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Texas High Court Rules Improper Photography Law Unconsitutional; Or, Why You Care a Creepy Dude Is Not Guilty

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in a 8-1 decision yesterday that the “Improper Photography and Visual Recording Act” is facially unconstitutional.  The case involved a guy who allegedly took pictures of kids at a water park.  You can read more here.
Before you say, you are not a creepy person taking pictures of random … Continue Reading

Unmasking the anonymous online critic – first, there is the matter of jurisdiction

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a 5-4 decision holding a plaintiff needs to establish jurisdiction over an anonymous blogger before a court will allow pre-suit discovery that would likely unmask the blogger’s identity.  Both the majority and dissenting opinions in In re John Doe a/k/a The Trooper are available here.  It will certainly … Continue Reading

Back from the Land of Trial Mode: January Quicklinks

There has not been much activity on the blog because we have been engaged in a long copyright and misappropriation of trade secrets trial.  So, we share with you some of the articles we have been reading, but just haven’t had time to write about:
Bloggers entitled to same protections as journalists under the First Amendment. … Continue Reading

Thankful I didn’t copy images, parody the Beastie Boys, use overbearing TOS or have to stand behind TheDirty

With the short Thanksgiving week, I thought we would touch on a few interesting stories developing over the last couple of weeks.
Photographer gets $1 million+ verdict from AFP and Getty for copied Twitpics
In my three part series on using images from the web for your news stories, we talked about the Morel v. Agence France-Press case. … Continue Reading

Can you use pre-suit discovery to unmask an anonymous blogger in Texas?

Last week, the Supreme Court of Texas heard oral arguments on whether a party can use a pre-suit deposition to identify an anonymous blogger.  The petitioner tried to use a pre-suit subpoena to force Google to identify a blogger that constantly railed on how bad the company and its owner was.   The trial court … Continue Reading

Facebook “Like” is Protected First Amendment Speech

I don’t often make predictions on legal outcomes, so when I do and I get it right, it’s worth sharing.  In May, we talked about whether “liking” a candidate would constitute protected speech under the First Amendment.  A district judge in Virginia ruled it was not.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed in … Continue Reading

Can I use the social media image for my story – part 3

In part one, we discussed how fair use may apply to the media’s use of social media images.  In part two, we looked at how the various sites’ terms of service come into play.  Today, we look at the one prominent case in this area and describe some best practices.
 The Agence France-Presse Twitter Case
There is … Continue Reading

Can I use the social media picture for my story? – Part One

The answer is one that frustrates people the most — it depends.  In most circumstances, you run the risk of violating the copyright of the person who took the picture, so the best practice is to seek permission first (more on that in part 3).  But, let’s assume you can’t get permission — after all, … Continue Reading

The Anatomy of a Defamation Claim – Scottie Pippen’s Case is Dismissed

I think Scottie Pippen is one of the most overrated players in the history of the NBA.  My opinion may be soured because I am a Houston Rockets fan and the experiment with him, Olajuwon and Charles Barkley did not end well.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.  What if, however, I reported, as fact, Scottie … Continue Reading

TheDirty.com held liable despite Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

TheDirty.com is not exactly deserving of sympathy.  Much like Playboy and Hustler pushed the boundaries of the First Amendment in the past, rumor sites like TheDirty.com are pushing the limits of Section 230 immunity for online defamation under the Communications Decency Act.
A judge and jury in Kentucky apparently have had enough.  This week, a jury … Continue Reading