A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Twitter

Spike Lee’s Twitter Vigilantism

Spike Lee

By LASIS Staff

Back in April 2012, then LASIS  reporter (and now Credit Suisse attorney) Jessica McElroy examined the death threats made against an elderly Florida couple (who as it happened, had nothing to do with the shooting of Trayvon Martin), after filmmaker Spike Lee tweeted their address to all his followers, under the mistaken belief that it was George Zimmerman’s address.

As Ms. McElroy put it: “Mr. Lee is lucky that nothing happened to the McClains or their property. As it is, the McClains could have sued Mr. Lee for his negligent actions, and if they prevailed, the court would have reached into his deep pockets for compensatory damages (money that the defendant pays to cover the out-of-pocket costs of the plaintiff’s injury) and possibly punitive damages (to punish Mr. Lee).”

Mr. Lee’s luck may have run out.

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Some Legal Advice for Dr. Phil

Rape victim

By Courtney Weinstein 

When I hear the word “alcohol,” I think of good times, socializing, and letting my hair down. The word “sex” for most of us connotes pleasure, reproduction, and maybe even love. While these associations are all positive, we have to consider the devastating truth of what sometimes happens when alcohol and sex are combined.

Rape.

It has been estimated that 25 percent of American women have experienced sexual assault. That number is astounding. What I was not aware of until recently is that approximately half of those cases involve alcohol consumption, by either the victim, the perpetrator, or both.

In August, one of the best-known television personalities, Dr. Phil, took a poll via Twitter. His tweet: “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her? Reply yes or no to @drphil #teenaccused.” We don’t know the result of the poll because the tweet was deleted after people expressed anger and outrage by his seeming flippancy on a sensitive subject.

As clumsy as the tweet may have been, the question that was raised is an important one. When does the combination of alcohol and sex negate consent?

LASIS goes where the Twitter-sphere feared to venture.

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The Definition of Chutzpah?

Brian Holloway Trashed House

By Zachary Edelman

The prospect of having a second, third or fourth home is alien to many of us on tight budgets. But get this, there are gorgeous mansions sitting on acres upon acres of land all across the country that sit furnished, vacant and vulnerable for months of the year.

Some teenagers must have wondered what it would be like see life as Jay Gatsby, even if just for a few hours, because on August 31 former NFL Lineman Brian Holloway, who was at his home in Lutz, Florida, was alerted to a party going on at his rural vacation home in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. And what a party it was. Walls inside the house were spray-painted, the floor was peed on, furniture was broken and personal possessions were stolen, causing up to $40,000 in damages.

For a country outraged over revelations that the NSA tracks our every move, we sure don’t make it difficult for the government (or anyone else) to see exactly what we are up to; we broadcast to the world our every moment via one social media site or another. The teens who ransacked Mr. Holloway’s home were no different, taking and posting and tweeting and Instagram-ing dozens of photos of themselves cavorting and drinking and drugging inside Mr. Holloway’s (extra) house.

Mr. Holloway was angry, as any homeowner in his situation would be, and created a website aggregating all the evidence of revelry that evening adding the partiers names to the tweets and pictures. Mr. Holloway, who has worked with the substance abuse prevention program D.A.R.E., lists one main objective on his website– to turn the incident into a force for good by allowing the still impressionable youths to redeem themselves and reject the path of drinking, drugs, crime and violence.

Mr. Holloway must have suffered a concussion or two during his NFL career, because he is delusional if he thinks teenagers who break into a vacant house to party are going to change their ways as the result of a website. His invitation to the hellions to help him clean his house fell on mostly deaf ears; only five teens — of nearly 300 –showed up to help him clean the mess.

If you’re thinking the kids didn’t show up because they were grounded, think again. In fact, their parents are mad – even livid. But not at them. At Mr. Holloway. The indignant parents have threatened to hurt Mr. Holloway; at the very least, they are threatening to sue. (Some people might call this the very definition of “chutzpah”). Reposting the photos and identifying the culprits, they say, could “ruin their kids’ college plans.”

Lots of reports out there, but no analysis of the merits of the potential lawsuits against Mr. Holloway.  LASIS investigates.

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Hey That’s My Line! Now Pay Me!

Samsung Apple Ad

By Will Bartholomew

Cut to: A scene outside an Apple Store. A long line waiting for the doors to open. The text on the screen flashes “Los Angeles, California.  Only 7 hours to go.”

Young guy in a grey sweatshirt: “I heard that you have to have an adapter to use the dock on the new one.”

Another young guy in a grey sweatshirt “Yeah, yeah, but they make the coolest adapters!”

Samsung’s latest ad campaign skewers the cult of Apple by featuring hipster-types uttering lines like these. The ads are caustic. They target, grab hold of, and shake for all it’s worth the perception that Apple devotees are snooty, entitled, and clueless about the inferior caliber of their beloved products. The message is like a heat-seeking missile homed-in on the most vulnerable chinks in Apple’s armor.

These ads didn’t spring from the minds of marketing gurus in gleaming Manhattan towers, though. As The Wall Street Journal reports, many of the lines are the brainchildren of regular folks — maybe sitting on their couches, in sweats — posting on Twitter.

I don’t know about you, but if I came up with a real witty zinger, and then saw it in an ad on TV, I’d want some credit.  And compensation. Would I get it?

Is what we post on social networks our intellectual property? When our social networking gems are used by marketers — or in TV shows, movies, books, or music —have they been stolen? Can we sue?  LASIS explains.

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New Politics: Fake Twitter Accounts

twitter-follow-me-post3

By Lauren Luptak

As politics in the upcoming presidential election heats up, politicians are creating new and inventive ways of campaigning – they are taking politics to the Internet. Innovation doesn’t come without pitfalls, however. Eric Fehrnstrom, a strategist for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and Scott Brown’s 2012 Senate campaign in Massachusetts, was recently discovered to be the author of a nasty Twitter account, @CrazyKhazei, that poked fun at reporters covering Massachusetts politics and mocked a Democratic candidate in the Massachusetts Senate race, Alan Khazei.

The story broke in late August, posted first by the Blue Mass Group and then picked up by the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Senator Brown immediately claimed that he was unaware of Mr. Fehrnstrom’s tweeting and ordered the Twitter account to be shut down (which it has been), but the damage was already done.

Mr. Fehrnstrom’s identity was uncovered when he accidentally tweeted an @CrazyKhazei tweet from his personal Twitter account, @EricFehrn. Many of the @CrazyKhazei tweets were distasteful and inappropriate. Although reporters came down hard on him, and one blogger even accused Mr. Fehrnstrom of cyberbullying, he seemed unapologetic and unruffled and in an email, sent August 24, 2011, to the Boston Globe wrote, “Sometimes we take our politics too seriously and this was my way of lightening things up,” followed by a blasé “if you can’t stand the tweet, get out of the kitchen.”

Although there has been expansive media coverage, no one has yet addressed the important legal question arising from this situation. What—if any—are the legal consequences for pretending to be someone else on Twitter?   (more…)

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