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Government Can Help Online Media by Revamping
Underlying Legal Structure, Media Attorney Bruce Sanford
Suggests in New Speaking Freely Paper
FOR RELEASE: July 1, 2010
Contact: Richard T. Kaplar
The Media Institute
Arlington, Va., July 1, 2010 – Government can play an appropriate role in helping journalism prosper on the Internet – but it involves providing the underlying legal structure and preventing unfair competition, rather than offering subsidies or making media companies nonprofit. That critical distinction is outlined by noted media attorney Bruce W. Sanford in a new Speaking Freely opinion paper released today.
“The anxiety over the Internet’s impact on the business model for journalism ignores the underlying legal rules and public policy that structure any business on the Web,” Sanford says.
Revamping the legal structure in a way that allows journalism to prosper online “is consistent with media autonomy,” he says, and “would serve the Federal Trade Commission’s mission to preserve competition.”
Among Sanford’s recommendations: a change in copyright legislation to clarify that the routine copying of an entire website’s content is not fair use; creation of a federal unfair-competition law that protects content creators from “hot news” misappropriation; and a temporary antitrust exemption to permit media companies to collaborate in the public interest.
Sanford’s paper, “Revamped Legal Structure Is Key to the Future of Journalism,” is the latest in the Speaking Freely series published jointly by The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, Va., and The Media Institute in Arlington, Va.
Sanford is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Thomas Jefferson Center, and is a member and former chairman of The Media Institute’s First Amendment Advisory Council. His paper is based on a presentation he made to the Federal Trade Commission as part of its ongoing “future of media” inquiry. Sanford is a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Baker Hostetler LLP.
“Revamped Legal Structure Is Key to the Future of Journalism” is available from both organizations in hard copy and on their websites: www.tjcenter.org and www.mediainstitute.org.