September 2008 Quick Links, Part 2

By Eric Goldman


* In the Harry Potter fair use case, the court declared that the Lexicon encyclopedia isn’t fair use.

* The judge declared a mistrial in the Jammie Thomas case.

* Designer Skin v. S&L Vitamins has reached its denouement. Previous blog coverage of the case (1, 2). In the prior ruling, the judge denied the plaintiff damages for the copyright infringement. In the final ruling, the court enjoins cutting and pasting product shots but allows the defendant to recreate the product shots. Ronald Coleman has more here and here (noting that the court says that, per MercExchange, an injunction does not automatically follow from a finding of copyright infringement).

* Wired’s 5 year retrospective on the RIAA’s litigation campaign against file sharing.

Social Networking Sites, Blogs and Online Publishing

* J.S. ex rel. Snyder v. Blue Mountain School Dist., 2008 WL 4279517 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 11, 2008). Upholding student discipline for creating a fake MySpace page of principal. The school initially based the discipline on the student infringing copyright (by cutting and pasting the principal’s photo) but this aspect of the case wasn’t mentioned at all in the court’s reasoning.

* O.Z. v. Board of Trustees of Long Beach Unified School Dist., 2008 WL 4396895 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 9, 2008). Two seventh graders make a video about killing their teacher, described as:

The slide show is essentially a dramatization of the murder of Mrs. [redacted]. The first slide photo states, “Mrs. [redacted] dies.” Throughout the slide show there are photos of Plaintiff dressed up in a costume, depicting a woman meant to resemble Mrs. [redacted]. There is red text on each slide photo that describes the scene. One slide says, “Jelly Donut’s knife: haha fat bastard. here i come!” In this same photo, the viewer can see a butcher knife lunging at Mrs. [redacted] character from the camera’s point of view. The butcher knife is then laid on the fallen victim while the text reads, “hehehe. i’m a shank yoooooooooo!” At the end of the slide show, it reads, “your [sic] dead, BITCH! :D”.

I think they thought it was funny, but no one else did. One of them posted the video to YouTube. It’s unclear what happens to the poster, but the co-content creator was suspended and forced to transfer to another school for her eighth grade. In this case, her TRO request is denied, even if she didn’t intend the video to be publicly distributed and even if the video was not a “true threat.”

* Spanierman v. Hughes, 2008 WL 4224483 (D. Conn. Sept 16, 2008). Teacher who was fired for inappropriate MySpace communications with students can’t sue the school.

* An encouraging update on the Lori Drew prosecution.

* Bill McGeveran on Facebook Beacon and legal liability.

* Good NYT article on the sociology of Facebook and Twitter.

* Sam Bayard on an interesting but confusing ruling from Montana on its shield law applied to anonymous online posters.

* Verdana Partners v. Giles. Online newspaper wins anti-SLAPP claim.

* Jardin v. Datallegro, Inc., 2008 WL 4104473 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 3, 2008). A litigant’s taking down a blog post and its comments is not destruction of evidence.

* Nemet Chevrolet has appealed its 230 loss. Previous blog coverage.

* Do Facebook’s anti-spam policies overregulate Facebook’s power users?