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#What the HashTag? Legal TweetChat for Web Journalists March 26, 2010

Posted by lborodkin in : Uncategorized , add a comment

Cory Doctorow predicted that printed newspapers will become like opera, the province of “rich weirdos.” Despite this, journalism is alive and well in the new media era, and living in Cyberspace.

To help such online journalists, I participated in a Legal Issues Panel on Episode 7 of WJChat through TweetChat with some of the legal leaders in new media journalism. The panel was assembled by Robert Hernandez (@webjournalist), who teaches a course in Online Journalism at USC’s Annenberg School.

My fellow panelists were Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (@EFF), David Ardia and Kimberly Isbell of Harvard’s Citizen Media Law Project (@CitMediaLaw) at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Jack Lerner (@JackLerner) of USC’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Clinic.

Here is the transcript of WJChat Episode 7. A more coherent digest of the panel discussion is here.

If the formatting looks wonky, that’s because it is. My Columbia Law Review editors would have had a minor heart attack back in the day where we debated such fine points as whether to end possessive plurals with an ” s’ ” or an ” s’s. ” (For grammar geeks, it was decided that official Columbia Law Review style that year was to use the full ” s’s ” because the then-Editor-in-Chief thought the ” s’s ” conveyed plural better than a “lonely single apostrophe hanging out by itself.”)

As a matter of pure Blue Book style, I agree. But I don’t get a credit for my Note on the Columbia Law Review website, since I signed my copyright away. You can read it if you can afford a Westlaw or Lexis subscription.

Perhaps one day we’ll follow @BlueBook on Twitter. Properly, it would be @AUniformSystemofCitation, but that’s over the character length. In today’s Twitterverse, we wouldn’t use an extra character on subtleties such as an extra “s” or whether two spaces follow a period. Life is short, right? Maybe it’s not pretty, but we’d claim attribution for what we write.

That’s a fair trade-off, I think.

But back to the show.

The panel discussed ethical, legal and practical problems of online news gathering and reporting. We focused on issues unique to web journalism – shield laws, web commenting, quotations, expectations of privacy, Creative Commons licenses, retractions, and DMCA agents. At times, there was a division between normative law and empirical law — that is, the split in what we believe doctrines such as the Fair Use defense in copyright may or should allow, and practical rules of thumb easy enough for your average Joe or Jill citizen journalist to stay out of trouble.

Here are some useful resources for online journalists that came out of the discussion:

EFF’s Legal Guide for Bloggers
The Online Media Legal Network
PACER.gov and RecaptheLaw for federal cases
(To this, I add FindaCase.com.)
flickr.com for Creative Commons-licensed photos
archive.org for web history
http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/agent.pdf to register a DMCA agent
EFF’s guide to Section 230 Protection
EFF’s Bloggers as Journalists

My final tip? Be true to yourself, be accurate, and check your sources.

Nike+ Human Race for A Better LA December 9, 2009

Posted by lborodkin in : Uncategorized , add a comment

So December 1, 2009 has come and gone and I’m going to put some of these new FTC guides in action with this long-belated writeup of the Nike+ Human race last October 24.

Nike had some extra spots on the eve of its 5K/10K midnight running event on October 24, 2009 through downtown LA and invited a few bloggers. The event took place in some 30 cities worldwide. In Los Angeles, the event partnered with USC and USC football coach Pete Carroll’s charity, A Better LA.

I had been interested in running one of these “something-K” races in general, and in seeing how a coordinated multi-city event like this worked, so when a fellow LAist staffer said Nike’s coordinator had room for a few more bloggers, I jumped at the chance (and recruited a second into the mix).  And like magic, boxes of Nike shoes, performance wear and a funny “Nike+” race timer appeared at the designated drop point.  They also gave us passes to the pre-game tailgate for the USC-Oregan State game happening the next day.  And media parking passes, a hot commodity in downtown LA. So like good little bloggers, we put the stuff on that seemed to fit, and did the run.

Here are some sights and sounds from that night:

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

While I do agree with those that thought the loud DJ music and bright strobe lights might be a bit unnecessary, when I asked the Nike rep who helped us register “why midnight?” she replied “because it’s fun!” And my other cavill was that the lyrics in the music at the pre-Oregon State tailgate party were less than family-friendly. Still, they were very nice and let our plus one in. Also they had some interesting folded and perforated burgers, beer and cupcakes at the tailgate (why cupcakes, always?).

Thanks again to Nike for inspiring 7,000 to 8,500 of us to get out of our cars and run for a while, to the local law enforcement for clearing our paths, for the scattered bands of musicians, singers and other entertainers who lightened our hearts in running the course, and to the local residents for putting up with us passing through their residences and workplaces.

Takeaways to ponder: why do we run?  What is your idea of a better LA?

More coverage by LAist and Caroline on Crack.

Thanks to Nike, USC and a Better LA.