Posts Tagged ‘publishers’

Cavorter’s remorse, cont’d: topless mermaid suit case

Spot the antecedent of “her” in this lead paragraph from

A New York judge yesterday (September 22) dismissed a lawsuit filed against Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Vibe Magazine over a picture that showed her topless at a party hosted by the Bad Boy mogul.

It reads as if “her” would have to refer to “judge”, but not so: it was hedge fund manager Maria Kristina Dominguez who sued the magazine and music celebrity. The judge threw out her suit, ruling that the “photo was related to newsworthy issues of public interest and Dominguez had no right of privacy while cavorting topless”. More on flasher’s remorse here, etc.

National Journal Bloggers Poll

I’m on the panel of bloggers polled by National Journal in its “Convention Daily” feature. Other familiar names include Betsy Newmark of Betsy’s Page, Patrick Frey of Patterico, and Jonathan Adler of Volokh Conspiracy. It’s a secret ballot, so I’m not going to say how I voted.

Also, thanks to the U.K.’s The Lawyer for their kind words on our recent ninth anniversary (Jul. 7); they describe us as the “grand old dame presiding over the world of legal blogs”, which I’m afraid tends to conjure up Dame Edna. And a blog item by Ed Mendel at the San Diego Union-Tribune (Jun. 26) gave a mention to our brief Bill Lerach rebuttal item in Portfolio, for which thanks too.

A couple of other mentions in recent months: Jane Daniel quoted me in Publisher’s Weekly in an article on litigation against small publishers (“So (Don’t) Sue Me: A small press faces the wrath of an unhappy author”, May 12). And Keithius of CoreDump writes (Jul. 21) that he is “reading Overlawyered again. I stopped reading for a while because it just depressed me.” Let’s all try to cheer him up.

Defamation liability for print-on-demand services?

In a Maine federal case, the court ruled in effect that the book producer occupied a legal status more akin to that of a copy shop than to that of a traditional book publisher. As to the underlying dispute, Eric Goldman writes, “From my outsider’s perspective, it seems obvious that the Sandler and Calcagni families are locked in a cataclysmic downward spiral that will make some lawyers rich and will leave a lot of other people very unhappy for many years.” (Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Jul. 18).

“Is fan fiction legal? Fans are understandably nervous.”

…many commentators, and indeed, many fans themselves, operate on the rueful assumption that fan fiction does in fact infringe copyright.

Undaunted by this, Rebecca Tushnet, a professor of law at Georgetown University, and a keen fan fiction writer herself, wants to take fan fiction out of the legal shadows where it has operated, more or less at sufferance, for decades, and carve out a legal place for it within the US doctrine of fair use. She has recently helped found the Organization for Transformative Use, with the mandate to establish fan fiction within the parameters of legal, non-infringing use.

(Grace Westcott, “Friction over Fan Fiction”, Literary Review of Canada, Jul./Aug., via A&L Daily; our posts on fans as infringers).

Gay man sues Bible publishers

Bradley LaShawn Fowler wants $60 million from Zondervan and $10 million from Thomas Nelson over hurt feelings from the editorial handling of the scriptural passages in question. Yes, the suits are pro se, and the judge won’t be appointing a lawyer at public expense to handle them, which still leaves the question of whether employing coercive legal process in such a manner should be free of a price tag in the form of Rule 11 sanctions. (“Man sues Zondervan to change anti-gay reference in Bible”, Grand Rapids Press, Jul. 9)(updated link should be working again).

More: Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Success has a copy of the hand-written complaint (PDF), as well as other commentary and links. James Taranto also comments. And Bill Poser, Language Log (via our comments), on the translation issues raised by the complaint.

Update July 2015: A federal judge soon tossed the hand-scrawled complaint out of court. But the case was destined to take on an urban-legend life of its own, with mostly conservative social media outlets re-reporting it in mid-2015 as if the case were a new and significant legal development, typically omitting its date, circumstances, and disposition. One site alone at last report had reaped more than 90,000 Facebook shares from its July 2015 version.

Vegas columnist, sued for libel, declares bankruptcy

John L. Smith, whom the Las Vegas Review-Journal describes as its most widely read columnist, “has filed for bankruptcy after a two-year legal battle” with casino owner Sheldon Adelson, a subject of Smith’s 2005 book “Sharks in the Desert: The Founding Fathers and Current Kings of Las Vegas.” The newspaper wasn’t sued. Smith concedes the muckraking book contained inaccuracies about Adelson but takes issue with the tycoon’s claim of damages, pointing out that Adelson has mounted from 15th to 6th richest man in the world in the Forbes standings since the book’s publication, “so it’s hard to see how he has been harmed.” Barricade Books, associated with the late Lyle Stuart, also filed recently for bankruptcy. (A.D. Hopkins, “Columnist pursues bankruptcy protection”, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oct. 12) (via Romenesko).

15 Minutes of Fame + Lawyers = Bankruptcy

For a brief period in 2004, Jessica Cutler was the hottest story in Washington. Cutler was the Senate aide who blogged at Washingtonienne about her sexual experiences with various Beltway insiders. After being exposed (pun intended), Cutler parlayed her notoriety into a six-figure book deal and Playboy photo shoot.

Unfortunately for Cutler, she had provided enough details in her blog for people to deduce the identity of some of her sexual partners. One of those, Robert Steinbuch, decided to sue her for $20 million for public disclosure of private facts (i.e., “invasion of privacy”) — thereby becoming only one of many recent examples of someone complaining about publicity… by filing a lawsuit that publicizes the acts he allegedly wants to keep secret.

In any case, Cutler began running into problems with her lawyers — namely, that they wanted her to pay them, and she had a different idea. We covered this in June 2006 (and see the Wonkette link in the comments). Now Cutler has filed for bankruptcy. Of course, we don’t know where all of her money went, but we know a good chunk of it went to her attorneys. Good luck collecting that $20 million, Mr. Steinbuch.

(As for collecting, Steinbuch had added some deep pockets to one of his lawsuits against Cutler — Hyperion Press (which published Cutler’s book), Disney (which owns Hyperion), HBO (which purchased the television rights to her story), and Time Warner (which owns HBO) — but that lawsuit, which Steinbuch filed in Arkansas, was dismissed in February on the grounds that it didn’t belong in Arkansas. Steinbuch has appealed, but his chances of success appear low, and his claims against HBO, Time Warner, and Disney are completely meritless anyway.)