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Mizzou: A Personal Note on Racism, Firings and a Free Press

I have been watching the events at my alma mater that led to the resignation of MU System President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin from afar. While I had heard inklings of discontent, I had no idea it was at this point until the football team got involved.
On many levels, I am trying my … 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 Two

Last time, we looked at whether the media can use images from social media sites applying fair use to several typical situations.  Today, we look at the specific terms of service of various popular sites to see if some make it easier than others for the media to use images.
Plain English:  Each user allows Facebook, … 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 Greatest Blog Post About Deceptive Advertising Ever Written*

Sometimes, I like to talk basics and this time it’s something as basic as “tell the truth.”  I’ve never had a client come to me and say, “I would like to lie as much as possible in my advertising, can you help me?” It’s never that simple. 
The general rule is advertising cannot be deceptive – which means … Continue Reading

Commenting anonymously can go wrong – even for the judge

The Cleveland Plain Dealer agreed to reveal the identity of one of its frequent anonymous commenters.  The anonymous commenter was a judge who posted under the name “lawmiss” and commented on some of the cases in her court.  Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold reacted by suing the newspaper for $50 million.
I will leave the ethics of … Continue Reading

Will Watching These Videos on Your Computer Get You In Trouble?

The Supreme Court heard oral argument today about whether it is a crime to sell or possess any depiction of animal cruelty.  Subsection (a) of the law, U.S.C. Part I, Chapter 3, Section 48, states: “Whoever knowingly creates, sells, or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate or … Continue Reading

Texas Legislative Roundup-Shield Laws and Online Harassment

The two-year spectacle known as the Texas Legislative session came to an end with the passage of a journalist shield law (already signed by the Governor) and an online harassment law. 
The shield law was passed weeks ago and signed by the governor to become effective immediately.  My prior post, including the text of the … Continue Reading

Texas Legislature Moving on Online Measures

Shield Law:
 The Texas Shield Law was signed yesterday by the Governor and became law upon his signature.  As mentioned in several prior posts (available here), the law is the result of a compromise between media interests and law enforcement that includes a narrow definition of journalists entitled to the protection.  Specifically, the law defines journalist as: 
“Journalist” means … Continue Reading

Texas Shield Law and Online Harrasment Bills on the Move

The Texas Shield Law Bill made it out of committee this week.  HB 670 is being sent to the House without any amendments.  I discussed the bill and provided the bill in its entirety here and here in earlier posts.  Although some protection for journalists is better than none, it appears it will not apply to … Continue Reading