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Legal Trouble

WCBS-TV Anchor Rob Morrison Arrested for Allegedly Choking His Wife

Channel 2 morning co-anchor Rob Morrison is headed to Stamford Superior Court tomorrow. Morrison was arrested by Darien, Connecticut police Sunday morning. According to the police report that FishbowlNY obtained, Morrison choked his wife, CBS Money Watch anchor, Ashley Morrison. The couple frequently appears together on WCBS.

Morrison’s mother-in-law called police to the Morrisons’ home. Police say Morrison became “increasingly belligerent” toward his wife Saturday evening. They say it culminated with Morrison’s hands choking his wife.

Ashley Morrison did not request medical treatment, but when police arrived they allege there were red marks were on her neck. While Rob Morrison was being taken into custody, police say he made verbal threats to his wife.

He was charged with strangulation in the second degree, threatening in the second degree, and disorderly contact. A Darien police officer tells FishbowlNY that the strangulation charge is a felony. Morrison posted a $100,000 bond.

The Morrisons, who have a son, issued this joint statement today through their attorney Robert A. Skovgaard.

“Rob and Ashley Morrison are cooperating fully with the authorities to insure that all of the information necessary to properly evaluate this unfortunate incident is made available. The Morrisons are confident that a full review of this matter will show that the allegations have been greatly exaggerated.”

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Before You Sign That Book Contract

It’s finally happened: Your awesome magazine or newspaper article has led to a book deal. But before you jump to sign that contract, take a moment to read it thoroughly. Bets are, it won’t have your best interest at heart; there will be clauses hidden in the fine print that might kill your future prospects. For example:

The non-compete clause. This can prohibit writers from working on books that would compete with the existing title they are publishing. The problem is that it’s often so broadly written that it could stop you from writing magazine articles or blog posts, all of which can help to market the book.

“Any such clause should be limited to book-length work and should give the publisher a deadline for refusing a new book proposal on a related topic, which then frees the writer to pursue publication elsewhere,” advised Meg Schnieder, an Iowa-based author of 12 books, including The Everything Guide to Writing a Book Proposal.

For more information on other potential deal breakers and steps to renegotiation, read The 7 Biggest Red Flags in Book Contracts.

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How To Tell If Your Company Is Exploiting Its Interns

Sure, unpaid internships are the backbone of countless New York City media companies, but that doesn’t mean they’re all effective or even legal. Just look at Harper’s BazaarCharlie Rose and the movie Black Swan – all companies were hit with lawsuits over unpaid work by former interns.

So, avoid all the headaches by first re-evaluating your hiring process. ”Haphazardly hiring interns can be a huge waste of time for both the intern and the company,” said Marc Scoleri, co-founder and CEO of creativeinterns.com.

Instead, think of the internship as an investment and plan accordingly. “An interview and discussion about the candidates’ skills, future plans and career interests will help clarify if the candidate will be a good match — and possibly a future employee,” he said.

For more tips on developing a mutually beneficial program, check out 7 Things That Are Ruining Your Company’s Internship Program.

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New York TV Stations Are Suing Startup Backed by IAC

A number of New York television stations are up in arms about Aereo, a startup that in a nutshell, lets consumers access network television on web-enabled devices and internet TV platforms. Does that mean you can catch the game on your phone? Game changer indeed. One that Barry Diller of IAC, which led the startup’s most recent round of funding, saw value in.

The problem: Subscribers to Aereo would have access to all major networks including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW, and PBS and other local channels and these networks weren’t too happy with this technological solution. They banded together and filed two lawsuits that seek to stop the product’s forthcoming March 14 release in addition to monetary damages, reports the New York Times.

“This case is not about stifling new video distribution technologies,” said the owners of Fox, CW, Univision, and PBS in a statement, “but about stopping a company from violating our copyrights and redistributing our television programming without permission or compensation.”

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Judge Rules that Reposting an Entire Article Without Permission Is ‘Fair Use’

A federal judge ruled in favor of a defendant who reposted an entire article in a copyright case on Monday, Wired reports. The lawsuit was brought by Righthaven, a Las Vegas-based “copyright litigation factory,” according to Wired, that has sued more than 200 websites, bloggers, and commenters for copyright infringement. This particular lawsuit targeted Wayne Hoehn, who posted an entire editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and its headline, “Public Employee Pensions: We Can’t Afford Them” on a website medjacksports.com. Hoehn was not an employee of the site.

The “fair use” doctrine can be used as a copyright infringement defense in a situation where a defendant has used a copyrighted work without permission. In short, it provides a defense where the work has been used for limited, noncommecial purposes, including commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, and scholarship.  Whether or not “fair use” applies is based on a balancing test. Let’s (roughly) go over the elements as applied to this case.

For one, the doctrine looks at the effect of the reproduction on the monetary value of the original piece. While Righthaven argued that Hoehn’s reposting had cost the article’s original website some eyeballs, the judge found that no evidence was presented that “the market for the work was harmed.”

Second, the doctrine considers whether the reproduction itself is intended to make money off of using the original work. In this case, the judge found that Hahn’s use was “noncommercial,” and just for the purposes of “online discussion.”

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Did The New York Times Hack Into a Goldman Sachs’ Email Account?

That’s a pretty serious accusation. But Felix Salmon questions the New York Timesstory about the court case against Goldman’s Fabrice Tourre (written by Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson) for its dubious sourcing.

This is how they got the information: The story was sourced because a New York woman found emails in a laptop discarded in the garbage. Email messages for Tourre continued to stream in, but the woman ignored them until she heard Tourre’s name in the news for the SEC case. Then she gave the data to the Times.

That was the (heavily lawyered) explanation provided. But — even if that is the full truth — is it ethical? Even legal? Writes Salmon:

I understand that the computer was found in a garbage area, and that there’s a long tradition of investigative reporters using information found in the trash. But if Tourre left a key to his apartment in the trash, that wouldn’t give reporters the right to use that key to enter his apartment and snoop around. The laptop was essentially a key to Tourre’s email account — which held highly confidential correspondence between Tourre and his lawyers. An email account, these days, is arguably more private than an apartment, and breaking into a password-protected email account is clearly wrong.

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New York Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Huffington Post to Proceed

On Tuesday, a judge refused to throw out a lawsuit by two political consultants, Peter Daou and James Boyce, who allege that The Huffington Post’s founders stole the idea for the online news website from them, Fox News reports.

The two sued Arianna Huffington‘s site in November 2010, alleging they had originally come up with the plan for the site’s “blend of blogs by prominent contributors, news aggregation and original content.” Huffington Post denied this, and also pointed out that it was odd that both consultants waited six years before speaking up. But if the whole thing sounds like a stretch to you, it didn’t to the judge, who denied a motion by Huffington Post lawyers to dismiss the lawsuit. It’s now time for fact-finding and discovery.

Justice Department ‘Trying to Force’ New York Times Reporter to Testify on Source in CIA Leaks Trial

Former CIA agent Jeffrey Sterling was was indicted in January for telling New York Times reporter James Risen secret details of a failed CIA plot to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program in 2000. Though Risen never wrote about the plot in the Times, as the CIA convinced him it would harm national security, he did write about it in a 2006 book.

Now, the Times reports, federal prosecutors, with the approval of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., are “trying to force” Risen to testify at a criminal trial about his source.

To what extent are reporters’ conversations with sources protected? Not by any specific federal law. Nonetheless, Justice Department rules try to avoid forcing reporters to reveal information about their sources.

Justice Department regulations instruct prosecutors to “ordinarily refrain” from issuing subpoenas to the news media that could damage its “news gathering function,” citing “the importance of freedom of the press to a free and democratic society.”

But the rules also allow the attorney general to make an exception after weighing “the proper balance between the public’s interest in the free dissemination of information and effective law enforcement.”

Still, Risen plans to fight this subpoena as he has fought others on this case in the past.  “I am going to fight this subpoena,” Risen told the Times. “I will always protect my sources, and I think this is a fight about the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

(h/t Gawker)

Legal Blog ‘Above The Law’ Sued for $50 Million Over Rape Story

Popular legal industry gossip blog Above The Law and its parent company, Breaking Media, are being sued by Chicago attorney Meanith Huon, reports Forbes Mixed Media, for an erroneous blog post about rape that allegedly destroyed Huon’s reputation.

The author, Elie Mystal, linked to a story about Huon, who was arrested and charged with sexual assault (he was acquitted of all charges ultimately). But then Mystal linked to two other articles, one about Huon being charged with sexual assault and another about him being charged with cyber-stalking, making it seem like there were three separate instances (which was what Mystal probably thought had occurred).

Problem was that all three articles were actually about the same victim and incident. So Huon is suing Above The Law for making him look like a serial alleged sex-offender, instead of just a one-time alleged sex offender. For $50 million.

Yeah, that strikes us as optimistic as well. But you know lawyers, they love to sue. Huon, representing himself in the case, is also seeking control of Above The Law’s web domain (would be amazing if this worked out for him), and is also suing Madison Country for $130 million in a separate suit.

Editor Sues WABC-TV, Alleges Reporter Racial Abuse

A longtime WABC/Channel 7 editor, Gerardo Lago has filed an $18 million lawsuit against ABC and Disney. Lago alleges that he suffered verbal abuse at the station on multiple occasions.

Reuters reports Lago is accusing three WABC reporters, Lauren Glassberg, Kemberly Richardson, and Stacey Sager of making “abusive, offensive and demeaning” comments towards him based on his Hispanic heritage.

Lago worked at WABC for over two decades before being put on medical leave last October, according to Reuters. After he refused to undergo an independent, psychological examination, the station suspended Lago without pay on February 3rd.

Our sister site TVSpy has more details on the story.

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