Thursday, February 23, 2023

Social Media before the U.S. Supreme Court

Can online platforms be held liable for algorithmically recommending harmful third-party content to users? 

The Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases this week that challenge the federal law regulating internet companies. Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act protects web platforms from liability for third-party content in basically the same way that telephone companies are protected. 

The first case, Gonzalez v. Google, argued February 21, was brought by the family of a young woman who was killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. Her family claims social media companies aided and abetted terrorism by recommending ISIS videos to those who might be interested in order to get more viewers and increase ad revenue. The second, Twitter v. Taamneh, argued February 22, was filed by the family of Nawras Alassaf, a Jordanian citizen who was killed in the January 2017 ISIS attack at the Reina nightclub in Istanbul. His family contends that Twitter and the other tech companies knew that their platforms played an important role in ISIS’s terrorism efforts but, despite extensive press coverage and government pressure, did not act aggressively to keep ISIS content off those platforms.

NPR's Nina Totenberg presents the legal questions here. 6 min. 55 sec.  transcript available.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Tate Gallery's Viewing Platform v. Neighbouring Luxury Flats

U.K. Supreme Court handed down a judgment February 1 saying that the Tate Gallery of London is liable to claimants in nuisance. The claimants are several owners of neighbouring luxury flats with glass walls whose rooms are under near constant observation by visitors of the viewing platform of the Tate. The court has made available a video clip of its judgment summary here with a very clear explanation of the tort of nuisance. 9 min., subtitles available. Videos of two days of hearings in December are also available.

Trademark --Thom Browne versus Adidas

A jury in Manhattan recently found that the designer Thom Browne was not guilty of infringing upon the three stripes Adidas uses in its logo. Brown, who uses four bars in his designs, says his victory was also one for other independent designers. NPR's Morning Edition has the story here. 3 min. 49 sec. transcript available.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Abortion in the United States Today

On January 17, NPR's Terry Gross aired an interview with Mary Ziegler, a law professor who has recently published a book, Roe: The History of a National Obsession. Ziegler speaks about the unprecedented uncertainty today in the United States when it comes to abortion since, after the Dobbs decision, the law covering abortion depends on the law in each state. She gives a very detailed description of the state of the law on abortion today. 44 min., almost perfect transcript available.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Chagos Islands

On December 7, Philippe Sands, lawyer, author and professor of international law, delivered the Fourth Annual Seamus Heaney Lecture at the Institute of Irish Studies of the University of Liverpool. The lecture told the story of Sands' latest book, The Last Colony. The book describes Britain's colonial legacy in the Chagos Islands and Sands' efforts, in a series of jurisdictions, to make it possible for Chagossians to return to the islands where they had been forcibly removed. 1h40 min., no transcript but really excellent subtitles you can activate.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Two Important U.S. Supreme Court Cases

On December 5th and 7th, the U.S. Supreme Court heard two cases that received widespread attention. NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg presents them both. The first case concerned a web designer who didn't want to follow a Colorado anti-discrimination statute that would not allow her to refuse to create same-sex wedding sites under the theory that her designs were a form of speech and she shouldn't be forced to present a message with which she disagreed. 4 min. 38 sec.

The second involved election law and the legal status of a novel theory that only state legislatures, not state courts or governors, have the last say about elections. Former President Trump's supporters tried to use a form of this theory to overturn the 2020 election results. 4 min. 45 sec.

There is no transcript for either recording but available with both is a text which is almost a transcript.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

 U.S. Supreme Court and Affirmative Action

NPR's Morning Edition has a piece here by Nina Totenberg about the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing a case seeking to undue affirmative action in college admissions. 6 min. 51 sec. transcript available.