Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mass. Shield Bill Fizzles in Legislature

Yesterday, The Patriot Ledger carried a story on the apparent death of a reporters' shield bill in Massachusetts.
"The effort to pass a shield law in Massachusetts offering protections to journalists and their anonymous sources was declared dead by its supporters on Monday.

"The bill would have put Massachusetts among 34 other states and the District of Columbia that have shield laws. Three days remain before the Legislature adjourns from formal session on Thursday night, and the bill has not emerged from the judiciary committee."
I was part of the ad hoc group advocating for this bill, which was spearheaded by Charles Kravetz, president of New England Cable News, and joined by a cross-section of print and broadcast media representatives. It seemed for a time that the bill had a good chance of at least making it out of committee and to the floor for a vote, but with the formal session ending tomorrow, that no longer seems likely. The legislature remains in informal session through the end of December, so it is possible something could still happen, just not, it now appears, likely.

Boston Approves New Newsrack Ordinance

The Boston City Council today voted to approve a significant overhaul of the city's ordinance governing the placement of newsracks. The most significant change is in the fees newspapers must pay. Under the prior ordinance, newspapers paid a one-time registration fee of $150. Now, they will be required to pay an annual registration fee of $300 plus annual fees of $25 per box. The new ordinance must be signed by the mayor before becoming law and then will take effect after 150 days.

The ordinance consolidates newsrack oversight and enforcement within the city's public works department and creates a system for electronically tagging and monitoring newsracks. It allows the commissioner of public works to designate locations as high-traffic areas and limit the number of newsracks in such areas. In areas where the numbers of newsracks are limited, eligibility to place boxes will go to newspapers on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here is a copy of the ordinance approved today (PDF): Boston Newsracks Ordinance 07 30 2008.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Column Wins National Press Award

Indulge me as I blow my own horn. The American Society of Business Publication Editors this week awarded me its national silver award for best contributed column in a publication with a circulation under 80,000. I received the award for the "Web Watch" column I write for the magazine Law Technology News, an ALM publication.

ASBPE announced its national award winners July 24 as part of its national editorial conference in Kansas City, Mo. My award is listed on the page of editorial award winners. This is the second award for my Web Watch column, which in 2006 won a Silver Tabbie Award for best regular column from Trade Association Business Publications International.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Podcast: Viacom v. YouTube v. Privacy

A $1 billion lawsuit by Viacom accuses Google's video-sharing Web site, YouTube, of violating its copyrights. Last week, Google and Viacom reached an agreement to allow Google to mask user information from records before handing them over to Viacom. On this week's legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer, my co-host J. Craig Williams and I discuss the case with guests Kevin A. Thompson, an attorney with the Chicago firm Davis McGrath LLC, and Lauren Gelman, executive director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. We discuss questions of privacy and piracy raised by the case and look at the lawsuit's broader implications.

You can listen to or download the show from this page. As always, you can keep up to date with all Lawyer2Lawyer programs by subscribing via RSS or using iTunes.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Judge Backs Schools in Open Meeting Case

The MetroWest Daily News reports that a Massachusetts Superior Court judge has ruled for the Wayland School Committee in an open meeting law case challenging the discussion in executive session of the school superintendent:
"A Middlesex Superior Court judge has ruled the Wayland School Committee did not violate the state's Open Meeting Law in 2004 by discussing Superintendent Gary Burton's evaluation in executive session.

"In a decision dated July 2, Judge Leila Kern said committee members were authorized to discuss Burton's evaluation behind closed doors because the discussion was directly tied to the superintendent's contract and salary."

Revised Guide to Mass. Court Records

The District Court Department of the Massachusetts courts has issued a revised version of its Guide to Public Access, Sealing & Expungement of District Court Records. The blog Massachusetts Law Updates says of it:
"This is a publication we have long loved in the law libraries for its clarity in explaining which court records are available to the public and which are not. Unfortunately, it does not explain the process of access, and what information the researcher needs to provide in order to access records. The sections of sealing and expungement are also clearly written, well annotated, and include forms."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Podcast: Zittrain on the Future of the Internet

Unless something is done to change its course, the future of the Internet, as Jonathan Zittrain sees it, is one of far less innovation and far more -- and far more ominous -- control. Zittrain, who just became a tenured professor at Harvard Law School, discusses his book, The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It, on this week's episode of the legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer.

Zittrain discusses his book, the field of Cyberlaw and his post at Harvard. You can listen to or download the show from this page. As always, you can keep up to date with all Lawyer2Lawyer programs by subscribing via RSS or using iTunes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Boston Proposes Hike in Newsrack Fees

I testified Monday at a Boston City Council hearing on an proposed overhaul to Boston's newsrack ordinance. Jessica Heslam at the Boston Herald covered the hearing and has this report: Menino pushes plan to hike fees for city’s news boxes. It was also picked up by Editor & Publisher.

Podcast: Judge Gertner on Blogging, Speech

U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner, who attracted the attention of bloggers and the news media earlier this year when she joined the roster of contributors to the new Slate legal blog, Convictions, shares her thoughts on judicial blogging and judicial speech in this week's episode of our legal-affairs podcast Lawyer2Lawyer.

Judge Gertner is the first Massachusetts judge -- federal or state -- to blog and one of only a handful of judges nationwide who blog. She believes strongly that judges should have more leeway to discuss their work, through blogs and other media. "The more we talk about what we do, the more we expose the shibboleths and the more maybe we can get back to respecting the institution," she tells us in this interview.

You can listen to or download the entire interview from this page. As always, you can keep up to date with all Lawyer2Lawyer programs by subscribing via RSS or using iTunes.