Tag Archives: libel

Free Rodney Sieh

One helluva journalist is sitting in prison in Liberia. His name is Rodney Sieh. I had the great pleasure of working with him at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY. He’s sitting in prison in Liberia for printing the truth and not being able to pay a more than $1  million fine for it. I teach my students in Media Law class that the truth is the best defense in a libel suit because libel is false. Not so in Liberia, where truth and falsity appear to have little to do with libel.

Thankfully, there are ways we can show our support for Rodney. You can sign the petition to free Rodney at change.org. You can follow what is happening at freerodney.org.

My alma mater, Syracuse University’s Newhouse School, is getting involved. Roy Gutterman of the Tully Center for Free Speech is working to free Rodney. Here’s hoping Roy, and the voices of all concerned, hold sway.



Libeled on Wikipedia?

Actor Ron Livingston, whom some may know from the movie Office Space or the TV series Sex and the City, is suing an anonymous Wikipedia and Facebook writer for libel.

Livingston contends that someone has been repeatedly rewriting Wikipedia posts to say he is gay and involved with a man named Lee Dennison, according to an article in the Toronto Star. This person is also believe to have created fake Facebook accounts for Livingston and Dennison listing them as a couple, the report states.

The recently married Livingston is asking a judge to force Wikipedia and Facebook to reveal the identity of the anonymous poster.

Author ordered to pay for libeling friend

With friends like these …

The author of the New York Times best-selling book “The Red Hat Club” is out $100,000 after a jury decided that she libeled her former friend in the book.

Her friend said one of the characters resembled her in many ways — except that she was not the “sexually promiscuous alcoholic” that the character in the book is.

The jury agreed that Haywood Smith libeled her former friend.

For more details on the case, go here.

Butler drops lawsuit against student blogger

Watch out, student bloggers.

You may think you can freely spout whatever you choose in your blog, but that’s not the case. In fact, even words that you might see as standing up for your dear mom might land you in court.

A Butler University student has learned that the hard way.
Media Law Case of the Week Logo
Butler University has dropped its libel suit against a student blogger after learning his name. But that’s not the end of the story. The university is going to use “internal disciplinary proceedings” instead to punish the student instead.

And what, oh what, did this student say in his blog to cause all this ruckus?

The comments that the university considered defamatory were about administrators who removed the blogger’s stepmother from her job as chair of the music school, according to the IndyStar.

The comments included calling an administrator “power hungry” and saying that administrator “hurts the ability of the school to recruit talented students and faculty members,” according to the Indiana Daily Student.

See The Indiana Daily Student‘s fabulous editorial on the case here.

Media Law Case of the Week

When is a libel threat really an attempt to muffle criticism, in particular press criticism?

Journalists at an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, argue that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is trying to use his libel suit against the paper to do just that — shut up opposing voices, according to UK newspaper The Guardian.

And what did this paper do that the Prime Minister did not like?

La Repubblica has asked that Berlusconi answer “10 New Questions” about his relationships with several women — some of whom are reported to be prostitutes and at least one a minor.

The Guardian reports that the Italian newspaper is trying to get 500,000 people to sign an online petition calling for press freedom by Oct. 3 and that newspaper editors in Britain, Germany, Spain and France have signed it.

If you’d like to sign it, click here. To easily translate the petition from Italian to English, you can use Babel Fish.

Media Law Case of the Week

Sorry Journajunkie has been a way for so long. It’s nice to return and be back in action.

So let’s get right to it with an update to a Media Law Case of the Week from May. Some of you may remember the libel lawsuit of a politician angry that a radio host sent e-mails claiming that said politician was gay. Well, that politician — Tom Fetzer, North Carolina Republican Party chairman — is reportedly getting married next month.

The News & Observer reports that he and his fiance met while she working on a Republican campaign.

But don’t think the glow of love has led to a case of forgive-and-forget. The lawsuit is still on.

Media Law Case of the Week

Here’s yet more proof that libel is not only the concern of the journalist.

The Hartford Courant featured an interesting case in which a Connecticut mother was fined $88,000 for an e-mail campaign in which she likened her daughter’s swim coach to a pedophile. The judge reportedly said that the mother admitted to having no evidence of this.

Let’s just hope for her daughter’s sake that she does not take after mom.

Media Law Case of the Week

If a radio host sends e-mails that say a politician is gay, is that libel?

You and I might say no, but Tom Fetzer, who is running to be head of the state of North Carolina’s Republican party, says it is.

He has informed his supporters that he intends to sue radio station WLTT and corporate owner Sea-Comm Media over e-mails sent by radio host Curtis Wright that said Fetzer is gay. Fetzer says he is not.

The News & Observer has the e-mail Fetzer, former mayor of Raleigh, sent to his supporters about the legal action here.

Mr. Fetzer, be prepared to be hit with outrage.

Media Law Case of the Week

Oy vey!

Woody Allen is getting $5 million from American Apparel because it used his image — or a parody of him dressed as a rabbi — in its ads without Allen’s Woody Adpermission.

The NY Post reported the settlement today — along with this image of the ad.

The Post, by the way, is dealing with its own legal troubles. A New York State Supreme Court justice is suing the newspaper for libel after a story alleged he paid to get his seat on the bench. The latest step in the case is a series of subpoenas to the judge’s family and at least eight other judges, according to the New York Times.

Media Law Case of the Week

Sometimes life hands you a hard decision.

Do I select the libel case of a professional golfer accused of  failing “the scoundrel sniff test” or what could be the first libel case from Twitter, centering on –of all people — rocker Courtney Love?

Sorry, John Daly, but Love beats you, but not by a Hole lot. (Sorry about the pun. I just can’t help myself.)

Fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir claims that Love is on “an obsessive and delusional crusade” on Twitter, My Space and other sites that is libeling Simorangkir. The language in the statements in question, detailed here,  will come as no surprise to those familiar with Love.

Simorangkir, who formerly designed for Love, claims that the false statements have hurt her reputation and her business.