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Legal Trouble

Police Accused of Questioning Former WABC-TV Weather Anchor Heidi Jones Inappropriately

The legal troubles of former WABC-TV weathercaster Heidi Jones may have taken a turn in her favor. Our sister site TVSpy reports that police officers who took her false claims may have inappropriately questioned her.

In January, Jones was charged with two misdemeanors–punishable by up to one year in prison–for allegedly faking the story of a sexual assault in Central Park last September.

TVSpy has the latest developments.

Myspace Sued for Giving Away Member Data Without Consent

Bloomberg reports that News Corp.’s Myspace was accused in a lawsuit of giving data to aggregators that associates members’ names with their Internet browsing history, without member’s consent.

“Myspace knowingly serves as and profits handsomely from being a conduit through which details of the most intimate aspects of its members’ lives…are transmitted to data aggregators,” wrote the complaint, filed today in federal court in Brooklyn.

Hmm. We’re not so sure about the “profits handsomely” part. The complaint may be the only document we’ve seen accusing the failing company of doing well at anything.

News Corp. is in talks to hand over control of Myspace to, and it remains to be seen if this lawsuit will affect the transfer. Myspace, we think it’s fair to say, has been having a really, really bad run of things lately.

Thomson Reuters Being Sued for Reprimanding Employee Over Tweets

Be careful when asking your employees to tell you what they really think in a public space.

A supervisor at Thomson Reuters invited employees to post about how to make Reuters the best place to work, the New York Times reports. Deborah Zabarenko, Reuter’s environmental reporter in Washington and the head of the Newspaper Guild, sent the following tweet: “One way to make this the best place to work is to deal honestly with Guild members.”

Well, could be worse, right? But then the next day Zabarenko received a call at home from the bureau chief:

He told me that Reuters had a policy that we were not supposed to say something that would damage the reputation of Reuters News or Thomson Reuters. I felt kind of threatened. I thought it was some kind of intimidation.

Really, really bad move on behalf of Reuters, as Zabarenko was not in fact intimidated, and decided to step forward. Now the National Labor Relations Board is suing Reuters on the grounds that it violated her right to discuss working conditions, and everyone knows about the story, and whether or not there is a cause of action here, Reuters just looks evil.

Media Giants Gang Up on News Reader App Zite over Alleged Copyright Violations

The Apple iPad news reader app Zite has been making some powerful enemies.

Kara Swisher reports that a round-up of scary media giants including The Washington Post, AP, Gannett, Getty Images, Time, Dow Jones, and many other organizations issued a cease-and-desist letter today to Zite, a content aggregator, citing a ton of copyright violations.

“The Zite application is plainly unlawful,” said the letter to Zite CEO Ali Davar.

“It’s a bummer that they did this, but we expected it,” Davar told Swisher, sounding less terrified than we would have thought. Yeah, it does seem like sort of a bummer.

Davar said Zite, which aggregates personalized content by getting cues from user interest, would comply with the cease-and-desist letter by shifting the content from its “reading” mode to a Web one, which actually points to publisher sites.

Conrad Black Is Out Of The Slammer, Much To The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Delight

Conrad Black is a free man. The former publisher was released from a Florida federal prison this week. We done told you there was a chance of it happening.

The Chicago Sun-Times, for one, could not be more thrilled:


Wall Street Journal Reporter Arrested in Chicago

Handcuffs.jpgWall Street Journal reporter Douglas Belkin was arrested yesterday at a Chicago federal building while covering the trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich.

The New York Observer contacted a Journal spokesperson about the matter:

“Doug Belkin was wrongfully arrested and charged with petty offenses for nothing more than routine newsgathering,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “We stand behind our reporter, and will aggressively fight these unfounded charges.”

Belkin was trying to interview an attorney. A security guard told the Chicago Sun-Times Media Wire, “I told him three times to back up and he didn’t.” And, “He put his hands on me.”

Belkin’s enthusiasm is understandable; Blagojevich’s attorneys unexpectedly announced they were resting their case in the federal corruption trial, putting the kibosh on the possibility of Blagojevich taking the stand to defend himself as he had previously promised. Here’s a tidbit from today’s Journal story on the Blagojevich proceedings by Belkin and fellow Journal reporter Danny Yadron:

After Mr. Blagojevich told U.S. District Judge James Zagel that he wouldn’t testify on his own behalf, the defendant signed autographs with a blue ball-point pen on the tan tickets issued to spectators at the trial until a marshal ordered him to stop.

Conrad Black Might Be Comin’ Back

This might turn out to be a pretty nice week for Conrad Black (or, alternately, “Conrad Moffat Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour”) if all goes according to (some people’s) plan.

The former publisher, incarcerated for fraud and obstruction of justice in 2008, could be leaving jail very, very soon. A federal appeal court granted Black bail yesterday while it looks over his convictions in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. Experts say his convictions could be reversed this week.

Here Media Freelancer Troubles Keep Popping Up

heremedia07162010.pngOur compatriots over at FishbowlLA have been diving deep into freelancers’ struggles to get paid by Here Media‘s publications. The latest post involves writer and translator Jeffrey Essman and Here Media’s New York affiliate Alyson Books:

Since posting a few days ago about the incredibly hard time we were having getting Advocate parent company Here Media to cough up 175 bucks they owe us for freelance work, we’ve gotten letters from multiple people telling us their similar nightmare experiences with the company. The latest comes from freelance writer/translator Jeffrey Essmann, and oh is it bad.

Read Essman’s tale of woe, restaurants, and small-claims court over at FishbowlLA.

New York Times, AP Side With Loathsome Funeral-Crashing Church in First-Amendment Dispute

In an extreme case of strange bedfellows, The New York Times, the Associated Press and 20 other media organizations have announced their support of the gay-bashing, funeral-crashing Westboro Baptist Church in a dispute over First Amendment rights.

The media outlets said in a Supreme Court filing that even though the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemembers with signs that say things like “God Hates Fags,” is pretty contemptible, its actions deserve constitutional protection:

Most reasonable people would consider the funeral protests conducted by members of the Westboro Baptist Church to be inexplicable and hateful. Without a doubt, the church’s message of intolerance is deeply offensive to many, and especially so to gay Americans, Catholics, veterans, and the families of those who sacrificed their lives defending the United States. But to silence a fringe messenger because of the distastefulness of the message is antithetical to the First Amendment’s most basic precepts.

Stars and Stripes, a news service targeted at the military community, reports:

At the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq in 2006, church members were nearby with signs that said “God hates you,” “You’re in hell,” and “Semper Fi fags.” They also distributed fliers with Snyder’s picture on it that read “Burial of an Ass.”

Snyder’s father sued the church and won at trial, but he lost an appeal and was ordered to pay more than $16,000 in court costs. The case is now going before the Supreme Court.

List of the organizations that filed the brief after the jump.

Read more

48 HR Magazine Responds To CBS

The aptly-named 48 HR magazine, which was created by a team of contributors over the course of one weekend, received a cease-and-desist letter from CBS, who thought the name was just too gosh darn similar to their “48 Hours” series, utter lack of vowels notwithstanding.

One of 48 HR‘s founders, Mat Honan, in the grand tradition of both Scott “I’M A DIRECTOR!” Baio and Courtney “???” Love, took to Twitter to express his displeasure, as well as to warn that, if CBS gets its way as it seems it will, the future of 48 HR will remain uncertain:


Honan told Business Insider that, the very day he posted the Tweet, he received notice from CBS demanding the following: that CBS be permitted to vet the magazine’s new name (60 MNTS was far too ambitious anyway, and Andy Rooney Growls From A Bunker was deemed off-putting) and that the network be granted ownership of the magazine’s existing URL,

Honan called CBS’ conditions “unreasonable,” adding: “I don’t feel like they’re negotiating, I feel like they’re demanding.”