of the email and subpoenaed  Google. or that  she was not the person who was depicted in the photograph. Pocono  Medical Center. 1095 (W. Id.D. The court adopted the four‐part test applied in 2TheMart. the district court reviewed the various standards  applied by other courts in anonymous speech cases and determined that “a party seeking  disclosure must clear a higher hurdle where the anonymous poster is a non‐party. and Enterline v.” Id. that the photograph had been altered. to disclose identifying information for seven identified screen names. The court concluded: “We are  satisfied that regardless of whether the balancing test embodied in Dendrite’s fourth prong is  applied or not. at *5. These photographs showed plaintiff holding and drinking  alcoholic beverages along with the other students. 140 F. 2008). 2010 WL 786275 (W. Wash. 2TheMart. King. the publisher of the South Hills Record  and YourSouthHills. (2) the information sought relates  to a core claim or defense. McVicker.”  2010 WL 816647.  McVicker. The  court also found compelling additional photographs taken off Facebook that Doe submitted in  support of the motion to quash.  though on different grounds. 2008 WL 5192386 (M. 2010).     The court determined that McVicker failed to show that the identifying information was  directly and materially relevant to his employment claim because it was primarily useful for  5    .  2010 WL 786275. and (4) information sufficient to establish or to disprove the claim or  defense is unavailable from any other source.     In ruling on the motion to compel. no plaintiff is entitled to an order unmasking an anonymous author when the  statements in question cannot support a cause of action for defamation. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiff was not entitled to  unmask the defendant because she could not make out a prima facie case of defamation.

 2009 WL 4802567 (W. and that Sedersten could  rely on the comments in making out his negligent hiring/retention case against the City without  knowing the identity of the speaker. Gannett  Missouri Publishing. Mo. The court adopted the four‐ part test applied in 2TheMart.D. The News‐Leader article discussed county prosecutors' decision to drop charges  against the police officer. at *2 (citing Doe  v. the court determined that “this is not the exceptional case that  warrants disclosure of an anonymous speaker’s identity. which requires the court to consider whether (1) the  subpoena was issued in good faith. and (4) information sufficient to establish or to disprove the claim or defense is  unavailable from any other source.    In Sedersten. the publisher of the News‐Leader.” Id. Id. 140 F. 9. such as the strict scrutiny applied to restrictions on political's privacy policy created no expectation of privacy. a decision that "bornandraisedhere" sharply criticized. objected to the subpoena. See id. the district court briefly reviewed the various standards applied by other  courts in anonymous speech cases and determined that “a party seeking disclosure must clear a  higher hurdle where the anonymous poster is a non‐ The court also found that the identities of the commenters and  information in their possession were not strictly necessary for McVicker to impeach the city  council members effectively. Springfield's police chief.” Id. 1095 (W. The court also explained that it would “keep in mind  other First Amendment principles. and a former Springfield  police officer.     The district court also ruled that Trib Total Media had standing to assert the First  Amendment rights of individuals posting to its website. a federal district court in the Western District of Missouri denied John  Sedersten’s motion to compel The Springfield News‐Leader to divulge the identity of  "bornandraisedhere.     As in McVicker. (3) the identifying information is directly and materially relevant to that claim or  defense. Id." a pseudonymous commenter who commented on an article on the  News‐Leader's website. finding that the  policy “clearly reflects that [the website publisher] will disclose its users’ personally identifiable  information only in very limited situations. (2) the information sought relates to a core claim or  defense.” 2009 Wl 4802567. and  Sedersten moved to compel the newspaper to turn over information. and that the same or similar information might be obtained  through "normal. Dec. at *5. Have You?  impeachment purposes. The subpoena issued in conjunction with Sedersten's civil lawsuit  against the City of Springfield. 2009). 2TheMart. Supp.   In the course of its analysis. 2d 1088." Id. Taylor. if  6    . anticipated forms of discovery. The court found that the evidence  Sedersten sought to elicit from bornandraisedhere was cumulative. the court also “summarily rejected” McVicker’s argument    that the YourSouthHills.    Applying this test. 2001)). at *4. Wash. the court commented that. In addition. at *6.” Id.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.  Sedersten v.

 at *2 n. then Sedersten could  simply question the chief on the comments during a deposition. 8. the Court  does not focus on the terminology. 08C‐431 (Tenn. and (5) the court must balance the First Amendment  interests of the anonymous poster against the strength of the plaintiff’s prima facie case and  the need for disclosure to allow the claims to proceed.”  Id. and that mere allegations of fact are insufficient. which requires the following five‐part test: (1) the plaintiff must  notify the poster that he or she is the subject of a subpoena or discovery request. at 8.  or sworn statement. The  court was unconvinced by Sedersten’s reliance on “two sentences in a two‐page document in  which the overarching theme is that information provided by a user of the site may be used for  various commercial purposes. 3." Id.  Id. at 7.” The court further explained that “[n]othing on the face of the  privacy policy even hints a user may be waiving his or her constitutional right to anonymous  free speech by posting comments or materials on the News‐Leader’s website. (4) the plaintiff must make a prima facie or substantial showing of proof  for each element of each cause of action. (3) the  plaintiff must identify the exact statements purportedly made by each anonymous poster that  give rise to each claim. deposition. the court cut through the semantic differences between the  various standards available to courts in anonymous speech cases:  As the Solers and Krinsky courts have noted. Oct. 2009).Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Id. The court determined that the Swartzes succeeded in making this substantial legal and  factual showing. and to disclose to third parties. Cir. but rather the requirement that a plaintiff make a  substantial legal and factual showing that the claims have merit before permitting  discovery of an anonymous defendant's identity. pointing out that they submitted copies of the offending blog posts and  testified regarding the falsity of the statements and damages.    In Swartz. a Tennessee trial court ruled that plaintiffs Donald and Terry Keller Swartz  were entitled to discover the identity of the anonymous blogger behind the “Stop Swartz” blog  who published critical statements about them and encouraged readers to post information on  their whereabouts and activities.  Swartz v. which reserved to the  newspaper "the right to use. all of the information collected  from and about [users] while [using] the Site in any way and for any purpose. the labels of "summary judgment" or even  "prima facie" are potentially confusing.    The court also rejected Sedersten’s argument that bornandraisedhere had waived First  Amendment protection by agreeing to the News‐Leader’s privacy policy. at *3. at *1. Have You?  bornandraisedhere was in fact the chief of police (a named defendant).”  Id. (2) the  plaintiff must give the poster reasonable time to file opposition to the application. With respect to prong four  of this test. No. By adopting the Dendrite analysis. the court indicated that the factual showing “must be made by affidavit. Doe.     In characterizing the test.  7    . Slip op. In ruling on the defendant’s motion to quash. Id.5. the court  adopted the Dendrite standard. at 9‐10. Ct.

 (4) require the plaintiff to proffer evidence creating a genuine issue of  material fact on each element of the claim that is within its control. Cohen  alleged that the blog author defamed her by calling her a “skank” and a “ho” and posting  photographs of her in provocative positions with sexually suggestive captions. under CPLR § 3102(c).     The D. so long as the other  elements of the test had been satisfied. 977 A. 977 A. Ct.S. 884  A.  Cohen v.. On appeal. Court of Appeals remanded the case to the  trial court for application of this test.  a party seeking pre‐action discovery must make a prima facie showing of a meritorious cause of  action before obtaining the identity of an anonymous defendant. and (5) determine that the  information sought is important to enable the plaintiff to proceed with his/her lawsuit. (2) require reasonable efforts to notify the  anonymous defendant that the complaint has been filed and the subpoena has been served. and Krinsky v. Cahill. Inc. Sup. Doe. Have You?  Solers v. App. 159 Cal. See 887 N. a New York trial court granted model Liskula Cohen pre‐suit discovery from  Google to reveal the identity of the anonymous publisher of the “Skanks in NYC” blog.S. at 427 n.C. Court of Appeals’ test most closely resembles those set out in Doe v.Y.5. Id. With respect to the fifth prong.” The court ruled that.5.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. 2009). at  954‐56. The D. the court indicated that it would not require a showing  that the plaintiff had exhausted alternative sources for the information.2d at 958. It  requires a court to follow five steps before ordering the disclosure of an anonymous or  pseudonymous speaker's identity: (1) ensure that the plaintiff has adequately pleaded the  elements of a defamation (or other) claim.Y. While acknowledging the First Amendment issues at stake and citing Dendrite.C.2d at 426‐27 &  n. Google.C. which  provides for discovery “to aid in bringing an action. 2005). 887 N. 2008).C.    In Cohen.App. (3)  delay further action for a reasonable time to allow the defendant an opportunity to file a  motion to quash.2d 424 (N.2d 941 (D.” Id.      In Solers.  seeking information about the anonymous defendant’s identity.2d 451 (Del. Ct. the court  opined that New York law’s requirement of a prima facie showing “appear[s] to address the  constitutional concerns raised in this context. a software developer sued a John Doe defendant for defamation and tortious  interference over an anonymous tip submitted to an industry watchdog group claiming that the  software developer had engaged in software privacy. 4th 1154 (Cal.  8    .Y. Solers subpoenaed the watchdog group. Doe 6. Court of  Appeals adopted a protective standard for its lower courts to follow and emphasized that a  plaintiff "must do more than simply plead his case" to unmask an anonymous speaker claimed  to have violated the law. the D. 2009).    The court analyzed the discovery request under New York CPLR § 3102(c). all creating the  false impression that she is sexually promiscuous.

 Bogdanos. 2004). Does. and Doe I v.  finding that the “skank” and “ho” statements. 08 Civ. rev’d on other grounds.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. 24. the court granted  the motion to quash with respect to three of the commenters because their comments did not  contain the same highly relevant information and “appear[ed] to be nothing more than  conversation/discussion. 2d 249 (D. the court ruled that. the court  ruled that these commenters were not sources because the Telegraph reporter did not use any  information supplied by them “in researching.N. 08‐MR‐548 (Ill. at 6. Somewhat confusingly. 2008). Nevertheless. the state had  “satisfied its burden to divest the Telegraph of its privilege” because it had exhausted all other  sources of information and the sources were relevant. conveyed a factual assertion that Cohen was sexually promiscuous. Ct. Id. Neither the court nor the parties raised the issue of the  commenters’ First Amendment rights to speak anonymously.    In Zherka. or writing the article. .  2001).” and “none  of the comments were written until after the article was published. Illinois. 561 F. rather than  an expression of protected opinion. along with the sexually suggestive photographs  and captions.N.D. In ruling on the motion to quash. Illinois. Inc. investigating. at 5.” Id. 542 S. the court  applied a multi‐part test derived from Dendrite. Supp.2d 377 (Va. Cir. Individuals. May 15. at 7.   Zherka v. The court rejected the Alton Telegraph’s argument that the pseudonymous  commenters were “sources” protected by the Illinois shield law. in rejecting the  blogger’s argument that her statements should be viewed as opinion because “as a matter of  law .     While acknowledging in the abstract that commenters could serve as sources. Id.” the court cited an old case from Virginia.Y. which applied a lenient “good faith” standard to a discovery request seeking the identity  of an anonymous commenter.  9    . an Illinois trial court denied in part the Alton Telegraph’s  motion to quash a subpoena issued by state prosecutors seeking the identity of five  pseudonymous posters who commented on a Telegraph story about an ongoing murder  investigation.). including  invective and ranting. This reference is best understood as dicta. Id. Feb. at 428‐29.E. 2009).Y.2d 556 (S. because the  court invoked the case in dealing with a peripheral point. 2000 WL 1210372 (Va. even if the shield law did apply to the case. the AOL test is  inconsistent with CPLR § 3102’s requirement of a “prima facie showing of a meritorious cause  of website..    In Alton Telegraph v. 2062 (S. Sony Music Entertainment v. a federal district court in the Southern District of New York granted The  Journal News’ motion to quash subpoenas seeking the identities of three pseudonymous  posters to a forum on the LoHud. Internet blogs serve as a modern day forum for conveying personal opinions. Ct. .” which the court invoked to sidestep First Amendment analysis.Supp.” Slip op. 326  F. In the  alternative. at 427 n. Cir. In re Subpoena Duces Tecum to  America Online. Conn. Have You?    The court held that Cohen adequately made this prima facie showing of defamation.5. Furthermore.D. 2009).  Alton Telegraph v. however.

 indicating that “a test requiring notice and  opportunity to be heard. the court indicated that the First Amendment interests of the posters under prong five  would be diminished if the website privacy policy warned that identifying information would be disclosed in  response to court order or other legal process. at 28. In the process. (2) the plaintiff has to provide the court with the full  statements which are at issue. including posting a  message of notification of the discovery request on the message board.” such as the Dendrite standard. at 32. under which a court should take the  following steps before ordering disclosure of the identity of an anonymous or pseudonymous  speaker: (1) require the plaintiff to undertake efforts to notify the anonymous posters that they  are the subject of a subpoena or application for an order of disclosure. The plaintiff.   Brodie v.    In applying this standard.2d 432 (Md.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. laying out the prima facie case. Tr. Tr. The court gave the  plaintiff permission to re‐serve the subpoena after discovery between the named parties and  stated that “it should be done with appropriate notice as outlined above. the court gave considerable weight to prong four. 2009). (3) the plaintiff must make a concrete showing of a prima facie  case. “most appropriately balances a speaker's  constitutional right to anonymous Internet speech with a plaintiff's right to seek judicial redress  from defamatory remarks.13 See Zherka. it clarified the  appropriate standard for the lower courts. 966 A. finding that  the plaintiff had failed to pursue alternative means of identifying the posters and suggesting  that the named defendants likely knew the posters’ identities. Zherka. coupled with a showing of a prima facie case and the application of a  balancing test.   13 10    . Zebulon Brodie. sought the identities of the  commenters to pursue a defamation action against them over statements on a website forum  criticizing Brodie for selling his historic home to another developer who allegedly burned it  down and accusing Brodie of maintaining a dirty Dunkin' Donuts franchise.” Id. Id. and with concurrent  filing to me showing the full statements. The court did not provide detailed reasoning on  this point. and describing why  there are no effective alternative means to get the information. Independent Newspapers. and (5) if all the other elements are satisfied.    In Brodie.” 966 A. The Court of Appeals  ruled that Brodie’s subpoena should have been quashed. at 28‐31.     The Court of Appeals spelled out a five‐part test. at 30‐31. (4) the court should consider whether the information is available through alternate  means. (2) withhold action to  afford the anonymous posters a reasonable opportunity to file and serve opposition to the                                                                Interestingly. Have You?  which has the following elements: (1) the plaintiff must make a reasonable attempt to provide  notice to the anonymous poster.2d at 456. the court must balance the First  Amendment interests of the anonymous posters against the need for disclosure in order to  allow the plaintiff to proceed. the Court of Appeals of Maryland reversed the trial court’s order denying  Independent Newspapers’ motion to quash a subpoena seeking the identity of five  pseudonymous commenters.

” posted a comment on Democratic Underground.” 596 F. “TubeSockTedD”  uploaded a video to YouTube stating that Sinclair was “spreading lies about Obama.” Another  Internet user. (4) determine  whether the complaint has set forth a prima facie defamation per se or per quod action against  the anonymous posters. alleged to constitute actionable speech. 2d at 134. “OWNINGLIARS. TubeSockTedD. Sinclair  filed a John Doe lawsuit for defamation against all three and sought identifying information  from the relevant Internet service providers.  under either the Cahill or the Dendrite standard. a federal district court in the District of Columbia quashed a subpoena  seeking the identities of three pseudonymous Internet users.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. In conclusion. the court ruled that Sinclair's defamation claims failed as a matter of law because he  did not plead either actual malice or special damages. “mzmolly. Supp. A third. In response. (3) require the plaintiff to identify and set forth the exact statements purportedly  made by each anonymous poster.C.   Sinclair v.    The court granted the motion to quash and dismissed the complaint in its entirety. stating that  Sinclair was a mental patient who was institutionalized on the date in 1999 when he claimed to  have encountered Obama. Specifically. In  addition. 2d 128 (D. Sinclair was not entitled to the requested  discovery because his complaint was facially invalid. at 457. the court determined that  Sinclair's complaint did not plead facts necessary to establish the court's subject‐matter  jurisdiction over the case or personal jurisdiction over the pseudonymous defendants. Sinclair has  provided no ground to do so here. there is simply no basis to overcome  the considerable First Amendment interest in anonymous speech on the Internet. Have You?  application. Supp. the court stated: “Where  the viability of a plaintiff’s case is so seriously deficient. plaintiff Lawrence  Sinclair published a YouTube video and blog claiming that he had engaged in sexual activities  and done drugs with then‐presidential candidate Barack Obama.” posted a comment on stating  that Sinclair was a liar and was in a mental hospital when he claimed he met Obama. balance the anonymous poster’s First  Amendment right of free speech against the strength of the prima facie case of defamation  presented by the plaintiff and the necessity for disclosure of the anonymous defendant’s  identity. It  surveyed the case law on the First Amendment right to speak anonymously and held that. 2009).D.     The Court of Appeals ruled that Brodie did not have a valid cause of action against the  posters because statements made by certain posters were not actionable and the statute of  limitations had run against other posters not named in Brodie’s complaint. at 449. and because section 230 of the  Communications Decency Act protected mzmolly and OWNINGLIARS for "simply summarizing  and reporting information obtained from" a third party. and (5) if all else is satisfied. 596 F.   11    . In early 2008.    In Sinclair. and the pseudonymous posters moved to quash. See id.

Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Id. Have You?    Although the court quashed the subpoena and dismissed the complaint. it refused to  award mzmolly and Democratic Underground sanctions against Sinclair because of the novel  areas of law involved.4. at 134 n.    12    .

 Although the  DMCA as a whole extended the reach of copyright law and is generally regarded as favoring the  interests of copyright owners. Such situations may arise when a user of an internet service provider finds its  content to be the target of a DMCA takedown notice sent to.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.C. These provisions shield online service providers. contains the DMCA's "safe‐harbor" provisions  for online service providers. a hosting provider  complaining that the user is posting copyright infringing material and asking the hosting  provider to remove or disable access to it. Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). § 512. a user might post something in user  comments on another blog or website that elicits a takedown notice. promptly removing content when a copyright owner sends notification that  material is infringing in cases where the online publisher did not have knowledge that the  material in question is infringing.     1    . DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act    In 1998. hosting providers.S. Have You?      RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: SECTION 512. an incentive to take down infringing material when someone sends a notice  complaining about it. their trademarks. for example.    The DMCA gives online service providers. Less commonly. but also enables the user to send a “counter‐notice” to get the material  put back up. like website  operators. ISPs. 17 U. it also created provisions limiting the liability of certain online  actors. or  certain confidential business information without the permission of the owner may be exposing  themselves to legal liability for violations of intellectual property law. Section 512 of the DMCA.     Safe‐harbor for Internet Service Providers Under DMCA Section 512    Online publishers that publish or use the creative work of others. and search engines. online service providers need to implement "notice‐and‐takedown"  procedures that call for expeditious removal of content upon receipt of a valid takedown notice  from a copyright owner. To take advantage of the  safe‐harbor provisions. from copyright infringement claims  made against them based on the conduct of their customers or users. online  publishers that allow their users to post this type of content can protect themselves from  copyright infringement claims under the DMCA by establishing effective “notice‐and‐takedown”  procedures. Fortunately. like the hosting service and other website  operators.

. but it may help them avoid copyright infringement liability.  pointer. or know  any surrounding facts that would make the infringing use apparent. and  2    . index. a photograph. relates to links to other online  material located elsewhere.g. under section 512(d). under section 512(c). They are not legally required to  do so. Have You?    Online publishers should consider implementing these procedures and taking the  administrative steps required to enjoy safe‐harbor protection. by using information location tools. and (3) properly comply with takedown notices when received. This could include a file (e. or hypertext link. a film clip. The three main things an  online publisher needs to do to take advantage of the safe‐harbor provisions are (1) designate a  copyright agent to receive takedown notices." so long as the administrator:    (1) does not have actual knowledge that there is infringing content on the servers. reference. the administrator of a website or other service will not be held liable for money  damages for infringing content posted "at the direction of a user. the language of this section appears to relieve the online publisher of liability so long  as the online publisher:    (1) does not have actual knowledge that the material is infringing. This safe‐harbor provision states that an online service provider  will not be held liability for money damages “for infringement of copyright by reason of the  provider referring or linking users to an online location containing infringing material or  infringing activity.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Under this  safe‐harbor. or know any surrounding  facts that would make the infringement apparent  (2) does not receive any financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity if it  has the ability to control such activity.     There are two safe‐harbor provisions that potentially apply to online publishing  activities:    The first safe‐harbor provision. (2) adopt and communicate to users an effective  "copyright infringement policy".” If a website links to material without knowing that it infringed  copyright. relates to materials posted to a blog or  website at the direction of a user. including a directory. and  (3) acts expeditiously to remove or disable access to the infringing material upon obtaining  knowledge or awareness that the material is infringing or upon receiving a properly  drafted notice of infringement.    The second safe‐harbor provision. an  audio file) that a user posts to a comment section on the site or to a forum thread.  (2) does not receive any financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity if it  has the ability to control such activity.

  which can be the website administrator or someone else who agrees to do it. Rather. website operators and administrators must meet the  administrative requirements. Copyright Office maintains a list of designated agents to receive notices of  claimed copyright infringement.    These safe‐harbor provisions could be valuable protections for online publishers. This list enables copyright owners who believe that their work  is being infringed to send complaints or "takedown notices" to internet service providers  hosting or linking to the disputed material. Note however. which must include:  3    .           1. The statement should explain that the online publisher will  respond expeditiously to notices of claimed copyright infringement and terminate users or  account holders who are "repeat infringers. liability will depend on the independent principles of direct and  secondary infringement. Designate a Copyright Agent to Receive DMCA Takedown Notices     The U. in order to take  advantage of the DMCA safe‐harbor provisions.    Administrative Requirements for Section 512 Safe‐Harbor Protection    There are a few additional administrative steps that an online publisher must take to enjoy the  benefits of the safe‐harbor provisions.     In order to qualify for the safe‐harbor protections.        2. To do this. the publisher files an Interim  Designation with the United States Copyright Office. Have You?    (3) acts expeditiously to remove or disable access to the infringing material (such as by  taking away the link) upon obtaining knowledge or awareness that the material is  infringing or upon receiving a properly drafted notice of infringement. the existence of the safe‐harbor provisions does  not imply that an online publisher will be held liable for copyright infringement if it opts not to  use the safe‐harbors. the online publisher must also  publish a statement on the website giving notice to users of the DMCA agent's contact  information and policies regarding copyright infringement and the consequences of repeated  infringing activity. along with an $105 filing fee. Adopt and Communicate to Users a Copyright Infringement Policy. The notice can be a part of the website's terms of use or some other notice  displayed prominently on the site. An online publisher will need to designate an agent."     Websites may also want to include a statement detailing the proper form for a notice of  claimed infringement.S.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. but in  order to take advantage of them.

 Properly Comply with A Notice of Claimed Infringement When Received     Online publishers may from time to time receive a notice of claimed infringement from  a copyright owner. telephone number. the online publisher is  required to:    (1) expeditiously remove or disable access to the material that is claimed to be infringing  (there is little guidance on what counts as "expeditious").  The website’s policy statement should also include a statement explaining the procedure for  users of the site to make a counter‐notification. If the copyright notification substantially  meets these formal requirements.C.    Additional Legal Considerations    4    . in order to qualify for the safe‐harbor. § 512(c)(3)(B) states that if a complaining party does not substantially comply with  these requirements.  (4) information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the  complaining party (e. its notice will not serve as "actual notice" for the purpose of Section 512. Such a  notice must comply with the form outlined above. Have You?      (1) a physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of  the infringed copyright.  (3) if proper counter‐notice is provided.    17 U. alleging that content on the site infringes the holder's copyright.        3. notify the copyright holder and provide a copy of  that counter‐notice.  (3) identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of  infringing activity and that is to be removed.  (5) a statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material is  not authorized by the copyright owner.  (2) notify its user or subscriber that the material has been removed so that they may file a  counter‐notice should they wish (the online publisher is not required to notify the user  before removing the material).g. and  (6) a statement that information in the complaint is accurate and that the complaining  party is authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner.  (2) identification of the copyrighted work or works claimed to have been infringed. the address.S. restore the removed material. and  (4) if proper counter‐notice is provided and if the copyright holder does not file suit within  10 business days.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. or email address)..

 online publishers  may be protected by section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for publishing the  statements of its users. There may be times when an online publisher  receives a DMCA takedown notice for material that is technically not eligible for safe‐harbor  treatment. such as material posted by the online publisher itself. and the user has the  right to submit a counter‐notice asking that the material be put back up. This could potentially exacerbate a delicate  situation. but the user should not delay unreasonably in doing  so. Have You?    The DMCA gets a great deal of attention in discussions of online speech. It is not sufficient. If it satisfies the complaining  person that the material is taken down. A website  administrator should look at the precise allegations and legal claims made in the letter and  evaluate what next steps need to be taken. In many situations. The DMCA requires a service provider to notify its user  promptly when it removes any content because of a takedown notice. (A service provider may replace the disputed material after ten business days if  5    . But it is important to remember that other legal issues may also affect online  publishing activities. for example.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. There is no specific  time limit for submitting a counter‐notice. The DMCA safe‐harbor provisions apply only to claims of copyright  infringement. This  means that an online publisher cannot insulate itself from liability on one of these other claims  simply by "expeditiously removing" the disputed content. If it receives a counter‐notice. and there is no serious objection. Not every threatening letter is a DMCA takedown notice. to name just a few of the possibilities. or  claims alleging misappropriation of trade secrets. defamation claims. to conclude that a  cease‐and‐desist letter relating to defamation or trade secrets law is somehow "defective" and  should be ignored because it has not met the formal requirements for a notice of claimed  copyright infringement under section 512. the online service provider is required to replace the disputed  content unless the complaining party sues the user within fourteen business days of the  counter‐notice. especially in  technical circles.     Not Every Threatening Letter is a DMCA Takedown Notice    Website and blog operators get cease‐and‐desist letters based on non‐copyright claims  with some frequency.     The confusion may also work in reverse. the online publisher  should consider doing so.    Procedure For Filing a Counter‐Notice    The DMCA notice‐and‐takedown procedures also provide protection from a wrongful  claim of copyright infringement. They do not apply to trademark infringement claims.

 There are two reasons to consider this  carefully. That said.).)    Before the user sends a counter‐notice. If the user  is not prepared to stand up in a lawsuit.    To work effectively.  (3) identification of the material and its location before it was removed. Have You?    the complaining party has not filed a lawsuit.  (5) the user’s consent to the jurisdiction of a federal court in the district where you live (if  you are in the U. a counter‐notice must contain the following items:    (1) the user’s physical or electronic signature. Users should be extra careful when relying on a claim of fair use to justify sending a  counter‐notice.S. under penalty of perjury. address.). sending a counter‐notice may trigger a lawsuit. fact‐ specific analysis. which are meant solely to intimidate the target. Second. the counter‐notice requires that the user state.  (2) the user’s name. Determining whether something is a fair use often requires a complex. A prompt counter‐notice can  make these empty threats go away for good.    Some common bases for sending a counter‐notice are that the complaining party does  not own copyright in the work in question ‐‐ either because it is not covered by copyright or  because someone else owns the copyright to it ‐‐ and that the use of the copyrighted work is a  fair use. but it is required to replace it within fourteen  business days. and phone number. she should consider carefully whether she is in  fact infringing the complaining party's copyright. if the complaining  party has a good infringement claim.  (4) a statement under penalty of perjury that the material was removed by mistake or  misidentification. copyright owners sometimes send bogus takedown notices that have no basis  in law or fact. First.S.S. § 512(g)(3). or your consent to the jurisdiction of a federal court in the district  where your service provider is located (if you are not in the U. and even expensive copyright lawyers have difficulty predicting what a court  will say about fair use ahead of time. she should think twice about firing back a counter‐ notice. you  should examine the four fair use factors carefully and consider contacting an intellectual  property attorney. that  you have a good faith belief that her material was wrongly removed.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.C.     6    .    17 U. If you believe fair use might protect your client. and  (6) the user’s consent to accept service of process from the party who submitted the  takedown notice.

 Supp. v.N.) judgment. YouTube. 2004). then the copyright owner can win damages from the user. June 23.S.     Recent Cases    Viacom Int’l Inc. (S. For instance. non‐U.000 in damages and fees to  settle the lawsuit. finding that  portions of the email archive were so clearly subject to the fair use defense that "[n]o  reasonable copyright holder could have believed that [they] were protected by copyright. Diebold subsequently agreed to pay $125.S. resident. The defendant YouTube operates a website  that allows users to upload video files free of charge. Someone who has sent a baseless takedown notice may be more inclined to  back off if they are reminded about section 512(f) of the DMCA."  According to the EFF. residents may not want to send a counter‐notice unless they are willing to  fight a copyright infringement claim in the U. These video files are copied and  formatted by YouTube’s computer systems and made available for viewing on the website.S.S.D.. that this provision  also works against a person or company sending a wrongful takedown notice. 07 Civ. See 17 U. in addition to receiving a  counter‐notice. residents give up a powerful argument they would otherwise have ‐‐ namely. Inc. If the user claims in a counter‐notice  that the content does not infringe the complaining party's copyrighted work while knowing this  to be false.S. Diebold.S.  then this may not be a significant concession because a plaintiff would not be able to enforce a  judgment against her in the U. in  Online Policy Group v. Have You?    If the user is not a U. Cal. 2d 1195 (N. a plaintiff might be able to convince a court in  the user’s country to enforce a foreign (U.  The court granted summary judgment to the students and ISP on their claim. court in  her counter‐notice.. Inc. 2103. If the user will never come to the United States and has no assets here.   7    .S. 2010). sending a counter‐notice  makes non‐U. In any event.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed.S.  that a U. Note. including court costs and  attorneys' fees stemming from the wrongful counter‐notice. No.    This case affirmed the safe‐harbor provisions for online service providers who provide  “storage at the direction of a user” under DMCA § 512(c). so long as the online service provider  complies with the administrative requirements. court does not have the authority to render a judgment against them. For these  reasons. 337 F.D. two students and  their ISP sued voting machine manufacturer Diebold after it tried to use DMCA takedown  notices to disable access to Internet postings of the company's leaked internal email archive.C.Y. In recent years. she must consent to the jurisdiction of a U. Nevertheless. however.S.  the targets of wrongful takedowns have fought back and won damages and favorable  settlements from individuals and companies sending bogus takedown notices. § 512(f).    Section 512(f) of the DMCA creates liability for knowingly making false claims in a DMCA  takedown notice or counter‐notice.

 Inc.   8    . It is thus protected ‘from liability for all monetary relief for direct. It was also “uncontroverted that when YouTube was given the notices. No. but merely the top‐level URL for the  entire website. or by uploading images onto Google’s servers. v. July 26. 2010). v.D.      Perfect 10. Account holders may display images on their blogs either by using hyperlinks to  content hosted on other servers.       The court held that YouTube had designated an agent to receive copyright infringement  notices.” Citing Perfect 10. it removed the  material. CCBill LLC.000 distinct files. a service that allows account holders to create their own blogs hosted on Google’s  servers.  488 F. and a hard drive or DVD containing electronic files. . in order to find which link was allegedly infringing. and screen shots of  Google search results.000  images in order to identify the copyrighted work that was infringed.. instead  requiring Google to search through a separate electronic folder containing more than 15. the court stressed that “[t]he DMCA notification procedures  place the burden of policing copyright infringement –identifying the potentially infringing  material and adequately documenting infringement—squarely on the owners of the copyright. a spreadsheet. Google provides  Blogger. 9484. Have You?    Viacom claimed that thousands of videos on YouTube contained Viacom’s copyrighted works  without authorization and that YouTube had knowledge of infringing activity.” Google at *15. Google. 09 Civ. “evidently expecting Google to comb through hundreds of nested electronic  folders containing over 70.Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed. Blogger accounts are terminated if Google determines that three DMCA  notices of infringement were valid    Among the takedown notices sent by Perfect 10 to Google were those that generally  consisted of a cover letter.” Google at *17.     The court ruled that these notices were defective because “they do not contain all of  the required information in a single written communication.  The spreadsheets did not identify the infringing URLs. Google has a  DMCA notification policy for the service and requires complaints to be sent to Google’s  designated agent. . The  spreadsheets also did not identify the copyrighted work that was allegedly infringed.” Viacom at *23. Inc. vicarious and  contributory infringement’ subject to the specific provisions of the DMCA. including raw image files . 1113 (9th Cir.      This recent case underscored the requirement that a copyright holder must submit an  adequate takedown notice to constitute notice of copyright infringement. Inc. 2007). (C. Cal.”  These notices that Perfect 10 submitted to Google would impermissibly “shift a substantial  burden from the copyright owner to the provider.3d 1102.

 your Operating  Agreement can say that a 5% ownership would receive 50% of the profits.  Not so fast.  It is a flexible business tool.  Your choices are: (1) a  Public‐Owned Corporation.  Under state and  federal law.  You are required to  maximize profits for the shareholders.  Taxation is flexible. (3) a Low‐Profit Limited  Liability Company or “L3C.    Limited Liability Company     Next we have a Limited Liability Company. I strongly doubt that you want to be saddled  with a public‐owned corporation from start‐up.” (4) a Non‐Profit Business.  For instance.  What comes first.  Operations can be flexible too: you can write an Operating  Agreement that overrides many rules of corporate governance.    Low‐Profit Limited Liability Company    1    STARTING AN INDEPENDENT NEWS ORGANIZATION  BUSINESS LAW AND OTHER CONSIDERATIONS  PAUL KRITZER  . strategy or structure?    Logic would argue:  first agree to the strategy – and then build the organization to enable  delivery. communities and societal  concerns.  You can’t do that  with a corporation. pay out profits in exact proportion to percentage of  ownership. an entrepreneur will find a corporation to be a strait‐jacket.  An LLC is a hybrid.      Publicly‐Owned Company    At the outset let’s dismiss the idea of forming a publicly‐owned corporation. or “LLC”?  The idea of a LLC took hold 20 years ago  and swept across the nation.  Corporate governance and taxation policies are rigid and inflexible.  I was general  counsel for 24 years with a media company that went public in 2003. and for the next 5 years I  spent 2 hours on Sarbanes‐Oxley federal compliance issues for each 1 hour of newsroom legal  work.  It combines the best features of a partnership  with the best features of a corporation.  You  need to choose a form of business.  For an industry that is fading and changing. (2) a Limited Liability Corporation of “LLC”. and you need outside financing.    You’re starting a new media company.    Let me say a few introductory words about the different business structures available.    What if the structure turns out to be incapable or feeble in supporting and accommodating the  business plan?  Then your strategy might fail and the business slips and fails to gain traction. and subjugate the interests and needs of employees.  because you can choose between being taxed like a partnership (with flow‐through directly to  the owners) or like a corporation. (5) a partnership or (6) a sole  proprietorship.  Corporations are already the source of many  problems in the economy.

”  A L3C can have several layers or traunches or  investors.      When it invests in a L3C. and it’s called a “Low‐Profit Limited Liability Company.  A handful states.  But they can be used to initiate and support L3Cs – to the mutual benefit  of the private foundation and the L3C.  This benefits the L3C.  But to accept the L3C model. private foundation funds rarely seek to support  corporations or LLCs. and  it can re‐pay the foundation with dividends.  and Montana have followed.  Keep in mind that a L3C’s primary mission is not to maximize profits.    Under the federal tax code.  Vermont was the first state to adopt a law  authorizing L3C. including my home state of Wisconsin. and you are allowed to pay dividends  to your investors.  They  invest for societal reasons.  But what if a private foundation can make an investment in a hybrid L3C and get  some money back. and their influence on societal causes would  be enhanced. a private foundation expects it may be an investment with high risk  and lower‐than‐normal pay‐out. they would have more to give. the business owner  must announce that the primary purpose of his company is a societal goal and profits are a  secondary after‐thought. private foundations get no money back from their gifts.  About a dozen other states are considering L3C legislation. private foundations must give away 5% of their assets every year.  To be a L3C. enhance its societal mission and stay  within the non‐profit rules of the IRS.  They are aiming for a different type of bottom line. and it did so only 2 years ago.    So a L3C business is designed to receive funds from a new source ‐‐ grants or loans from private  foundations. your business’ primary purpose must be a societal goal – and not a  profit goal.      Because of the IRS rules concerning non‐profits. have rejected the concept. you are allowed to make a profit.     The L3C combines best features of a Limited Liability Company and the best features of a Non‐ Profit Business. a societal  bottom line.   Under normal circumstances. it is to  pursue a societal interest. through dividends or redemption?  This pay‐back would stretch their  charitable dollars. and the production of a profit is incidental and secondary. Illinois.     So the L3C has the special feature that it can receive investments from private foundations. including Michigan.  And  some states.  A private  foundation can invest in a L3C.  With a L3C.    Non‐Profit Business    2    .”  or “L3C”. loans or debt. Each traunche can have a lesser degree of risk and higher pay‐out. which is also allowed to seek  investments from the open market which would demand a lower risk and higher pay‐out.  This is the next step of business hybrid.  The  Wall Street people call these “traunches.  Plus a L3C has a unique feature:  your investors can include private  foundations ‐ which make contributions through grants.  Your next alternative is something new. get some money back.

 membership dues. funds from  corporations.      For example.      Second.        I’m not going to say much about partnerships and sole proprietorships except this:  they  leave you naked. you definitely need legal protection for your personal assets.  Our fourth option is a tax‐free. it’s just 2 years since Vermont authorized L3Cs. the IRS and Treasury Department haven’t formally blessed the arrangement.  upon administration changes or sometimes for no good reason at all. government agencies).  We are looking  for a pioneer. the one of best newsgathering organizations on activities in state capitols in the  past decade was stateline.      With that thought.    3    .  If you are in a business where you are throwing inflammatory words  around and people are threatening to sue you for libel. which was incubated and generously supported by the Pew  Charitable Trusts. private foundations and government agencies get cut or deleted in tight invasion of privacy or copyright  infringement on a frequent basis.  That would be like PBS.  Your non‐profit business will be fine … so long as you keep the fund  grantors happy and they decide to keep the funding tap open.  But you can form a L3C company in Vermont for just $100 and then operate it in  your home state. Membership  dues and merchandise sales aren’t enough to float the boat.       First.   That makes the private foundation people nervous.  But recently Pew said ten years of support was enough.      Support for non‐profits – in the absence of significant advertising ‐ comes from grants (from  corporations.  But. its key managers  were shuffled elsewhere and stateline. let’s draw on the collective wisdom of our panel members. non‐profit entity.  Unless you are incorporated.  But the L3C legislation in each state was  carefully drafted to comply with the IRS rules. as we know. Window to the World  (owner of public television and radio stations in Chicago) or you don’t have protection for your personal  assets from legal liability. and only a few states have  followed suit. private’s umbilical cord to funding was cut. subscriptions and  retail sales of merchandise.      Let me say just a few more words about the L3C structure.  There’s  a lot of private foundation money just waiting for you.        So far I haven’t heard of a new media company being formed as a L3C.

 if your online activities are part of an existing business. if you lack the money to carry out  a vigorous defense. copyright infringement). it might be worth  getting media liability insurance. and the cost skyrockets the longer the litigation continues. even if such policies initially appear to be prohibitively  expensive.  This is  especially important if you make any money from your online activities. Consult your  insurance agent for costs and details. Carefully review your existing insurance policies to see if claims related to your online  activities are covered (e. invasion of privacy.       2. particularly if judgment is  rendered against you. Consider whether your state's law excludes coverage for your specific activities. Consider whether media liability insurance might be a better option (for many. it may be  prohibitively expensive.    Here are a list of steps to take when evaluating your insurance coverage needs:       1. Review  the section on Homeowners and Renters Insurance Coverage in this guide for help in making  this determination.g. you may be  able to add coverage to your business insurance policy through an add‐on rider.       3. claims for libel. but the coverage can be quite comprehensive). Alternatively. See the section on  Media Liability Insurance for help. carefully weigh whether the income you receive is worth the loss in  coverage. See the section on Evaluating Homeowners and Renters Insurance  Policies for guidance. If your current insurance policies don't cover you. If your state excludes coverage for business pursuits and you make sufficient money from  your site to be excluded. See the section on  Insurance Exclusions for Business Pursuits for information. If your activities are not covered.. consider switching to another carrier that  will provide coverage.       5. While most lawsuits never get to trial.      4    MEDIA LIABILITY INSURANCE  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT  . it is important to assess whether your online activities are covered by your  existing homeowners or renters insurance.          Even frivolous lawsuits dismissed at a relatively early stage of the litigation can be expensive to  defend. the only option available to you may be to settle (perhaps even to take  down the allegedly offending content or even your entire site) regardless of the merits of your  defense.    For these reasons.       4.

 When a user creates a  comment (or any other original expression) and posts it to your website. Users explicitly agree to the terms when they sign up for an account and.    Terms of use are also useful in dealing with user‐generated content.    The second is taking steps to bring your site within the "safe‐harbor" provisions of the Digital  Millennium Copyright Act. there are some basic steps to consider that will reduce your legal  risks. which informs your users of  your practices relating to private information and helps you avoid liability under a complex  array of federal and state privacy laws. Absent an agreement or license (see the Allowing Others to Use  5    . which can help you avoid liability for linking to other sites containing  copyright infringing material and for hosting copyright infringing material posted by your users. But keep in mind that terms of use  can also apply to visitors merely browsing the website or posting comments (assuming you  allow comments without an account. your site's terms of use govern your relationship  with users. First.     Terms of use (or "terms of service" or "terms and conditions") generally are a statement placed  on an easily visible place on a website that governs the relationship between the site and its  users or visitors.    LAUNCHING A WEBSITE FOR NEWS ORGANIZATIONS  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    There are two key documents or statements that all websites should post before (or at least  soon after) going "live" on the Internet. the user owns the  copyright to that comment. The following sections address these two important  documents in greater detail and provide examples that you can follow in creating your own  terms of use and privacy policy.  depending on how you write the terms.    Terms of use are especially important if your website gives out accounts because they help  specify the mechanics of how the account system will work. One is creating terms of use/service and a privacy policy for your site or blog. They enable you to reserve the right to deny access to users  who engage in objectionable conduct and to remove content that you find offensive or that  may subject you to liability from third parties.    Why Is It a Good Idea to Have Terms of Use?    Terms of use help you put your users on notice of what you consider to be an acceptable use of  your site and what you do not. visitors may implicitly agree to them when they use the  site. you should create a privacy policy. allowing you to set boundaries of acceptable behavior by your users and potentially  limiting your liability. which many do not). Second.     As a website or blog operator. which will  help you structure your relationship with your users and let them know what your practices are  regarding personal information. It also gives you an opportunity to put language  up on your website that may help protect you in the event of a lawsuit.

 infringing of intellectual  property rights. obscene.     • a provision or provisions reserving your right to terminate or restrict access to a user's  account. perpetual.    • guidelines for acceptable user‐generated content. even if users own the copyright to that content. change. defamatory.     • a reservation of your copyright and trademark rights or information about a Creative  Commons or other collaborative licensing arrangement under which the content on the  site is licensed. including. without limitation. and remove all content posted  to the website.  Your Work section for details). publicly display. distribute. transmit. you could be held liable for copyright infringement for editing or  changing the comment. invasive of privacy or otherwise injurious or objectionable. you can specify (and  make clear to users) that you will have a license to edit. royalty‐free. however.  reproduce. and    6    . such as:    Content may not be illegal. terms of use should set out the ground rules for your site. and to delete any content posted through it. By posting terms of use on your website. such as:    • By posting or contributing content using these Services. and/or to incorporate it into a  collective work. These provisions in the terms of use give you effective control of user‐ generated content on your site. you are granting [name of your  website] a non‐exclusive. translate and reformat your content. threatening.    • provisions relating to inter‐user relations. Here are some  key items you should consider including in your terms:    • terms about creating and accessing accounts. not necessarily to prohibit anonymous  or pseudonymous speech).  the license rights to copy. edit.    • a provision conditioning the posting of user‐generated content on the grant of a license to  the website to use and alter the content of the posting.  What Should You Include in Terms of Use?    As discussed above.    • a provision prohibiting the impersonation of another person (the point here is to stop a  user from misleading others about their identity. such as clauses prohibiting on‐site and offline  harassment.    • a disclaimer of affiliation and/or responsibility for material posted or linked to the  website. and worldwide license to use your  content in connection with the operation of the Services. publicly perform.

 It frequently explains whether and how the website uses cookies.    • a statement reminding users that the website operators may have to disclose user  information in response to warrants.  . subpoenas. and with whom (if anyone) you intend to share it.  What Should You Include in a Privacy Policy?    A well‐crafted privacy policy should include the following items (although the particular items  included may depend upon the nature of your website):    • a statement explaining what kind of information you collect about your users. including parent  companies or subsidiaries. a privacy policy will help you avoid  liability under a complex array of state and federal laws dealing with users' private information. see the CMLP's Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy. reads. or that their contact information not be used to send unsolicited correspondence  (again.    Why Is It a Good Idea to Have a Privacy Policy?    Privacy policies let people know what you will do with information that they provide when  registering with your website. or downloads information from the site. Beyond that. or other valid legal process.    • an opt‐out procedure for users to request that their information not be shared with third  parties. how you  use it. and  for details see the Protecting Yourself Against Copyright Claims Based on User Content  page. A  privacy policy allows users to find out what you do with their private information and enables  them to adapt their conduct accordingly.    • a statement disclosing whether and how you use cookies and/or other tracking software.    • a statement reminding users that data is collected through a server access log when a  user browses.    • a description of the process through which users can request changes to any of the  personally identifying information collected and/or stored (you can provide an email  address for notifying the website operator of changes).    • a description of the process through which the website operator will notify users of  changes to the privacy policy. Privacy policies generally explain  whether and how users' information will be shared with third parties.  •   A privacy policy is a statement placed in an easily visible place on a website informing users  about how the website deals with users' personal information. this can be done with an email address). as well as information that gets logged while they browse.    7    a provision linking users and visitors to your copyright infringement policy ‐‐ for an  example of this kind of policy.

 user configuration settings. When a user visits a website. among other things. For more information about how to comply with the  Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. and downloading material.       • a statement identifying the effective date of the policy." While this kind of statement may sound reassuring for your users.     There are also rules about collecting medical information and information about criminal  records. it must comply with the  Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. it  is not true in most cases.    What Should You Avoid?    It is common to see the following statement in website privacy policies: "[Name of website] will  not collect any personal information about you except when you specifically and knowingly  provide such information. you should not gather this type  of information. If you plan to gather this type of information. If your site targets or  knowingly collects information from children under age thirteen. If you are a parent or legal guardian of  a child under age 13 who you believe has submitted personal information to this's compliance page. you should consult a lawyer about  your data collection strategy. It is better to tell users that this type of information is being  collected automatically on standard web server access logs. This  information includes IP address. If you do not  plan to collect information from minors. he or she provides personal information  to the website operator simply by virtue of browsing. Unless it is important to the purpose of your website. please see COPPA. reading.  please contact us immediately. and what website referred the user  to the site.  8    . you should consider adding a statement to your  privacy policy saying:    This website's content is intended for adults and we will not knowingly collect personal  information from children under 13 years of age.    Another important aspect of a privacy policy is what it says about minors.



A START‐UP INDEPENDENT NEWS ORGANIZATION’S GUIDE TO CONTRIBUTION AGREEMENTS     F. RICHARD RIMER  Troutman Sanders LLP  Atlanta  T: 404.885.3380  F: 404.962.6831  E:     Contribution Agreements are a centuries‐old idea.  From the time that the printing press  made distribution of the written word viable, there has been a need to solidify the relationship  between publisher and author‐‐ those that have the means to distribute materials and those  that create the material to be distributed.  Contributor Agreements rose to fill this need.      Contributor Agreements typically address issues such as what the publisher can do with  a given work, how the author will be compensated, how the materials will be delivered, what  quality of work is acceptable, what warranties the author will provide, and so forth.  Publishers  often have a standard form agreement containing the terms acceptable to it.  The terms chosen  should highlight the issues the publisher finds most important and represent the policies the  publisher has chosen to adopt.  Whether a publisher will consent to negotiating the standard  terms depends upon the quality of the author and/or material submitted.    Of course technology did not stop at the printing press.  Every new technology or  medium creates a different set of issues for publishers and authors to consider.  Perhaps no  technology has altered the landscape more than the advent of the Internet.  This technology  has decreased the price of publishing while increasing the speed, breadth and depth of  distribution.  Further, this technology has allowed various types of media to be intertwined as  never before.  As a result, many jurisdictions have passed laws targeted specifically at materials  distributed via the Internet.      Just as the Internet has altered the distribution of works, the legal relationship between  those who create and those who control the distribution of material has likewise been  impacted.  This is a reality that most independent news organizations experience on a daily  basis.  Additionally, the Internet’s reliance on speed and relaxed relationships has influenced  the environment.  This article examines Contribution Agreements as used by independent  online news organizations, including a review of common provisions.     Pre‐publication conduct    Just as important as any provision contained in a Contribution Agreement are the  policies and procedures news organizations establish with respect to both submissions and  potential claims.  Regarding submissions, does the organization require a written agreement, 


and if so, is it a lengthy, one‐sided document or something concise containing only necessary  provisions?  These issues are the focus of the remaining sections of this paper.    Publishers need to also decide how they will handle any potential legal disputes.   Policies concerning the timing of notice to insurance carriers, retaining counsel and  communicating with the contributor could provide protection to the publisher.  Further,  policies regarding when and how submitted work is reviewed for any potential legal issues may  provide additional protection.    Grant of Rights/ Reserved Rights    Perhaps the most important legal provision to consider is what rights the author is  granting to the publisher versus those rights being reserved by the author.  Historically these  rights featured the language(s) covered, the territory of publication, the forms of publication  allowed and subsidiary rights.  While these provisions are still important to print publishers,  online publications often have different objectives.      The rights granted to publishers in older technologies are often limited in terms of  language and territory.  This limitation was available to authors in these formats as distribution  via paper allowed authors to more easily govern what territories and in what languages a  publisher distributed an article or book.  The same is not true with digital distributions.   Accordingly, these terms are commonly removed or minimized.      On the other hand, the forms of publication and subsidiary rights have taken on a  greater importance.  While agreements regarding paper‐based technology often stress the type  of print media (e.g., newspaper or magazine, hardcover or paperback, etc.) and occasionally  discussed various non‐print media (e.g., audio books), agreements covering digital media focus  heavily on availability in different types of media.  These provisions may cover distribution via  Internet, CDs, interactive software, archival systems and multimedia projects.  Similarly, the  focus on subsidiary rights has expanded.  While rights to create compilations have always been  common, digital agreements need to be much more complete.  First, the publisher would want  rights granted in both paper and electronic compilations.  The publisher would also want rights  in not only the current technology, but also via technology “hereafter developed” (i.e., future  technology).  It is important to be careful when describing future technology as courts will  typically read these rights narrowly.  Accordingly, it is recommended that you carefully review  the placement of this right in the contract and avoid terms used to describe specific technology  now in existence (e.g., “World Wide Web”).      While the need for speed and the preference for informal relationships has created an  environment in which shorter agreements are preferred, these terms are critical.  A news  organization should carefully decide what media it plans to use to distribute information and  tailor its Contributor Agreement to meet these needs.  Author’s Representations and Warranties   


  Publishers can be found liable for copyright infringement even if they were not aware of  the infringement and took corrective measures once notified.  Accordingly, many publishers  seek some comfort that materials submitted by an author do not infringe another’s work.  This  is especially true in an electronic environment in which copying requires only a few key strokes  and the authors may be relatively unknown to the publisher.  While a superior form of  protection for a publisher is to seek indemnity from the author, this is often either worthless or  unreasonable in these arrangements.  One of the better remaining options is to seek a  representation from authors that the works are not infringing, thus lowering the likely  judgment if the publisher is found liable.      Publishers should not blindly accept these representations from authors.  It is  recommended that Publishers perform at least some due diligence to make sure the submission  does not obviously infringe a work.  In the context of a news organization, there should be a  cross‐check against the publisher’s own memory of similar stories and possibly use of a search  engine to see if the submission is substantially similar to any existing articles.      The Digital Millennium Copyright Act  (DMCA) offers an advantage to online publishers  that may not be available to publishers using other media.  Title II of the DMCA  creates a safe  harbor for online service providers (OSP) against copyright liability.  This Title, commonly  referred to as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, or OCILLA, requires  that the OSP not have actual knowledge that it has published infringing material or be aware of  facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent and that it act expeditiously to  remove the purported infringing material upon receiving notice from copyright owners or their  agents.  There are other requirements, such as the naming of a designated agent to receive  complaints from copyright owners, but these additional obligations are likely well worth the  liability protection afforded.    Publishing decisions      Speed obviously plays an important role in online news.  It is common for submissions to  contain errors, both grammatical and factual.  Accordingly, it is important that publishers gain  the right to edit the submission as necessary.  This could include amending the title and moving  the placement of the story on the web page as it becomes more or less relevant.  Financial Terms      News organizations vary widely as to whether authors are paid, and if so, how much.   Typical methods of payment include a one‐time fee negotiated prior to submission, share of  advertising revenues or a payment per use.  While there is no specific right answer as to  whether or how a publisher should compensate authors, these terms should be carefully set  forth in the agreement.    Future Works    


  Publishers should consider whether it wants rights with respect to future works by the  author.  These rights can either be in the form of options on future articles written or even in  the form of a non‐compete agreement.        This provision was much more common in older media.  While these rights are not quite as  valued in the online community, they may occasionally be important and should not be  forgotten.    Jurisdiction      In most agreements the choice of law or choice of forum provisions primarily serve  either as an assurance that a well‐regarded jurist will hear any issues or as an aid to one party in  that any actions will be brought in a nearby venue.  While these factors may be present in  Contribution Agreements, the parties need to also be mindful of the differences in the basic  elements of copyright law from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  For example, many foreign countries  recognize an author’s “moral rights” in a work, and also do not recognize grants of rights which  do not exist at the time that the agreement was entered into.  It is recommended that the  author consent to jurisdiction in the United States and consent to application of US law.  Summary      Independent news organizations that frequently use materials from outside providers  need to prepare a standard form Contribution Agreement.  This form should be concise, and  only contain the provisions necessary to allow the organization to use the materials submitted  as reasonably anticipated.  While each organization will have different needs, a basic grant of  rights to the publisher, a simple warranty from the author and a choice of law provision should  be included.     







Legal Entity / Liability Considerations for a New Media Company

Brett Lockwood Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP 404-815-3674

Potential Sources of Liability for Publishing Business   Defamation   Infringements   Contractual breaches with applicable statutes   Negligence   Non-compliance .

But . among others . . CAN-SPAM. licenses. Telephone Consumer Protection Act.   Does not eliminate liability   Still need to minimize exposure in publishing and business activities   Use contractual liability limitations when possible   Make sure to use third party content or intellectual property with permission or under fair use   Be aware of compliance tripwires – such as taxes. . and privacy / data issues.Having an Entity Helps to Manage Liability. sweepstakes.

Entities Covered   Sole Proprietorships   Corporations   Limited Liability Companies other entity forms to consider:   Some   Non-profit corporations   Partnerships. .

LLC: Must file Articles of Organization and have an Operating Agreement. . Corporation: Must file Articles of Incorporation and be formally “organized”.Requirements for Legal Existence Sole Proprietorship: No filing required and is usually very informal.

Title 14. Partnerships and Associations .Principal Statutory Sources   Various state business entity statutes   In Georgia: Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Corporations.

it also has most liability exposure   Many proprietorships will file a trade name registration sometimes called a d/b/a or DBA) .Basic Documents – Sole Proprietorships   No filing required for entity because a sole proprietorship is not a distinct legal entity   Is more akin to an alter ago of its owners   Because of this.

Corporations             Articles of Incorporation Bylaws Organizational Minutes Subscription Agreement/Investment Letter Stock Certificates Shareholders Agreement (optional but typical) .Basic Documents -.

classes and rights of shares   Limits on director liability   Consideration of other interests .Typical Provisions of Basic Corporation Documents Articles of Incorporation   Name of Corporation   Principal place of business   Registered agent and address   Number.

Typical Provisions of Basic Corporation Documents (cont’d) Bylaws   Meeting and Notice Requirements   Directors and Officers   Limits on Authority of Officers and   Directors .

Typical Provisions of Basic Corporation Documents (cont’d) Organizational Minutes   Approve initial directors. authorize bank accounts. officers. accept share subscriptions. approve incorporator’s actions. approve form of share certificate and Bylaws .

Typical Provisions of Basic Corporation Documents (cont’d) Subscription Agreement/Investment Letter • • • • Specifies share consideration Confirmation that subscriber is able to bear risk of investment Legend requirement General transfer restrictions .

Typical Provisions of Basic Corporation Documents (cont’d) Shareholders Agreement* • Restrictions on transferability • Rights of first refusal • Options to buy or sell other shareholders’ shares • Agreements about management * Optional .

Basic Documents -.Limited Liability Companies   Articles of Organization   Operating Agreement   Minutes*   Certificates* * Optional .

Typical Provisions of Basic LLC Documents Articles of Organization • Must specify name • Usually specify whether member or manager managed .

Typical Provisions of Basic LLC Documents (cont’d) Operating Agreement • Hybrid between Bylaws and Shareholders Agreement • Designates limits on authority • Designates managers .

Ancillary Entity Related Documents   Federal Tax ID number   State Sales Tax ID number   Business licenses   “S” corporation election   Check the box election – For LLCs . .com www.If Any Questions Brett Lockwood 404-815-3674 Blogs: www.

  Further. the legal relationship between  those who create and those who control the distribution of material has likewise been  impacted. including a review of common provisions. one‐sided document or something concise containing only necessary  provisions?  These issues are the focus of the remaining sections of this paper.    Of course technology did not stop at the printing press. how the author will be compensated.  This is a reality that most independent news organizations experience on a daily  basis.      Contributor Agreements typically address issues such as what the publisher can do with  a given work.  Regarding submissions.6831  E: richard.  A START‐UP INDEPENDENT NEWS ORGANIZATION’S GUIDE TO CONTRIBUTION AGREEMENTS     F. the Internet’s reliance on speed and relaxed relationships has influenced  the environment. how the materials will be delivered.  Additionally.  The terms chosen  should highlight the issues the publisher finds most important and represent the policies the  publisher has chosen to adopt. this technology has allowed various types of media to be intertwined as  never before.      Just as the Internet has altered the distribution of works.rimer@troutmansanders.  Contributor Agreements rose to fill this need.  and if so.885.  From the time that the printing press  made distribution of the written word viable.  Every new technology or  medium creates a different set of issues for publishers and authors to     Contribution Agreements are a centuries‐old idea.962.  Publishers  often have a standard form agreement containing the terms acceptable to it. RICHARD RIMER  Troutman Sanders LLP  Atlanta  T: 404.  This article examines Contribution Agreements as used by independent  online news organizations. and so forth. many jurisdictions have passed laws targeted specifically at materials  distributed via the Internet.  Whether a publisher will consent to negotiating the standard  terms depends upon the quality of the author and/or material submitted. what  quality of work is acceptable. is it a lengthy. what warranties the author will provide. breadth and depth of  distribution.     Pre‐publication conduct    Just as important as any provision contained in a Contribution Agreement are the  policies and procedures news organizations establish with respect to both submissions and  potential claims.  As a result.  Perhaps no  technology has altered the landscape more than the advent of the Internet.  This technology  has decreased the price of publishing while increasing the speed. does the organization require a written agreement.3380  F: 404. there has been a need to solidify the relationship  between publisher and author‐‐ those that have the means to distribute materials and those  that create the material to be distributed.  1    .

 agreements covering digital media focus  heavily on availability in different types of media. the territory of publication.  Author’s Representations and Warranties      Publishers can be found liable for copyright infringement even if they were not aware of  the infringement and took corrective measures once notified. but also via technology “hereafter developed” (i. many publishers  seek some comfort that materials submitted by an author do not infringe another’s work. “World Wide Web”).      The rights granted to publishers in older technologies are often limited in terms of  language and territory.  The publisher would also want rights  in not only the current technology. archival systems and multimedia projects.  Similarly. etc.  Accordingly. digital agreements need to be much more complete. retaining counsel and  communicating with the contributor could provide protection to the publisher.e.  policies regarding when and how submitted work is reviewed for any potential legal issues may  provide additional protection.    Grant of Rights/ Reserved Rights    Perhaps the most important legal provision to consider is what rights the author is  granting to the publisher versus those rights being reserved by the author.  Further. it is recommended that you carefully review  the placement of this right in the contract and avoid terms used to describe specific technology  now in existence (e. the  focus on subsidiary rights has expanded..  The same is not true with digital distributions. newspaper or magazine.g. these terms are critical. the forms of publication and subsidiary rights have taken on a  greater importance.  It is important to be careful when describing future technology as courts will  typically read these rights narrowly..    Publishers need to also decide how they will handle any potential legal disputes.  online publications often have different objectives.  Accordingly.  While these provisions are still important to print publishers. these terms are commonly removed or minimized.   Policies concerning the timing of notice to insurance carriers.  These provisions may cover distribution via  Internet.  This limitation was available to authors in these formats as distribution  via paper allowed authors to more easily govern what territories and in what languages a  publisher distributed an article or book. hardcover or paperback. audio books). future  technology).  While agreements regarding paper‐based technology often stress the type  of print media (e. CDs.   Accordingly.      While the need for speed and the preference for informal relationships has created an  environment in which shorter agreements are preferred.) and occasionally  discussed various non‐print media (e.  Historically these  rights featured the language(s) covered.  This  2    .g.  While rights to create compilations have always been  common.      On the other hand.g.  First.. the forms of publication  allowed and subsidiary rights. the publisher would want  rights granted in both paper and electronic compilations.. interactive software.  A news  organization should carefully decide what media it plans to use to distribute information and  tailor its Contributor Agreement to meet these needs.

   Typical methods of payment include a one‐time fee negotiated prior to submission.  One of the better remaining options is to seek a  representation from authors that the works are not infringing.  In the context of a news organization.    Future Works       Publishers should consider whether it wants rights with respect to future works by the  author.  While there is no specific right answer as to  whether or how a publisher should compensate authors. how much.  This could include amending the title and moving  the placement of the story on the web page as it becomes more or less relevant. requires  that the OSP not have actual knowledge that it has published infringing material or be aware of  facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent and that it act expeditiously to  remove the purported infringing material upon receiving notice from copyright owners or their  agents.  There are other requirements.  is especially true in an electronic environment in which copying requires only a few key strokes  and the authors may be relatively unknown to the publisher.  Financial Terms      News organizations vary widely as to whether authors are paid. commonly  referred to as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act.  It is  recommended that Publishers perform at least some due diligence to make sure the submission  does not obviously infringe a work.  Accordingly.      Publishers should not blindly accept these representations from authors. or OCILLA. this is often either worthless or  unreasonable in these arrangements. it is important that publishers gain  the right to edit the submission as necessary. thus lowering the likely  judgment if the publisher is found liable.      The Digital Millennium Copyright Act  (DMCA) offers an advantage to online publishers  that may not be available to publishers using other media. there should be a  cross‐check against the publisher’s own memory of similar stories and possibly use of a search  engine to see if the submission is substantially similar to any existing articles.  Title II of the DMCA  creates a safe  harbor for online service providers (OSP) against copyright liability. such as the naming of a designated agent to receive  complaints from copyright owners.      3    . these terms should be carefully set  forth in the agreement. both grammatical and factual.  It is common for submissions to  contain errors.  These rights can either be in the form of options on future articles written or even in  the form of a non‐compete agreement. and if so. but these additional obligations are likely well worth the  liability protection afforded.  While a superior form of  protection for a publisher is to seek indemnity from the author. share of  advertising revenues or a payment per use.  This Title.    Publishing decisions      Speed obviously plays an important role in online news.

  Summary      Independent news organizations that frequently use materials from outside providers  need to prepare a standard form Contribution Agreement. the parties need to also be mindful of the differences in the basic  elements of copyright law from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. and also do not recognize grants of rights which  do not exist at the time that the agreement was entered into. a simple warranty from the author and a choice of law provision should  be included.  While each organization will have different needs. and  only contain the provisions necessary to allow the organization to use the materials submitted  as reasonably anticipated.    Jurisdiction      In most agreements the choice of law or choice of forum provisions primarily serve  either as an assurance that a well‐regarded jurist will hear any issues or as an aid to one party in  that any actions will be brought in a nearby venue.  It is recommended that the  author consent to jurisdiction in the United States and consent to application of US law. they may occasionally be important and should not be  forgotten.  While these rights are not quite as  valued in the online community.    This provision was much more common in older media. many foreign countries  recognize an author’s “moral rights” in a work.        4    .  While these factors may be present in  Contribution Agreements.  This form should be concise.  For example. a basic grant of  rights to the publisher.

 See the section on  Insurance Exclusions for Business Pursuits for information. it may be  prohibitively expensive. Carefully review your existing insurance policies to see if claims related to your online  activities are covered (e.       5. you may be  able to add coverage to your business insurance policy through an add‐on rider. copyright infringement). claims for libel. See the section on  Media Liability Insurance for help. if you lack the money to carry out  a vigorous defense. If your state excludes coverage for business pursuits and you make sufficient money from  your site to be excluded. the only option available to you may be to settle (perhaps even to take  down the allegedly offending content or even your entire site) regardless of the merits of your  defense. particularly if judgment is  rendered against you.. and the cost skyrockets the longer the litigation continues.    Even frivolous lawsuits dismissed at a relatively early stage of the litigation can be expensive to  defend. consider switching to another carrier that  will provide coverage. Review  the section on Homeowners and Renters Insurance Coverage in this guide for help in making  this determination.       2.  This is  especially important if you make any money from your online activities. If your current insurance policies don't cover you. Consider whether media liability insurance might be a better option (for many.    For these reasons. Consult your  insurance agent for costs and details. it is important to assess whether your online activities are covered by your  existing homeowners or renters insurance. it might be worth  getting media liability insurance.    Here are a list of steps to take when evaluating your insurance coverage needs:       1.       4. Consider whether your state's law excludes coverage for your specific activities. carefully weigh whether the income you receive is worth the loss in  coverage. but the coverage can be quite comprehensive).       3. invasion of privacy. See the section on Evaluating Homeowners and Renters Insurance  Policies for guidance. If your activities are not covered. even if such policies initially appear to be prohibitively  expensive.g. While most lawsuits never get to trial. Alternatively.        1    OTHER CONSIDERATIONS WHEN LAUNCHING AN ONLINE PUBLISHING VENTURE  CITIZEN MEDIA LAW PROJECT    MEDIA LIABILITY INSURANCE  . if your online activities are part of an existing business.

 They enable you to reserve the right to deny access to users  who engage in objectionable conduct and to remove content that you find offensive or that  may subject you to liability from third parties.  depending on how you write the terms. Second. allowing you to set boundaries of acceptable behavior by your users and potentially  limiting your liability. which will  help you structure your relationship with your users and let them know what your practices are  regarding personal information. you can specify (and  2    . Users explicitly agree to the terms when they sign up for an account and. however. the user owns the  copyright to that comment. By posting terms of use on your website.  TERMS OF USE AND PRIVACY POLICY    There are two key documents or statements that all websites should post before (or at least  soon after) going "live" on the Internet. The following sections address these two important  documents in greater detail and provide examples that you can follow in creating your own  terms of use and privacy policy.    Terms of use are especially important if your website gives out accounts because they help  specify the mechanics of how the account system will work.    Terms of use are also useful in dealing with user‐generated content.    Why Is It a Good Idea to Have Terms of Use?    Terms of use help you put your users on notice of what you consider to be an acceptable use of  your site and what you do not. there are some basic steps to consider that will reduce your legal  risks. you should create a privacy policy.     As a website or blog operator.     Terms of use (or "terms of service" or "terms and conditions") generally are a statement placed  on an easily visible place on a website that governs the relationship between the site and its  users or visitors. One is creating terms of use/service and a privacy policy for your site or blog. you could be held liable for copyright infringement for editing or  changing the comment. which can help you avoid liability for linking to other sites containing  copyright infringing material and for hosting copyright infringing material posted by your users. First.    The second is taking steps to bring your site within the "safe‐harbor" provisions of the Digital  Millennium Copyright Act. But keep in mind that terms of use  can also apply to visitors merely browsing the website or posting comments (assuming you  allow comments without an account. which informs your users of  your practices relating to private information and helps you avoid liability under a complex  array of federal and state privacy laws. which many do not). It also gives you an opportunity to put language  up on your website that may help protect you in the event of a lawsuit. visitors may implicitly agree to them when they use the  site. your site's terms of use govern your relationship  with users. Absent an agreement or license (see the Allowing Others to Use  Your Work section for details). When a user creates a  comment (or any other original expression) and posts it to your website.

 and to delete any content posted through it. defamatory. publicly display. and worldwide license to use your  content in connection with the operation of the Services. and remove all content posted  to the website.  reproduce.  the license rights to copy. infringing of intellectual  property rights.    • a provision prohibiting the impersonation of another person (the point here is to stop a  user from misleading others about their identity. distribute.    • provisions relating to inter‐user relations. not necessarily to prohibit anonymous  or pseudonymous speech). Here are some  key items you should consider including in your terms:    • terms about creating and accessing accounts. transmit. even if users own the copyright to that content. and  3    . translate and reformat your content. see the CMLP's Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy. such as:    • By posting or contributing content using these Services. publicly perform. royalty‐free. These provisions in the terms of use give you effective control of user‐ generated content on your site.    • a disclaimer of affiliation and/or responsibility for material posted or linked to the  website.     • a reservation of your copyright and trademark rights or information about a Creative  Commons or other collaborative licensing arrangement under which the content on the  site is licensed. such as:    Content may not be illegal. change. edit. such as clauses prohibiting on‐site and offline  harassment. and    • a provision linking users and visitors to your copyright infringement policy ‐‐ for an  example of this kind of policy. obscene. perpetual. without limitation. threatening. including.  make clear to users) that you will have a license to edit. terms of use should set out the ground rules for your site. and/or to incorporate it into a  collective work.    • a provision conditioning the posting of user‐generated content on the grant of a license to  the website to use and alter the content of the posting.    • guidelines for acceptable user‐generated content.  What Should You Include in Terms of Use?    As discussed above.     • a provision or provisions reserving your right to terminate or restrict access to a user's  account. you are granting [name of your  website] a non‐exclusive. invasive of privacy or otherwise injurious or objectionable.

 a privacy policy will help you avoid  liability under a complex array of state and federal laws dealing with users' private information. as well as information that gets logged while they browse.    • an opt‐out procedure for users to request that their information not be shared with third  parties. including parent  companies or subsidiaries.    • a description of the process through which the website operator will notify users of  changes to the privacy policy.    • a statement reminding users that data is collected through a server access log when a  user browses.    • a description of the process through which users can request changes to any of the  personally identifying information collected and/or stored (you can provide an email  address for notifying the website operator of changes).  . subpoenas. or that their contact information not be used to send unsolicited correspondence  (again.    • a statement reminding users that the website operators may have to disclose user  information in response to warrants. reads.    • a statement identifying the effective date of the policy. or downloads information from the site. It frequently explains whether and how the website uses cookies.    4    for details see the Protecting Yourself Against Copyright Claims Based on User Content  page. A  privacy policy allows users to find out what you do with their private information and enables  them to adapt their conduct accordingly. and with whom (if anyone) you intend to share it.  What Should You Include in a Privacy Policy?    A well‐crafted privacy policy should include the following items (although the particular items  included may depend upon the nature of your website):    • a statement explaining what kind of information you collect about your users. how you  use it.    • a statement disclosing whether and how you use cookies and/or other tracking software.    A privacy policy is a statement placed in an easily visible place on a website informing users  about how the website deals with users' personal information. this can be done with an email address). Privacy policies generally explain  whether and how users' information will be shared with third parties.    Why Is It a Good Idea to Have a Privacy Policy?    Privacy policies let people know what you will do with information that they provide when  registering with your website. or other valid legal process. Beyond that.

     There are also rules about collecting medical information and information about criminal  records. reading." While this kind of statement may sound reassuring for your users. For more information about how to comply with the  Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. and what website referred the user  to the site.  Another important aspect of a privacy policy is what it says about minors. among other things. This  information includes IP address. When a user visits a website. Unless it is important to the purpose of your website.  please contact us immediately. If you are a parent or legal guardian of  a child under age 13 who you believe has submitted personal information to this site. it  is not true in most cases. you should not gather this type  of information. he or she provides personal information  to the website operator simply by virtue of browsing.         5    . user configuration settings. and downloading material. If you do not  plan to collect information from minors. it must comply with the  Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. If you plan to gather this type of information. It is better to tell users that this type of information is being  collected automatically on standard web server access logs. you should consult a lawyer about  your data collection strategy. you should consider adding a statement to your  privacy policy saying:    This website's content is intended for adults and we will not knowingly collect personal  information from children under 13 years of age. please see COPPA. If your site targets or  knowingly collects information from children under age's compliance page.    What Should You Avoid?    It is common to see the following statement in website privacy policies: "[Name of website] will  not collect any personal information about you except when you specifically and knowingly  provide such information.

 no substantial loss of federal revenue is expected."    The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.THE NEWSPAPER REVITALIZATION ACT    In March 2009.     According to Cardin's press release:   The measure is targeted to preserve local newspapers serving communities and not  large newspaper conglomerates. A companion bill  introduced by Rep. but would be allowed to report on all issues.   "We are losing our newspaper industry.    . similar to public broadcasting.S."    The proposed “Newspaper Revitalization Act of 2009. In fact. is broken. newspaper nonprofits would not  be allowed to make political endorsements. "The economy has caused  an immediate problem. 3602. is pending in the House Committee on  Ways and Means.  "While we have lots of news sources.R. It is in the interest of our nation and good governance that we  ensure they survive. and that is a real tragedy for communities across the  nation and for our democracy. Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt and  contributions to support coverage or operations could be tax deductible. H. United States Senator Benjamin Cardin (D‐MD) introduced legislation  that would allow newspapers to become nonprofit organizations in what he described as "an  effort to help the faltering [newspaper] industry survive. based on circulation  and advertising revenue. records events and exposes misdeeds.” S.  including political campaigns." said Senator Cardin. Internal  Revenue Code. would allow "newspapers  for general circulation" to operate as nonprofits under section 501(c)(3) of the U. Carolyn Maloney (D‐NY). most if not all  sources of journalistic information ‐ from radio to television to the Internet ‐ gathers  their news from newspaper reporters who cover the news on a daily basis and know  their communities. Because newspaper profits have been falling in recent  years. 673.  Under the bill. but the business model for newspapers. we rely on newspapers for in‐depth reporting that  follows important issues.

2010 Douglas W.Protecting Your Intellectual Property: Trademark and Copyright Basics Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society & Kennesaw State University’s Center for Sustainable Journalism Kennesaw State University September 25. III . Kenyon John Gary Maynard.

Trademark Application? Why file with the PTO? What makes a “good” mark? What do we (your attorneys) need to file a trademark application with the PTO? What does the PTO do with the application? Once I have a mark. what do I do to protect it? How do I maintain a trademark registration? 2 .? When can one file a U.Agenda                           Trademarks Overview What is a trademark? What does a trademark do? Are trademarks different from other Intellectual Property? What are the different types of marks? How are Trademark rights established in the U.S.S.

Agenda   Copyrights Overview             What is a Copyright? What can qualify for copyright protection? What rights does a copyright owner have? Are facts protectible as a copyright? Who owns the copyright? Must one register a copyright? 3 .

symbol.What is a Trademark? What is a Trademark? Any word. design or combination thereof that distinguishes goods and/or services of one source from those of other sources 4 . phrase.

What Does a Trademark Do? What Does a Trademark Do? Legally. albeit anonymous. source (ii) identifies goods or services as having a known quality 5 . a trademark serves two purposes: (i) identifies goods or services as coming from a single.

distribution.Trademarks are different than other Intellectual Property Trademarks are different than other Intellectual Property A patent confers on the owner the right to exclude others from making. etc.       6 .) to the author or owner of an original work of authorship that has been fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Trade Secrets are any formula. offering for sale or selling the patented invention for the life of the patent. because it is unknown to others. gives the business a competitive advantage. using. device or compilation of information which is used in a business and. Copyrights provide certain exclusive rights (reproduction. pattern.

Trade Dress . Certification Mark .A mark used to identify a cooperative.The Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”) for a Website on the Internet that must be registered with organizations authorized to register and maintain domain names. Collective Mark . association. Domain Name . Trade Name . union or other group. labeling and overall appearance of a product. as opposed to the name of a specific product or service.The name of a business. Service Mark .           7 .A mark used by a seller to identify its services and distinguish them from others.A mark used in connection with goods and services to certify various facts about them. club. Slogan or Tagline .The packaging. for example quality or ingredients or approval by a certifying organization.A mark used by a seller to identify its goods and distinguish them from others.A phrase used in connection with a product or service.Types of Marks Types of Marks:       Trademark .

but registration is not mandatory. Registration provides great benefits to the owner of a registered mark. is a “use based” as opposed to a “file based” country.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) or with a particular State.S. How are Trademark Rights established in the United States?         The U. Using a mark in interstate commerce to identify goods or services will create common law rights.Establishing Trademark Rights in the U. 8 .S. Marks may be registered by the U.

or between the U.S.Basis for Filing an Application to Register a Mark When can one file a U. (ii) Bona-fide intent to use the mark in the future (“intent-touse” or “ITU” application). trademark application? (i) Use in commerce in the U.S. 9 .S. and a foreign country (“use” application).

Trademark Registration Why file with the PTO?           May prevent others from registering or using a confusingly similar mark.Benefits of U. Nationwide constructive notice of registrant’s claim to the mark. the right to sue others for dilution of the distinctive nature of the mark (“tarnishment” or “blurring”). For “famous” marks. Right to use federal registration notice ®.S. Legal presumption that the registered mark is valid. as well as treble damages and attorneys’ fees in exceptional cases.   10 . Right to sue for infringement in Federal District Court and obtain injunctive relief (which can include destruction of infringing articles and corrective advertising) and damages.

Choosing a Trademark “The Hierarchy Of Marks” Descriptive Suggestive Arbitrary/Fanciful Generic POTATO CHIPS YELLOW PAGES COPPERTONE APPLE / CLOROX 11 .

12 .Trademark Selection . Example: The mark POTATO CHIPS used to identify potato chips.Distinctiveness of Marks “The Hierarchy Of Marks” Descriptive Suggestive Arbitrary/Fanciful Generic POTATO CHIPS   YELLOW PAGES COPPERTONE APPLE / CLOROX Generic: The generic name of a product or service has no trademark significance and cannot be protected or registered.

function. Example: The mark YELLOW PAGES used to identify the yellow pages.Trademark Selection . which is typically established by long continuous use of the mark and/or significant advertising. or a characteristic of a product or service cannot be protected without having acquired an association with the owner’s goods in the mind of the public (“secondary meaning”).Distinctiveness of Marks Descriptive Suggestive Arbitrary/Fanciful Generic POTATO CHIPS YELLOW PAGES COPPERTONE APPLE / CLOROX   Descriptive: Marks describing the purpose. 13 .

Trademark Selection . Example: The mark COPPERTONE used to identify sun tan lotion. 14 .Distinctiveness of Marks Descriptive Suggestive Arbitrary/Fanciful Generic POTATO CHIPS YELLOW PAGES COPPERTONE APPLE / CLOROX   Suggestive: Marks merely suggesting some quality or characteristic of a product or service are generally inherently distinctive and therefore registrable (most of the time).

Distinctiveness of Marks Descriptive Suggestive Arbitrary/Fanciful Generic POTATO CHIPS   YELLOW PAGES COPPERTONE APPLE / CLOROX Arbitrary: Marks that comprise words or symbols used in common language but when used with the products or services at issue neither suggest nor describe a quality or characteristic of the product or service are protectable and registrable as inherently distinctive marks. 15 .Trademark Selection . Example: The mark APPLE used to identify computers.

Distinctiveness of Marks Descriptive Suggestive Generic Arbitrary/Fanciful POTATO CHIPS   YELLOW PAGES COPPERTONE APPLE / CLOROX Fanciful: Marks that consist of words that have been invented (“coined”) or are out of common usage are inherently distinctive and therefore protectable and registrable.Trademark Selection . Example: The mark CLOROX used to identify bleach. 16 .

AMERICAN. GENERAL.S.Recommendations What makes a “good” mark? Make every effort to develop fanciful and arbitrary marks. Avoid use of terms in or as marks that have specific meanings in the relevant industry that would render the mark descriptive or suggestive. Avoid descriptive or generic marks. for example.Trademark Selection . means “won’t go” in Spanish!) Avoid using terms commonly used in the relevant market (in the U.). used by General Motors as a trademark for automobiles. NATIONAL. ETC. Avoid marks which may create a negative impression in the relevant market (NOVA. Terms with no connection to the goods or services to be identified make good marks (for example.                 17 .. Unique or “coined” marks consisting of new words and/or symbols are best. Suggestive marks are better than descriptive marks. SAUSAGE Brand Shampoo).

packages or containers that prominently display the mark or digital photographs of the mark on the items.Trademark Application Preparation What do we (your attorneys) need to file a trademark application with the PTO?   Use-Based Application   Identification of the owner   Identification of goods or services   Date of first use   Drawing   Specimen     For goods: tags. promotional materials. labels. For services: advertising.   Intent-to-Use Application   Identification of the owner   Identification of goods or services   Drawing 18 . or brochures which prominently display the mark in connection with the services. marketing materials.

the application is reviewed for completeness and assigned to an Examining Attorney. Within 3 to 6 months. Once the Examining Attorney is satisfied that the mark in the application may function as a trademark. the Examining Attorney will issue an Office Action. Provided the Statement of Use is accepted by the USPTO. the mark is published for opposition in the USPTO’s Official Gazette. the Examining Attorney reviews the application and if issues or questions arise. Upon publication.Trademark Application Processing by the USPTO     What does the PTO do with the application?           Upon filing. Applicant has 6 months to respond to an Office Action. then the USPTO will issue a Certificate of Registration for the mark. and is available for registration. third parties with an interest have 30 days to oppose registration of the mark. If there is no opposition to a use-based application. Applicant then has 6 months (with extensions up to 3 years) to use the mark in commerce and file a Statement of Use. If there is no opposition to an ITU application. the mark is registered and a Certificate of Registration issues. then the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance. 19 .

Never pluralize the mark. Use the mark in the same manner throughout your company: same color. Continually examine the quality and nature of any licensees’ or affiliates’ product or service associated with the mark. same type style and font. never as a noun or verb. Use words or symbols as marks to identify the source of a product or service .not what a product or service is or does. same or similar location on corporate literature. Always use a generic noun or the word “brand” with the mark. what do I do to protect it?   Use and encourage others to use the mark as an adjective.Rules of Trademark Usage Once I have a mark.           20 .

unregistered trademarks and service marks should be identified by “TM” and “SM”. use bold. Federally registered marks should be identified by the registration symbol “®”. consultants and vendors to report all inconsistencies of use or suspicions of similar uses by competitors. 21       .Rules of Trademark Usage Once I have a mark. what do I do to protect it?     Continually search competitor’s marks for similarity to yours. contractors. Educate customers regarding the uniqueness of the mark and its symbolic status in regard to your company’s products or services. particularly when used in headings or titles. all capital letters or a special typeface or any combination to set the mark apart. When the mark consists of text. Educate all company employees.

Protecting Your Trademarks How do I maintain a trademark registration?       Maintain Registrations Affidavit of Use and Incontestibility Filed between the fifth and sixth year of registration 10 years after Registration Every 10 years thereafter       Combined Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal           Monitor the trademark for infringement Where applicable. use watching services Employ in-house programs and standards to identify potential infringement Avoid genericide Use licenses where appropriate 22 .

Copyrights © 23 .

24 .S.Copyright Law What is a Copyright? A U. a song has multiple copyrights: (i) the lyrics. (ii) the score or sheet music. copyright protects original works of authorship which have been fixed in a tangible medium of expression. (iii) the sound recording. What does this mean? For example.

A Copyright Protects What can qualify for copyright protection?         literary works           sculptural works computer programs motion pictures sound recordings architectural works musical works dramatic works pantomime and choreographic works pictorial and graphic works   25 .

Copyright Owner May Control What rights does a copyright owner have? The exclusive right to control:           reproduction distribution adaptation public display public performance 26 .

      The format for a television series v. Expression Dichotomy Are facts protectible as a copyright? No – facts and ideas are not protected. arrangement of those facts 27 .Idea v. the novel itself Facts v. the series itself Idea for a World War II novel v.

Who is the Author? The person who actually created the work.       Employee/scope of employment Independent contractor Works for hire 28 .Copyright Ownership Who owns the copyright? The author.

but failure to do so may limit your rights. Affords certain benefits       Prerequisite to filing suit Statutory damages and attorney’s fees   Simple and inexpensive 29 .Copyright Points to Remember Must one register a copyright?   Not mandatory.

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