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Sep 22, 2017

Charlottesville, the First Amendment and the Press

Most reactions to the march by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., last month condemned the marchers, their message and their use of swastikas, chants and Nazi imagery. But there were also questions of why they were allowed to hold their march and spread their vile message of hate.

Sep 8, 2017

For First Time, FTC Goes After Bloggers for Paid Endorsements

I've written quite a bit in the past about the Federal Trade Commission's enforcement of its guidelines for testimonials and endorsements, which require disclosure of any payment or benefit that endorsers receive for their endorsements.

Until now, in the online realm the FTC has only pursued advertisers who have offered inducements to bloggers and others for endorsements without telling them to disclose the relationship. But now the FTC has gone after two video bloggers themselves for failing to reveal their connections to a web site that they endorsed, and has sent warning letters to individuals who posted endorsements on Instagram without revealing that they were compensated.

Aug 17, 2017

Only one star, but several legal issues

My August column for the South Carolina Press Association:

A lawsuit by a Charleston psychiatrist over a single star review on Google raises several legal issues regarding standards for the social media era, including issues that apply equally to traditional media.

Jul 19, 2017

Jul 11, 2017

Legacy Media Continue to Circle the Wagons

A story in Politico reports that White House officials asked the organization of journalists that cover the President to condemn an individual reporter in the group for an article that administration officials did not like, and that the organization refused. So why is the group voting this week on whether to exclude certain media entities from its "regular" membership, relegating them to associate member status?

Jun 16, 2017

The Media Bite Back: Legal responses to attacks against the media

My June column for the South Carolina Press Association:

The insults and haranguing of the media during Donald Trump’s campaign has continued into his presidency, with Trump and various White House officials continuing to disparage the media and its reporting. Elected officials at the state and local levels have taken up the cause as well, with examples including Texas Governor Greg Abbott joking at a firing range that he would carry around the silhouetted target “in case I see any reporters,” and Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin calling a reporter investigating his purchase of a mansion a “sick man” and a “peeping Tom.”

Jun 8, 2017

Juror Gets 30 Days, Fine for Online Research

A juror in a high-profile criminal trial of five members of a church for beating a gay congregant has been held in contempt and sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $500 for doing independent research online about (archaic, it turns out) North Carolina law and distributing it to fellow jurors. Besides punishing the juror, the judge also declared a mistrial in the case.

May 11, 2017

Local case raises question: Is journalism harassment?

My May column for the South Carolina Press Association:

In April, independent investigative journalist Ron Aiken successfully defended himself against civil harassment and stalking charges brought against him by Pinewood Lake Park Foundation CEO Liewendelyn Hart, after Aiken reported that the foundation’s use of government funds is under investigation.

May 9, 2017

Another Court Seeks World Domination

An Austrian appeals court has held that Facebook must remove posts that insult the leader of the country's Green Party, Eva Glawischnig, not only in Austria but worldwide.