New Media Rights: Freedom of Expression must be respected in Wikileaks debate

New Media Rights joined the Electronic Frontier foundation and over 30 other groups in sending an open letter to U.S. lawmakers today, calling on government officials to respect freedom of expression in the debate over the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.

In the wake of Wikileaks' recent publications of U.S. diplomatic cables, some lawmakers have attacked newspapers' rights to report on the information in those documents. Other government officials have cast doubt on Americans' right to download, read, or discuss documents published by Wikileaks and even the news reporting based on those documents.

Rash legislation was proposed that could limit the free speech of news reporting organizations well beyond Wikileaks. In the open letter sent Wednesday, 30 groups, including New Media Rights, urged lawmakers to remember and respect constitutional rights as Congress continues to discuss the issues at stake.

An Open Letter to U.S. Government Officials Regarding Free Expression in the Wake of the Wikileaks Controversy
December 22, 2010

Dear Public Officials:

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony from legal and free speech experts about the possible application of the Espionage Act to the recent publication of  secret documents by the whistle-blower website Wikileaks, as well as to traditional media  outlets, Internet companies, and others who have also distributed and reported on that information.  All seven witnesses cautioned against attempts to suppress free speech and
criticized the overwhelming secrecy that permeates the United States government.  We write to echo these concerns and applaud those who have spoken out against attempts to censor the Internet.  We urge caution against any legislation that could weaken the principles of free expression vital to a democratic society or hamper online freedoms.  
Unfortunately, some government officials have already attacked newspapers’ rights to report on the releases by Wikileaks. Other government actors have made official and unofficial statements casting doubt on the right of government employees and others to download, read, or even discuss documents published by Wikileaks or news reporting based on those documents.  Others have rashly proposed legislation that could limit the free speech of legitimate news reporting agencies well beyond Wikileaks.
These actions have created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty among the general public, leading them to question their rights with regard to the documents posted by Wikileaks. As you continue to discuss these critically important issues, we urge you to do so in a way that respects the constitutional rights of publishers and the public that have been recognized by the Supreme Court. Specifically:  
•  Publishers have a First Amendment right to print truthful political information free of prior restraint, as established in New York Times v. United States.
•  Publishers are strongly protected by the First Amendment against liability for publishing truthful political information that is lawfully obtained, even if the original disclosure of that information to the publisher was unlawful, under Bartnicki v. Vopper.
•  Internet users have a First Amendment right to receive information, as repeatedly endorsed by a series of Supreme Court cases, including Stanley v. Georgia.  
•  The public has a First Amendment right to voice opinions about government activities. This is core political speech, which receives the highest protection under the Constitution.
It will be especially critical for members of Congress to keep these rights in mind as they consider any future legislation that may impact freedom of expression.  In a free country, the government cannot and does not have unlimited power to determine what publishers can publish and what the public can read. As the robust public debate about Wikileaks continues, please make sure that it includes the rights of all involved.
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
Arizona First Amendment Coalition
Association of Research Libraries
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Bob Barr, Former Congressman and Chairman, Liberty Guard, Inc.  
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Democracy and Technology
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Communication Is Your Right!
Courage to Resist
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Feminists for Free Expression
First Amendment Coalition
Government Accountability Project
Liberty Coalition
Muslimah Writers Alliance
National Coalition Against Censorship  
New America Foundation
New Media Rights
Privacy Activism
Privacy International
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Privacy Times
Progressive Librarians Guild
Sunlight Foundation
Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University

wikileaks_open_letter_final.pdf90.7 KB

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New Media Rights 2010 List of Accomplishments

New Media Rights 2010 List of Accomplishments:

Here's a brief list of just some of our 2010 accomplishments.

  • We've helped hundreds of creators with one-to-one assistance with legal issues including copyright and online publishing questions.
  • We became a cooperating attorney with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and helped many targets in predatory filesharing cases understand their digital rights.  We also helped many others who were referred for assistance with their digital rights.
  • Hosted a free film screening of 10 Tactics, a movie about how to use new media to enable global activism in October of 2010
  • Published "Social Media and the Law: Here Comes Everybody!" in the California Business Law Practitioner.
  • Helped unite diverse individuals locally to work on creative new media projects and build Drumbeat San Diego.  Registration is open for this February 5, 2011 event, so sign up today!


New Media Rights offers our services at no cost to ensure all those who create and share on the internet have access to legal help. 
We hope that you will acknowledge the value of our work and donate to us today!

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U.S. v. Warshak: Court protects email privacy under the 4th Amendment

By Thomas Yohannan


The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down an important decision that affords emails protection under the Fourth Amendment.  The amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.  In U.S. v Warshak, the court ruled that although an internet service provider (ISP) has access to private emails, the government must obtain a search warrant before it may seize and search such emails.  

The Sixth Circuit ruling also declares part of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act unconstitutional.  18 U.S.C. 2703(b) allows the government to obtain email messages with less than a search warrant. The SCA has been widely criticized by the Digital Due Process coalition for allowing government access to emails without a search warrant.  


The issue that the court dealt with in this case was the expectation of privacy that is afforded to email hosted on a remote server.  The court said:


“Given the fundamental similarities between email and traditional forms of communication [like postal mail and telephone calls], it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection.... It follows that email requires strong protection under the Fourth Amendment; otherwise the Fourth Amendment would prove an ineffective guardian of private communication, an essential purpose it has long been recognized to serve....”


It was an important decision providing protections for internet users’ online privacy in the area of emails, and articulates that the Fourth Amendment provides important limitations to the government’s ability to access private lives of its citizens, and those limits extend online. Further, the decision may nudge Congressional onlookers to amend the SCA so that a search warrant is required. 

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Whistleblower legislation supported by New Media Rights passes in the Senate

New Media Rights joined the call for stronger whistleblower protection by supporting S. 372 over the last few months with our friends from the Government Accountability Project and numerous other public interest organizations.   Last Friday, the Senate unanimously approved the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372), bringing us closer to achieving enhanced whistleblower protections than ever before. The House could vote on the bill as early as tomorrow. The letter included here encourages the House of Representatives to protect Whistleblowers and Taxpayers by passing this legislation.

As the debates surrounding the future of speech on the Internet continue, it is important to recognize the important role that whistleblowers play in exposing corruption, waste, and fraud in our governments and corporations.

To Help Pass Whistleblower Protections in the House of Representatives sign this petition.

An Open Letter to Members of the House of Representatives:

Ensure that the Bipartisan Reforms Long Supported by the House

Become Law This Year. Passing S. 372 Will Protect Both Whistleblowers and Taxpayers

               For the past two Congresses, the House of Representatives has passed, with strong bipartisan support, reform legislation that protects federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse.  This year, bipartisan support for these reforms advanced in the Senate, and late last week the Senate unanimously approved S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.   This legislation, which reflects a true compromise between Senate and House versions of whistleblower reform, must become law this year.

             In no time in our history is whistleblower reform more crucial: This country must address our growing federal debt and cannot afford to tolerate waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.  With this crisis looming, we urge you to fulfill your commitments to taxpayers and pass S. 372.

                Protecting whistleblowers is a reform that has strong support across ideological lines.  The groups on this letter are united in this urgent request that federal employees, the foot soldiers in the war on waste, fraud and abuse, get the protections they deserve.  They must be able to fight back when they are fired, harassed or demoted in retaliation for their efforts to protect the public health and safety and taxpayer dollars.

               Unfortunately, under current law the Merit Systems Protection Board rules against 99% of whistleblowers who file suit to defend themselves against retaliation.  Fear of committing career suicide leads federal workers to become silent observers when they witness fraud, waste or abuse.  Congress can and must enact a whistleblower reform law that ensures that federal whistleblowers who are punished for speaking the truth have the tools they need to fight subsequent retaliation, and win.  Congress must significantly strengthen these protections, but time is running short.  Passage of the pending Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) must be a priority for the House in the lame duck.

              We know that whistleblowers save money.  Each year, whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act save taxpayers nearly one billion dollars.  A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study of corporations globally found that employee disclosures were responsible for detection of more fraud than auditors, internal compliance officers , wand law enforcement combined.

             While S. 372 does not include every reform that our community has sought, it will dramatically improve the status quo—for whistleblowers and taxpayers.  Please do not delay in making this whistleblower protection legislation with strong bipartisan.   support law.  If you are serious about responding to American voters, reducing the debt, and ensuring the integrity of government, you will do all you can to make whistleblower reform a reality this year.


Affiliation of Christian Engineers

AFGE Council 238 (U.S. EPA AFGE Locals)

American Association of Law Libraries

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Government Employees

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

Association of American Publishers

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now 8 (ACORN 8)

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Black Autonomy Network Community Organization (BANCO)

C-10 Research and Education Foundation

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest

CERES, the Center for Environmental Research and Education thru Synergy

Citizen Power

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger

Colorado Clean Water Advocates

Concerned Citizens of Petersburg

CROP PLUS (Concerned Residents of Portland, NY + People Like Us)

Custom Employees Against Discrimination Association (CEADA)

DC Employment Justice Center

Delaware Action Group

Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO

Disaster Accountability Project

Energy Justice Network

Environmental Working Group

FAA Whistleblowers Alliance

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association

Federation of American Scientists

Focus on Indiana

Food Not Bombs

Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations

Foundation for Global Community

Fund for Constitutional Government

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives

Global Warming Education Network

Government Accountability Project

Green Party of Pennsylvania


Greenwich Citizens Committee, Inc.

Health Integrity Project

Help Abolish Legal Tyranny (HALT)

Help For Sewage Victims

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

Implode-Explode Heavy Industry, Inc.

International Association of Whistleblowers

International Medical Council on Vaccinations

Media Alliance



National Coalition of Organized Women

National Family Farm Coalition

National Forum On Judicial Accountability

National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc.

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

National Taxpayers Union

National Treasury Employees Union

New Media Rights

New Mexico Environmental Law Center

New Orleans Women's Shelter

Nuclear Watch South

OAK - Organizations Associating for the Kind of Change America Really Needs

OMB Watch

Oregon Wildlife Federation

PCP PRIDE (People Rising in Defense of Ecology)

POPULAR, Inc. - Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Restored    

Private Citizen, Inc.

Project On Government Oversight

Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Responsible Charge

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace  

Santa Monicans For Safe Drinking Water Coalition

Scientists for Indigenous People

Semmelweis Society International

Sustainable Energy and Economy Network

Tax Justice Network USA

Terra Foundation

Texas Campaign for the Environment

Texas Injured Workers

The Ecology Party of Florida

The Employment Law Group

The Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Alliance

Trivalley Cares

Union of Concerned Scientists

Voices for Corporate Responsibility

Workplace Fairness

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New Media Rights Internships

See our current listings below

New Media Rights is a non-profit, public interest advocacy organization located in the Hillcrest / Banker's Hill area of San Diego, California.

We offer free legal assistance to people who share and create on the internet. We create how-to and legal guides to empower creators to understand and use their digital rights. We also offer a free equipment and public studio.

We need interns and volunteers with a variety of skills to get involved (law students, media/communications students, filmmakers, software developers, graphic artists, web developers, etc)

If you have any further questions about the internships posted or think you may have skills to contribute please give us a call at 619-591-8870 or email us at


Click here for legal internships

Click here for media and outreach internships

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Watching the Watchers: Is Recording Airport Security Illegal?

TSA recording laws

By now, it seems like everyone on the Internet has weighed-in on the TSA body scanners and pat downs. It hasn't taken long for videos and audio recordings of inappropriate TSA procedures secretly taken in security lines to begin leaking onto the internet. A big unanswered question for travelers right now is, "Can get in trouble for recording how the TSA is treating (or mistreating) me?"

As recently as November 20th, a San Diego man was arrested when he who consented to a strip search but didn't submit to the subsequent pat down. When security found out he had recorded his encounter with TSA with his iPhone, he was also charged with "illegally recording the San Diego Airport Authority" an alleged violation of of San Diego Airport Authority rule 7.14 (a). In addition to the charge, security confiscated his iPhone.

So the question seems more important than ever: can California travellers legally record how airport security treats them?

Federal law allows recording in most situations but local and state rules usually prohibit it

This isn't the first controversy surrounding recording airport security. In 2009, a fundraiser for a libertarian political organization was detained because he was carrying a cash box filled with $4,700 of political contributions. Using his iPhone, he secretly recorded his encounter with TSA where he believed his rights were violated. As of last year, he planned on using the recording as evidence to support a lawsuit against the TSA for unlawful detainment.

In a situation where who is at-fault becomes a game of "your word against theirs" a full recording would be the best kind of evidence to set the record straight quickly and easily. Cell phone and PDA technology allows that. The only problem is that even though Federal law has relatively lax guidelines for recording airport security, local California airport regulations place total prohibitions on recording for any reason.

For example, Section 7.14 of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Codes which governs safety and security in San Diego airports, has a very clear rule on all sound and video recording.

(a) No person shall take still, motion or sound motion pictures or voice recordings on the facilities and airports under the jurisdiction of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (the “Authority”) without written permission from the Authority’s Executive Director or his or her designee.

(b) Filming of X-ray equipment located on the facilities and airports under the jurisdiction of the Authority is strictly prohibited. Any person(s) caught filming such X-ray equipment may have their film confiscated.

The regulation is so broad, it doesn't simply restrict your ability to video record a TSA inspection; these rules, if enforced, would even prohibit tourists taking photographs of the airport art, parents taking pictures of their children about to get on a plane for the first time, video blogging, podcasting, recording dictation, etc.

Arguing that this local prohibition on recording at the airport is unconstitutional may not get you very far because of the precedent set in Supreme Court cases like International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Inc v Lee, 505 US 672 which held that "An airport terminal operated by a public authority is a non-public forum, and thus a ban on solicitation need only satisfy a reasonableness standard."

Said differently, the Supreme Court has ruled in 1992 that a public airport (the vast majority of airports normal travelers fly out of) is not a place where you have unlimited rights to free speech and expression under the constitution. Any Federal, state, or local law that takes away or limits your First Amendment rights simply has to be "reasonable" (have any common sense reason for existing) to be upheld as constitutional. So despite the common misconception that local regulations like San Diego's are unconstitutional and that "you have the right... to document what happens to you" in the airport, this is simply not the way the law works right now.

What may happen to you if you decide to record and get caught

Since it's clear that it's constitutional for the local rules to strictly prohibit recording for any reason, the better question to answer may be, "What will happen to me if do record airport security?" That's difficult to know. The full text of the San Diego  Airport Code is not publicly available to determine what the penalties may be.

Moreover, other than the November 20th incident in the beginning of the the article, we could only find one other example of the rule being enforced. Recently, another woman was ticketed in San Diego for videotaping the TSA screening process. In the woman's case, her camera was confiscated and she was given a citation and released from Harbor Police custody. No information is available on the cost of the ticket.

So what can happen to you if you decide to record airport security, get caught, and they decide to enforce the rule against you? The least that will happen is you'll get you'll get your camera taken away. The worst may even be full arrest.


You do not have a constitutional right to record inside of an airport if a state or local rule exists prohibiting it. These rules only seem to be enforced though when there's a reason why airport security is already upset at you (refusing to be searched, videotaping TSA monitors). In conclusion, try not to get anyone angry, and it will be less likely that you will get in trouble. Finally, it's understandable that it's difficult to find out about the state or local airport recording laws of everywhere you travel, so you may want simply to monitor news stories to see if anyone in the state has been ticketed for recording. If so, record at your own risk.

If you have any questions about your rights to record in public, feel free to contact New Media Rights at (619) 591-8870 or through email at ... New Media Rights is a free, non-profit legal clinic that counsels on copyright, trademark, and cyberlaw issues with a mission to empower citizen media.

Photo Credit: Notice of TSA Baggage Inspection by JohnRiv


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Mozilla Drumbeat Festival - Learning, Freedom, and the Open Web has a posse

The Drumbeat festival was an intense but enjoyable 3 days.

The sheer amount of interesting people and projects that were available to immerse yourself in was a bit overwhelming at times. That said, the structure of the event made you a participant, not just an attendee, and kept you engaged from start to finish. Mozilla’s Mark Surman laid out a call to action for the event, which really involved applying a hacking, innovative, disruptive mentality to an educational and learning system in need of just that.

The most important take away for me will be the amount of meaningful connections that were made. Meaningful connections happen when people engage in building something together, whether its a tool for automatically attributing Creative Commons licensed material, or building a “sculpture” from a pile of “junk” in front of the hackbus.

Each individual’s Drumbeat experience will be unique, here’s how mine went.

1. Exploring barriers to content reuse, coming up with tools to address the problem

Nathan Yergler CTO of Creative Commons, Molly Kleinman of University of Michigan, Art Neill of New Media Rights, Hans Lemeut of WebArchivists, Timothy Vollmer and Michelle Thorne of Creative Commons as well as others discuss an automated attribution tool for CC licensed content.

Jane Park of Creative Commons facilitated a session about barriers to content reuse. We first broke into groups to identify problems/barriers with content reuse, then reconvened to discuss the main problems. After this we honed in on a single problem/barrier and generating a plan, strategy, or solution to that problem.

There are good notes on the process, problems, and solutions presented here.

Creative Commons Attribution tool - Our group (Led by Molly Kleinman and Jane Park) naturally focused in on Creative Commons licenses as this is a key way content is reused. It was clear that numerous attendees believed attribution was a key barrier. After Molly Kleinman and I identified the numerous existing guides on attribution, we developed an idea for a set of browser and application based automated attribution tools that will help downstream users of CC content easily get embed or plain text code that gives them the key items they need to attribute properly (Title of the work, author’s name, URL for the original work and license information). This is similar to modern citation capabilities in academic and legal databases. Essentially this tool tries to simplify hurdles from attribution as much as possible for the downstream user.

We continued this discussion the second day with Nathan Yergler and a crew from Creative Commons, and Molly Kleinman led work on specifications that were written for a tool in consultation with coders at the event. Targets such as Wikimedia were identified as services who could incorporate such a tool within their application.

In the end the tool was talked about by Mitchell Baker of Mozilla at the close of the event as one of the examples of what had been achieved, and Creative Commons and Mozilla were committed to pushing the project forward.

2. Data Portability

I was thankful to meet and start a collaboration with Hans Lemeut of WebArchivists around Data Portability.

Hans and I developed a statement regarding a potential Drumbeat data portability project that you can find here.

Data portability is a huge topic, so we began to break up the challenge into digestable chunks.

We began to identify various lists and analysis that needs to be done to move concepts around data portability forward. There is already a link to a chart developed by Webarchivists surrounding what certain services allow you to download of your own data.

We also identified questions that the larger open internet community must help answer to move data portability forward. Sessions where users, hackers, lawyers, and others identify the spectrum of barriers and problems with data portability, and then begin to identify the most worthwhile solutions and strategies to pursue them are a key element to moving data portability forward.

You can see our initial outline of a data portability project here, but we need community input.

We are looking for those interested in pursuing data portability on the open web, you can contact or to stay involved.

3. P2PU University - "Learning for everyone, by everyone, about almost anything"

There were great discussions both days about the future of copyright education, for educators and others.

Delia Brown, Australia’s National Copyright Director for the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training, and Youth Affairs facilitated this discussion.

Attorneys, academics, and others discussed the need to localize current course offerings based on the law in specific jurisdictions. Essentially localization requires a legion of knowledgeable local attorneys and others to develop localized resources and facilitate such courses. EFF’s is a good example of an already existing group of individuals that may be interested in building and facilitating resources around international copyright laws.

P2PU is also looking to identify additonal course offerings in the Internet law space, as well which audiences should be targeted.

I’ve offered P2PU use of New Media Rights’ as well as my own Social Media & the Law materials and class recordings, and am in the queue as a facilitator for future copyright course offerings.

4. The Hackbus & The Laptop Orchestra

This conference was not just about disrupting learning, it was also about learning from each other. I participated in the Hackbus’s flash sculpture mob on the last day of drumbeat, which involved building a sculpture out of scrap wood and random childrens toys in a square in front of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, and then running from the fake police who were summoned by Johannes.

Johannes of the Hackbus

Johannes challenges the audience

Art Neill, Valentin, and Stephanie, the Hackbus's first group of volunteers

Art (USA), Valentin (France), and Stephanie (Germany) accept the challenge

Along with watching a series of individuals perform in the laptop orchestra, this was a great way to cap my experience at Learning, Freedom, and the Web (oh, and the after party was pretty great too).

Drumbeat was a chance to build and learn with others across many disciplines, in the interest of the open web and the future of learning.

"sculpture Mob" by Samuel Huron under Creative Commons By-NC-ND 2.0 license.

"sculpture Mob candidat" by Samuel Huron under Creative Commons By-NC-ND 2.0 license

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Critics of Comcast-NBC merger expect widespread consumer frustration if merger is approved

Haven’t seen your favorite Glee or House episode lately? Your regularly scheduled sports game not airing on FOX this week? This is what Cablevision customers have to deal with as the Fox-Cablevision retransmission dispute rolls on. While you might be hard pressed to find your friends discussing the dynamics of media company rate disputes, they sure as heck know when their favorite show isn’t on.

Cablevision subscribers are continuously frustrated as FOX and Cablevision remain in a stalemate over their dispute.  Many Americans will be feeling the same way if the Comcast- NBC merger is approved.  A recent NY Times article suggests that Comcast is looking to challenge ESPN if it’s proposed merger goes through. Comcast could block ESPN content entirely, or create a paywall where Comcast subscribers would have to pay for particular events and games.  Comcast subscribers would then be forced to watch Comcast’s sports channels.

To rub salt on consumers open wounds- News Corporation tried to cut Cablevision subscribers access to shows like House and Glee via and Hulu. When Cablevision viewers attempted to find a second source for their beloved shows, many shows ended up being blacked out online and only offering a message that Fox shows were blocked from Hulu. This has never been done before and Fox was sending a message loud and clear, that consumers have to subscribe for the service providers that is willing to cough up Fox’s carrier rates.

DirecTV and the American Cable Association even echoed the concern of many media policy advocates, that the Fox-Cablevision dispute will have repercussions for the Comcast-NBC merger. DirecTV and the American Cable Association on Wednesday wrote FCC chairman Julius Genachowski saying: “Without appropriate safeguards, it is reasonable to assume that Comcast/NBCU would take similar action against non-Comcast broadband subscribers in the event of a dispute because it could increase its leverage in carriage negotiations and encourage subscriber defection to Comcast’s own video and broadband platforms,” the letter warned.

This long time dispute raised some reaction from the FCC when they wrote to the companies asking Fox and Cablevision to resolve their dispute.  The FCC still has done very little though to signal an intention to stop the long term effects of the Comcast-NBC merger or the root of the problem. In a letter to the dueling parties, the FCC writes, “Your contract dispute extends beyond just Fox and Cablevision,” it said. “It affects millions of innocent consumers who expect to watch their preferred broadcast programming without interruption. We urge you to place the interests of these consumers first and conclude your negotiations promptly.”

New Media Rights is concerned that there is plenty of evidence that the vertical integration of Comcast and NBC will stifle the success of independent creators who want to work with cable providers.  Indeed, if Fox versus Cablevision is a stalemate between giants, individual complaints from independent media would easily be steamrolled by unregulated Internet Access Providers.

Susan Crawford in her latest blog, “Sister Spat”, an excellent rundown of this retransmission case and it’s link to the merger, writes: “The media conglomerates need the tens of billions of dollars they get from the cable industry players, and the cable industry helps out by ensuring that there is almost no non-media-conglomerate programming made available.  Really, just about zero programming not owned in part by one of those five media companies comes across the cable distribution platform.”

We need all stand up for consumers and independent creators by fighting the merger.  Don’t be fooled, while Comcast would like media policy advocates and citizens to believe that they already have this merger in the bag, they don’t. We still have work to do.

To read more about why the Comcast-NBC merger matters, read Art Neill’s op-ed.

: The specific retransmission dispute lasted over two weeks and both parties have signed an agreement. The dispute affected more than three million Cablevision customers and many are still frustrated.


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10 Tactics film screening inspires ideas for Drumbeat San Diego

The film 10 Tactics was screened for the first time in San Diego, California on October 25th, 2010. New Media Rights hosted the event at the local Joyce Beers Center. 10 Tactics is a film about how rights advocates have used digital technologies to turn information into action. To see the film online visit:

New Media Rights is a San Diego based non-profit that offers free legal assistance on topics of copyright and online publishing. We also offer a free public media studio for local creators to use.

Showing the 10 Tactics film and collaborating on Drumbeat San Diego projects are rooted in community building. San Diego, California is a very diverse community of people and many groups were represented at the 10 Tactics film screening. We had activists, web developers, media activists, holistic health practitioners, student activists and many others all in attendance to watch the film and feel empowered to become involved in Drumbeat San Diego.

Laura Lee Thompson, a local compassion advocate said that the movie came at a perfect time for her, when after a feeling burnt out on her activism she was ready to take a new approach, and integrate new media tools more. We heard this time and time again where people were inspired to utilize more digital technologies after viewing the film and were excited to get involved in our local initiative called Drumbeat San Diego.

Drumbeat San Diego will be an event held in January that will mix technologists, artists, community organizations and activists. These diverse communities will come together to build new media projects that benefit the community. One of the great projects is being facilitated by Jed Sundwall of Open San Diego and Lorie Hearn of the Watchdog Institute. Lorie presented the project after the film was shown. The idea behind the project is to obtain publicly available data sets and then have journalists work on writing articles that create a story around the data. One significant way that activists and other local community members could add to this particular project are identifying which data sets would be critical to the public being better informed.

Mera Szendro Bok, Communications and Information officer at New Media Rights emphasized that everyone in the room has skills that could benefit Drumbeat San Diego projects. Drumbeat San Diego projects need the contributions of citizens expressing community needs or getting involved in community outreach and buildup to the Drumbeat San Diego. Check out our How to get Involved page to see what areas of Drumbeat San Diego you would like to work with us on!


Lorie Hearn of the Watchdog Institute speaking

here on open data and journalism Drumbeat San Diego project

Mera Szendro Bok speaking on the opportunities available to get involved with Drumbeat San Diego

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San Diego artist and filmmaker Paul Giret creates art installation, TV Monster

Paul Giret's explanation of the project:

I built a TV Monster that stands 11 feet high and incorporates 15 TVs that are displayed in a cross like fashion and run off 8 DVD Players all playing 45 Minute psychedelic Mix Tapes that I created myself by downloading videos from the Internet and messing with them inside of Pinnacle Studio and burning them onto looping DVDs.
The TV Monster made it all the way up to the La Jolla Indian Reservation and stood all Three Days of the event, however, it shorted out after only 3 hours of playtime in a blaze of gray smoke due to a lack of power being provided to the Monster. 8 out of the 12 TVs are now toast, leaving me with a new game plan and 12 months to prepare more psychedelic mix tapes (as opposed to the 2 weeks i was given to prepare for this event) so I can make the TV MONSTER even better for the Next Burning Man Decompression.

The concept for the project was to take as many images and videos from the internet and throw them into an overwhelming video display in order to give the viewer the feeling of confusion. Too much going on at one time. I took many clips from popular sharing video websites and added visual effects to them. I also transposed like videos together.

Some videos were purposely sequenced together and others were put in a completely random order. All 8 DVDs were almost completely different so that no matter what screen you were watching, something different was on display.


Art's two cents: The "feeling of confusion" the TV Monster communicated relies on fair use under copyright law. In this case, the videos have been transformed for the purpose of the artist communicating confusion rather than their original entertainment value.

See Paul's video creations on his YouTube Channel


Attendees enjoying Paul's art project

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