Posts Tagged ‘free speech’

“This fight could very well be the end of Techdirt, even if we are completely on the right side of the law.”

TechDirt, which has provided immensely valuable coverage of First Amendment issues as well as news from the worlds of technology and intellectual property, is being sued for defamation over its critical coverage of a man best known for his claims to a role in the invention of email. Lending urgency in some observers’ eyes is that the plaintiff is being represented by attorney Charles Harder, of Thiel-Hogan fame. Mike Masnick’s statement is here. More: Eugene Volokh, David Post.

Free speech roundup

Germany mulls crackdown on social media speech

In the name of combating harms from false reports as well as injury to reputation, the government of Germany is considering imposing a tough legal regime on Facebook and other social media sites. Next year it “will take up a bill that’d let it fine social networks like Facebook $500,000 [per post] for each day they leave a ‘fake news’ post up without deleting it.” Both official and private complainants could finger offending material. The new law would also require social networks to create in-country offices charged with rapid response to takedown demands, and would make the networks responsible for compensation when posts by their individual users were found to have defamed someone. [David Meyer Lindenberg, Fault Lines; Parmy Olson, Forbes]

P.S. If not closely, then at least distantly related: “Ridiculous German Court Ruling Means Linking Online Is Now A Liability” [Mike Masnick, TechDirt]

Free speech roundup

  • Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention panel discussion on Justice Scalia, originalism, and the First Amendment with Profs. Nadine Strossen, David Forte, Michael McConnell, and David Rabban, moderated by Judge Carlos Bea;
  • Sad day for liberal Netherlands tradition of free political opinion [CNN on conviction of Geert Wilders, leader of prominent political party] More Euro speech-throttling: France mulls ban on anti-abortion websites (only) that “mislead” or “manipulate” [Guardian]
  • Judge grants motions to dismiss, and to strike as SLAPP, the suit in California demanding “R” ratings on films with tobacco use [Greg Herbers, Washington Legal Foundation, earlier here and here, related here and here]
  • “Congress’s rotten idea for fighting anti-Semitism” [Jacob Sullum, New York Post on S. 10, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016]
  • “Lawyer seeks to identify author of three-word ‘horrible’ Google review” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Eugene Volokh]
  • Section 230 vindicated: “Judge Tosses Charges Against Backpage Execs, Tells Kamala Harris To Take It Up With Congress” [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason]
  • Breaking Thursday morning: court allows defamation claims by climate scientist Michael Mann to go forward against several defendants including Rand Simberg of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and columnist Mark Steyn, but throws out claim against National Review editor Rich Lowry over editorial [BuzzFeed, Jonathan Adler, CEI statement quoting CEI’s Sam Kazman and attorney Andrew Grossman]

When legal action punishes speech

Panel discussion from the Federalist Society Lawyers’ Convention with Profs. Arthur Hellman and Patrick Parenteau, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and Kim Strassel of the WSJ, moderated by Eighth Circuit judge Steven Colloton and introduced by John J. Park, Jr., on political and ideological investigations from the Wisconsin John Doe episode through various failed or overextended public-official corruption cases to AGs-vs.-climate-deniers. “It is noteworthy that the worst abuses have taken place in state courts. Should Congress allow removal to federal court when a defendant makes a plausible case that the relief sought would violate rights under the First Amendment?”

Free speech roundup

  • Tomorrow (Tues., Dec. 6) Cato Digital presents panel discussion “Free Speech in the Age of Trump” with Flemming Rose, Nick Gillespie, and Kat Murti [register or watch live online]
  • Eventually, Supreme Court will have to consider a First Amendment challenge to cyberbullying laws [ABA Journal]
  • Tactical use of libel suits cries out for remedy, but some remedies that are being proposed are hard to square with federalism [Sasha Moss, R Street]
  • Bill pending in Congress to protect consumer reviews (Yelp, etc.) would allow special restrictions on speech “inappropriate with respect to race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or other intrinsic characteristic” which could prove an ominous precedent [Eugene Volokh]
  • Is there a prospect for sanctions should Donald Trump sue the press for defamation? [Eric Turkewitz, pre-election if that matters]
  • Count the ways: “The government has double standards about freedom of speech” [Hans Bader]

Higher education roundup

  • Colleagues demand Oregon law prof resign over Hallowe’en costume [Paul Caron/TaxProf; Eugene Volokh (“We have reached a bad and dangerous place in American life, and in American university life in particular.”)] Title IX and expression: “What the feds have done to colleges and schools” [Hans Bader, Minding the Campus]
  • Institutional review boards (IRBs) “as a rule are incredibly difficult to study…. There is no public record of their decision or deliberations, they don’t, as a rule, invite scrutiny or allow themselves to be observed.” [Dr. Steven Joffe quoted by Tyler Cowen]
  • “An emphasis on intersectionality”: mandatory diversity course for first-years at AU now has course description [earlier] “U-M’s New ‘Chief Diversity Officer’ Will Collect $385,000 per Year” [Derek Draplin, Michigan Capitol Confidential]
  • “Plaintiffs’ Bar Steps Up Profitable False Claims Act Assault on Higher Education” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
  • Notwithstanding initial wave of critical coverage, Will Creeley says PEN report on campus speech is actually pretty good [FIRE] “Student group at Cal State Northridge boasts of ‘shutting down’ speech by award-winning scholar” [Volokh; Armenian students vs. Ataturk lecture]
  • On question whether universities must treat student athletes as employees, NLRB “may be battling for field position” with future ruling in mind [Brennan Bolt, McGuire Woods]

Media law roundup

  • In latest of string of courtroom losses for media, Raleigh News & Observer hit with nearly $6 million libel verdict [Corey Hutchins, CJR] Profile of Charles Harder, newly prominent attorney in suits against media [Hollywood Reporter]
  • Following coverage of taco trademark dispute, lawyer demands takedown of image on news story [TechDirt] “California Supreme Court will decide: Can court order Yelp to take down defendant’s post, though Yelp wasn’t even a party to the lawsuit?” [Volokh]
  • Theodore Boutrous: “I will represent pro bono anyone Trump sues for exercising their free speech rights. Many other lawyers have offered to join me.” [Ronald K.L. Collins, related chronology of Trump’s record of legal conflict with press]
  • Familiar old war on porn re-outfits itself as new war on trafficking [Collins, Elizabeth Nolan Brown on so-called Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA)]
  • Another where-are-they-now on copyright troll Prenda Law [Joe Mullin/ArsTechnica, see also on Hansmeier]
  • “The ‘freedom of the press’ doesn’t give the media any special privileges — but it’s also not a redundancy” [Eugene Volokh]

Free speech roundup

  • Guidelines urge UK prosecutors to charge those who “egg on others” to violate social media speech laws [The Register]
  • Mississippi county’s ban on clown costumes probably violates the First Amendment [Eugene Volokh]
  • Propositions placed before voters in Washington, Oregon, Missouri, South Dakota would require nonprofits to disclose donors. Chilling effects ahead should they pass [Tracie Sharp and Darcy Olsen, WSJ]
  • Blogger critical of Houston cancer researcher put through FBI investigation (and cleared) following dubious complaint [Ken White, Popehat]
  • And they’re right. “New York law to combat Citizens United is ‘constitutionally unsound’ says NYCLU” [Ronald K.L. Collins] Would Michael Moore’s anti-Trump film have run afoul of pre-Citizens United law? [Trevor Burrus]
  • Trying to count how many journalists Donald Trump has threatened to sue “quickly turned into a fool’s errand.” [Trevor Timm, Columbia Journalism Review, earlier here, etc., etc.; related, Steve Chapman on corrections] And: Trump libel threat clock resets to zero each time the mogul threatens to sue a journalist or critic. Even more: fearful he will sue, ABA stifles report critical of Trump’s litigation [New York Times]

Higher education and Title IX roundup

  • “Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge of Our Times,” recent speech by University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone;
  • University of Virginia puts professor on leave of absence after comments critical of Black Lives Matter [Hans Bader] “Yes, Brooklyn College really has a Director of Diversity Investigations.” One prof’s experience [David Seidemann/Minding the Campus]
  • “Lawyer: Why the lower standard of evidence in college sexual-assault cases is dangerous” [Robert Shibley] It’s rare for the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to stick up in favor of due process rights for accused students, but that just happened in Wesley College case [Jake New/Inside Higher Ed, Tyler Kingkade/BuzzFeed, ED press release]
  • “Northern Michigan University had — and perhaps still has — a policy subjecting students to discipline if they share suicidal thoughts with their peers.” So how bad an idea is that? [Ken White, Popehat]
  • “Historically Black Colleges and Universities struggle with Title IX compliance” [American Sports Council on reporting by David Squires/The Undefeated]
  • “University Of Michigan Gets Lost In The Tall SJW Weeds” [Amy Alkon] Georgetown offers legacy status to applicants descended from university-owned slaves; showy gesture, but anything more? [Scott Greenfield] “American University Student Government Launches Campaign for Mandatory Trigger Warnings” [Robby Soave]