Broadcasters have until October 15 to file a writ of certiorari, which I’m told they plan to do. They’ll ask the Supreme Court to review lower court decisions that upheld Aereo’s right to continue operating while it defends itself against charges that its streaming service violates TV station copyrights. ABC, CBS Fox, NBC and others say Aereo breaks the law by transmitting their shows to its Internet subscribers without paying a license fee. Aereo counters that consumers have the right to watch broadcasters’ free over-the-air signals, and it simply leases the antennas and equipment people need to take advantage of that right. Aereo won a big victory last year when U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan in New York rejected broadcasters’ request for a preliminary injunction in the copyright infringement case. Broadcasters challenged the decision, but 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Droney, writing for the majority, sided with Aereo saying that its transmissions “are not ‘public performances’ of the Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works.” Fox said in July that it might take the case READ MORE »
The National Labor Relations Board can go ahead with its administrative trial this month on charges that Cablevision resorted to intimidation, bribery and harassment to stop some of its workers in the Bronx from joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Chief …
The cable company is responding to its loss on Friday at the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C.: Justices upheld the National Labor Relations Board’s authority to hold an administrative trial this month on charges that Cablevision resorted to intimidation, bribery and harassment to stop some of its workers in the Bronx from joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA) — part of a long-running series of disputes between the company and the union. But Cablevision now wants Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — the Circuit Justice for D.C. — to stay the Appeals Court decision. Cablevision argued that the NLRB lacks a quorum. The company says that President Obama’s recess appointments were illegal because they were made while the Senate was on an intrasession break, not between sessions. Cablevision also says that an appointment can only be made to positions that open up during a recess.
It was a nice stroke of luck for MSNBC today during its coverage of the Supreme Court’s decisions rejecting the federal Defense of Marriage Act and essentially overturning California’s Proposition 8 that prevented same-sex couples from marrying in the state. President Obama interrupted the live interview with a …
Careful to not make any live on-air mistakes, the networks moved cautiously today reporting the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage rulings. At 7 AM PT, the Court released its last set of rulings for the current with two same sex marriage decisions. With Today’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie heading coverage, NBC was first to go to a Special Report with their legal correspondent Pete Williams first to declare at 7:02 that the Court had struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. With George Stephanopoulos in the chair, ABC followed shortly afterward. CBS did not hit the Special Report graphic button until 7:04, with Charlie Rose and Norah O’Donnell coming on to talk to the CBS correspondent outside the Supreme Court building. CNN reported at 7 AM that the Court had made decision but, not wanting to repeat their mistake of initially getting the Court’s 2012 Obamacare ruling wrong, waited until 7:08 to get into the actual ruling itself. FNC reported the decision at 7:04.
UPDATE, 12:04 PM: The MPAA says that today’s Supreme Court decision “will hinder American businesses’ ability to compete overseas to the detriment of the long-term economic interests of the United States, and particularly its creative industries.” The trade group adds that it will “study the decision further before determining the most appropriate action for us to take.”
PREVIOUS, 9:55 AM: The 6-to-3 decision just handed a big defeat to the MPAA and other content providers by potentially undermining companies’ ability to charge different prices for books, CDs, DVDs, software, video games and other works in different countries. In the case, Kirtsaeng v John Wiley & Sons, entertainment companies sided with the book publisher against an entrepreneurial Thai college student studying in the U.S. Supap Kirtsaeng discovered that textbooks cost far less in Thailand than in the U.S. He turned that into a business, importing textbooks that he re-sold here for less than the publisher charged. Wiley said that violated its copyright; Kirtsaeng said it complied with the first-sale doctrine that enables people to freely re-sell content that they’ve bought. The MPAA and RIAA said in a brief supporting Wiley that extending the first-sale doctrine to works sold abroad “could impede authors’ ability to control entry into distinct markets, limit their flexibility to adapt to market conditions, or undermine territorial licensing agreements.”
John McTiernan has run out of ways to get out of serving a year in prison for his role in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping scandal. On Monday, the Supreme Court decided it would not hear the Die Hard director’s appeal to reverse his guilty plea in the case. McTiernan was sentenced to 12 months behind bars in October 2010 after pleading guilty that summer to two counts of making false statements to the FBI in 2006 and one count of perjury for lying to a federal judge while trying to withdraw a guilty plea. McTiernan had played fast and loose with the truth with the bureau: He denied ever talking about wiretapping with Pellicano. However, the FBI had recordings of the Hollywood P.I. talking about McTiernan hiring him to wiretap producer Chuck Roven during the making of 2002′s Rollerball. Pellicano is currently serving 15 years in jail on racketeering charges.
“Most of the American people would see 15-second takeouts, and they wouldn’t be characteristic,” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia tells C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb in an interview to be broadcast this Sunday. Lamb has long championed cameras in courtrooms including the Supreme Court — and Scalia has …
It’s a mixed day for broadcasters at the U.S. Supreme Court — but with a limited win for CBS in the case of Janet Jackson’s famously exposed nipple in her performance with Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl. Justices upheld a lower court ruling that overturned the FCC‘s $550,000 fine against the network for violating rules that limit indecent broadcasts. It was unclear at the time whether the FCC’s ban on fleeting expletives also applied to fleeting images, Chief Justice John Roberts said — adding, though, that Jackson and Timberlake “strained the credulity of the public by terming the episode a ‘wardrobe malfunction’.” Since then, the FCC has clarified its rules somewhat. “It is now clear that the brevity of an indecent broadcast—be it word or image—cannot immunize it from FCC censure,” he says. As a result, “any future ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ will not be protected” on the same grounds.
UPDATE, 1:25 PM: The networks’ online video ratings announcement looks like thin gruel to the Parents Television Council, which fights broadcast indecency. The TV content ratings system is “a facade” marred by “inaccurate and inconsistent ratings designated by the networks themselves with no accountability,” PTC President Tim Winter says. If each network ends up with a different system then it will “promote even more inconsistency.” The timing of the announcement just before the U.S. Supreme Court’s expected ruling on broadcast decency strikes him as an attempt “to sway the Court’s and the public’s opinion. This is too big an issue to continue playing games.”
PREVIOUS, 5:36 AM: It’s no coincidence that the carefully stage-managed announcement was released as we await the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on how to handle broadcast indecency. And it raises more questions than it answers. Basically it says that each network’s website will decide how it will use ratings information for streamed shows, but they’ll do something by December. Will any make it possible for parents to automatically block certain shows on their kids’ computers? We’ll see. Meanwhile, the usual suspects are right on schedule with prepared statements supporting the announcement. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says he applauds “the networks’ commitment to empower parents.” No one will be shocked to learn that network-backed advocacy group TV Watch also likes the news. “Parents have overwhelmingly stated that they, not the government, are better at making decisions about what their children view on television” says executive director Jim Dyke. “By taking this step today, these networks are giving parents an expanded set of tools to help determine what their children watch based on their own taste, style and age.” Here’s the announcement:
The U.S. Supreme Court seemed disinclined during a hearing today to meddle with FCC rules governing decency on the public airwaves. The nation’s television networks seek to overturn a 1978 decision that upheld the FCC’s authority to regulate radio and television content, at least during the hours when children are likely to be watching or listening. For a long time following the 1978 ruling the FCC let slide without penalty occasional one-time uses of curse words. But following several awards shows with cursing celebrities in 2002 and 2003, the FCC toughened its policy. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York declared the FCC policy unconstitutionally vague. Chief Justice John Roberts, the only member of the court with young children, said “All we are asking for, what the government is asking for, is a few channels where … they are not going to hear the S-word, the F-word, they are not going to see nudity.” Justice Antonin Scalia also favored regulation. “These are public airwaves. The government is entitled to insist upon a certain modicum of decency.” Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested the indecency rules were “an important symbol for our society, that we aspire to a culture that’s not vulgar in a very small segment.”
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Tuesday debated whether Congress could force the Supreme Court to allow cameras to broadcast arguments live — or whether it even should. The sticking point, of course, is that whole separation of powers thing. …