Feb
06
2009

Dewey Defeats Truman; AP Hopes to Defeat 1st Amendment

We noted recently Fox News' peculiar understanding of the Fair Use doctrine, which allows writers, artists and others to make reasonable use of copyrighted material so long as they don't infringe on the copyright owners' commercial rights; Fox interprets this to mean that critics should only be allowed to make use of Fox video if Fox is allowed to sell ads to run alongside the criticism. Now another corporate media company is making strange claims against Fair Use. The Associated Press is claiming that the well-known "HOPE" poster of Barack Obama violates its copyright, because artist Shepard Fairey used an […]

Nov
27
2008

Press Freedoms Require 'Constant Vigilance'

The folks at Free Press recount (11/25/08) how, "when St. Paul police launched a violent crackdown on journalists covering the Republican National Convention," the media reform group "needed an on-the-ground organizer to pressure city officials to drop the charges against the journalists"–luckily they "knew just the person to call: Nancy Doyle Brown of the Twin Cities Media Alliance": With only two days to organize, Doyle Brown called media reform advocates throughout the city, rallying support for the petition delivery and the press conference. Free Press coordinated with its local members to prepare for the event and ensure a strong media […]

Nov
24
2008

'How Parodies Work' in the Internet Age

The ever-vigilant Electronic Frontier Foundation announces (11/18/08) its representation of "a New York City community organizer [who] is fighting back in court after her parody website challenging redevelopment efforts in New York City's historic Union Square was shut down with bogus claims of copyright infringement and cybersquatting": As one part of her education campaign, [Savitri] Durkee created a website parodying the official website of Union Square Partnership…. In response, USP sent Durkee's Internet service provider a notice pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act improperly asserting that her parody site infringed USP's copyright, leading to the shutdown of the site. […]

Nov
17
2008

Michael Savage Hates Free Speech

Fair Use infringement and talk-radio vitriol meet in a report (Bay City News, 11/13/08) on hate-jock Michael Savage's latest charming escapades: Conservative radio talkshow host Michael Savage has been sued in federal court in San Francisco by a liberal film group for making an allegedly baseless demand that YouTube Inc. take down one of its videos. The video by Brave New Films was entitled Savage Hates Muslims and criticized an October 29, 2007, broadcast in which Savage…comments that Muslims should "take [their] religion and shove it up [their] behind" and should be deported…. YouTube did take down the video and […]

Nov
14
2008

Fearing Fairness–When You Don't Know What It Is

After giving a dubious account of the causes of the Democrats' 1994 electoral disaster, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson (11/14/08) provides an inaccurate description of the Fairness Doctrine, which he calls a federal regulation (overturned by the Reagan administration in 1987) requiring broadcast outlets to give equal time to opposing political viewpoints. Under this doctrine, three hours of Rush Limbaugh on a radio station would have to be balanced by three hours of his liberal equivalent. This may sound fair and balanced. But it is a classic case where the "unintended consequences" are so obvious that those consequences must be […]

Nov
11
2008

MSNBC's Profane Zealot

Hearing Joe Scarborough utter "the phrase 'fuck you' when discussing Obama's appointment of Rahm Emanuel" on MSNBC, Salon's Green Greenwald states (11/10/08, ad-viewing required) that he "couldn't care any less"–except that he just can't stomach the immense hypocrisy of "one of the most zealous crusaders against such awful filth on television": Scarborough led the lynch mob over the 2004 Janet Jackson halftime show on CBS–demanding that the FCC impose massive fines against CBS and MTV, among others–and has railed against "rock stars" and entertainers who use, as he used to call it (before this morning), "the F word." Indeed, Scarborough […]

Nov
10
2008

Free Speech 'Actually More Important Than Sports'

Corporate media may have belatedly embraced the historic black power gestures of 1968 Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos, but sports media critic Dave Zirin tells (Nation, 11/7/08) of how a modern-day version by one NFL player drew immediate condemnation: [Denver Broncos receiver Brandon] Marshall's plan was to score a touchdown on Thursday night and then take out a black-and-white glove and hold it up to the sky. "I wanted to create that symbol of unity because Obama inspires me, our multicultured society," he said after the game, choked with tears…. "I wanted to make my own statement and […]

Oct
23
2008

'The True Essence of Journalism'

The Canadian Journalists for Free Expression organization has named recently-freed reporter Sami al-Haj as a recipient of its 2008 International Press Freedom Award. The Indo-Asian News Service reviews the back story (10/23/08): Held at Guantanamo Bay for six years, Sami al-Haj was freed on May 1 this year. Never formally charged, he was pressured to become an informant against Al Jazeera in exchange for a U.S. passport and release from Guantanamo Bay. "Al-Haj refused and instead launched a year-long hunger-strike. The U.S. finally released him to Sudan, where he is now Al Jazeera's news producer for liberties and human rights […]

Oct
18
2008

The Hazards of Reporting on Palin Rallies

Via TPM, we read about a reporter (Capital Beat, 10/16/08) who got knocked down at a Sarah Palin rally in North Carolina because he tried to interview an Obama supporter. This seems like the natural progression from the earlier report of Palin inciting her followers to hurl obscenities and racist insults at journalists. And, you know, maybe if your crowds are already shouting abuse at reporters, you should refrain from distributing songs that begin, "The left-wing liberal media have always been a real close-knit family/But most of the American people don't believe them anyway, you see." In a related story, […]

Oct
14
2008

Hoover Haunts the Press

The AP files a chapter (10/11/08) in the long story of government surveillance of critical reporters like muckraking columnist Jack Anderson: Documents turned over to the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act almost three years after Anderson's death include copies of his columns with critical notes in the margins, summaries of his movements while under surveillance, and FBI memos detailing efforts to find his sources who leaked information from deep inside government agencies.