February 23 roundup

Free speech and press issue:

  • Even truthful statements libelous if made with actual malice? Outcry at “dangerous” First Circuit decision [Ambrogi/LegaLine, Bayard/Citizen Media Law, Coleman/Likelihood of Confusion]
  • Eric Holder’s open and frank national dialogue on race sure isn’t going to take place in the workplace, thanks to fear of being sued [Goldberg, NRO “Corner”]
  • Obama says he opposes revival of talk-radio-squelching Fairness Doctrine, though some in Congress favor it; some worry that under-the-radar FCC rules could accomplish some of the same effects without using the name [Matt Lasar and Julian Sanchez, Ars Technica; Ken @ Popehat] Both FCC and Waxman’s office deny report that Congressman met with staffers to promote new controls [Broadcasting & Cable, Unfair Doctrine]
  • Freedom wins a round: Court strikes down California violent-videogame law as unconstitutional [Eugene Volokh] Cockfighting is lawful in Puerto Rico, but U.S. Congress has banned videos of same from the States, raising First Amendment issue [David Post @ Volokh; our posts in 1999 and last year]
  • Are they being extraterritorial, or are we? “Congressional Efforts to Stymie ‘Libel Tourism’ Rev Up” [Citizen Media Law]
  • Ordinarily there’s no legal penalty for whistling the theme to “The Addams Family” at your neighbors, unless you’re under a court order to refrain from doing so, in which case you might be locked up like one U.K. man [UPI]
  • Any First Amendment implications in CPSIA bonfires of old children’s books? [Ted Frank, Valerie Jacobsen and others in comments]


  • Perhaps The Rev. A.G. Holder wants to “egg on” open race-related dialog in the workplace as a way of pouring some fuel on the litigation fire…his chums would surely love as much opportune discussions as their case-loads will allow.

  • In regard to CPSIA and books, I wonder: do the authors of those books have rights under the Visual Artists Rights Act?

  • No. VARA rights attach to unique works of art, not en masse reproductions. Otherwise there might be a cause of action against someone who discards a coffee table book.

  • […] Coalition of media organizations urges First Circuit to reverse judge’s “truth-no-defense” defamation ruling, but the Circuit denies en banc rehearing [Bayard/Citizen Media Law and sequel; earlier] […]

  • […] Hilden on First Circuit “true statements can be defamatory” ruling [FindLaw, earlier here and […]