Major Cases


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Major Cases

  1. 1. Media Law & Ethics Major Court Cases
  2. 2. Times v. Sullivan• 1964: Alabama Police Commissioner L.B. Sullivan sues the New York Times for libel, regarding an advertisement for a civil rights group that was critical of the police’s handling of protestors.• Some statements in the ad were false• An Alabama court rules in favor of Sullivan, awards him $500,000 in damages• NYT appealed the case to the Supreme Court where it was ruled in their favor
  3. 3. Times v. Sullivan • The Supreme Court gave three principles concerning defamation: 1. Editorial advertising is protected by the First Amendment 2. Even statements that are false might qualify for First Amendment protection if they concern the public conduct of public officials(Video) 3. To win a libel suit, public officials must prove that false and defamatory statements were made with actual malice
  4. 4. Woody Allen v. American Apparel• (2007) American Apparel put up billboards featuring an image of Woody Allen from his film Annie Hall, with the phrase “The High Rabbi” in Hebrew• Used the image without permission, Allen sued for $10M, claiming they appropriated his likeness without permission• American Apparel argued fair use, claiming the ads were meant to be social satire and foster discussion• Settled out of court, American Apparel paid Woody Allen $5M• (Video)
  5. 5. Food Lion v. ABC• (1996) Reporters for Prime Time Live faked resumes to get jobs at a Food Lion Supermarket• Used hidden cameras to take video of unsanitary practices• Sued ABC for fraud, claiming that the ABC employees misrepresented themselves• Sued for trespassing, because the ABC employees came on to Food Lion property without permission; and for breach of loyalty, the ABC employees videotaped non-public areas of the store and revealed internal company information.
  6. 6. Food Lion v. ABC• The footage showed two undercover producers seen trying to encourage violations of company policy; however, employees resisted and correctly followed sanitary practices• Food Lion was awarded $5.5 million by a jury in 1997• The verdict was then overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals• According to the court, even though ABC was wrong to do what they had done, Food Lion was unable to show that they had been directly injured by ABCs actions - essentially that it was the actions of Food Lion that caused the damages, not the publication of those actions.
  7. 7. Sanders v. ABC• ABC had an undercover reporter conducting a hidden camera investigation at a psychic hotline operation• Greg Sanders, an employee, sued ABC for invasion of privacy; intrusion upon solitude• Ruled in Sanders’ favor – if a business has limited access to the public, then there is a reasonable expectation of privacy among coworkers
  8. 8. Sony v. Universal Studios (The Betamax Case) • 1984: Supreme Court of the US rules that the making of individual copies of complete television shows for time-shifted viewing is not copyright infringement, instead it is fair use • Manufacturers of home video recording devices cannot be held liable for copyright infringement • Precedent for modern file-sharing legal battles
  9. 9. A&M Music v. Napster• (2000) A&M Records and several other recording companies, via the RIAA, sued Napster for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).• The music industry made the following claims against Napster:1. That its users were directly infringing the plaintiffs copyrights.2. That Napster was liable for contributory infringement of the plaintiffs copyrights. (video)3. That Napster was liable for vicarious infringement of the plaintiffs copyrights.
  10. 10. A&M Music v. Napster • Napster lost the case in the District Court; appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals -- found that Napster was capable of commercially significant non-infringing uses • District Court ordered Napster to monitor the activities of its network and to block access to infringing material when notified of that materials location • Napster was unable to do this, and so shut down its service in July 2001 • Now a pay service, not a P2P application. • Also sued by Metallica and Madonna
  11. 11. MGM v. Grokster • 2005: Often characterized as a continuation of the Betamax Case • MGM alleged Grokster, a P2P file- sharing service infringed copyrights on movies and music being distributed on the site • Courts rule: Producers of technology who promote the ease of infringing on copyrights can be sued for inducing copyright infringement committed by their users.
  12. 12. Mangini v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.• In 1991, Janet Mangini, a San Francisco-based attorney, brought a suit against R. J. Reynolds, challenging the company for targeting minors with its "Joe Camel" advertising campaign.• Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that more children 5 and 6 years old could recognize Joe Camel than could recognize Mickey Mouse or Fred Flintstone, and alleged that the "Joe Camel" campaign was targeting children• July 1997, under pressure from the impending Mangini trial, Congress, and other groups, RJR settled out of court and voluntarily ended its Joe Camel campaign
  13. 13. Miller v. California• 1973: Marvin Miller, the owner of a mail-order catalog business that advertised “adult material” – was found guilty of knowingly distributing obscene material• Attempted to define obscenity; ruled obscenity is not protected speech; creation of the Miller Test:1. Whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest2. Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way certain sexual acts specifically defined by state law3. Whether the work as a whole lacks serious literary, political, artistic or scientific value
  14. 14. Hustler Magazine v. Falwell • Hustler published an ad parody that featured a fake interview with, and picture of the Rev. Jerry Falwell • Falwell sued Larry Flynt for libel, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress • Court ruled in favor of Hustler; saying the magazine’s parody was within the law, because reasonable people would not have interpreted the parody as fact • Court prohibits public figures from suing for compensation for intentional emotional distress • Upheld First Amendment rights • Larry Flynt on the First Amendment (Video) • Larry Flynt deposition footage (Video) • Flynt reflects about Fallwell, Larry King Live (Video)