High Court Takes File-Sharing Case
The Supreme Court will review whether TV and movie producers can hold
file-sharing networks like Grokster and StreamCast Networks liable when
individuals use their software to illegally copy content. The court's
decision to take the case thrilled Hollywood, which was disappointed by a
lower-court ruling that Grokster and StreamCast are not liable for copyright
infringement because they don't maintain centralized indexes of files
available for sharing.
Grokster and StreamCast systems disburse indexes among users'
privately owned computers. The San Francisco federal appeals court ruled in
August that feature was enough to insulate the networks from legal challenges
that got Napster, another peer-to-peer network, in trouble.
“Companies such as Grokster and StreamCast that openly profit from
the misuse of copyrighted materials while attempting to avoid legal liability
should not be protected by the courts,” says Dan Glickman, president of the
Motion Picture Association of America.
Church Challenges Miami Licenses
The United Church of Christ has asked the FCC to yank the licenses of
CBS' WFOR(TV) and NBC's WTVJ(TV), both in Miami, charging that their
respective networks unreasonably refused to air a UCC ad and because they do
not air enough programming reflecting “the full range of religious
NBC says the ad violated its policy on controversial ads, though it
has suggested changes that would pass muster. CBS has a similar policy and also
says its station was never approached to run the ad in question.
In fact, neither station is being targeted for its own actions. The
UCC ad buy—part of a four-year, $30 million campaign— was national. The two
Florida stations were targeted because they are network-owned and because their
license renewals have come due and can be challenged until Jan. 2. UCC Office
of Communication Managing Director Gloria Tristani called it “the luck of the
Taricani Gets Home Detention
Investigative reporter Jim Taricani of NBC Universal-owned WJAR(TV)
Providence, R.I., was sentenced last week to six months of home confinement.
The reporter was convicted by a Rhode Island U.S. District Court of criminal
contempt for refusing to reveal the identity of a source who gave him a FBI
videotape related to an investigation of corruption in Providence's local
government. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Ernest C. Torres cited Taricani's
health and years of good citizenship as mitigating factors. The sentence ends,
almost, a three-year ordeal for Taricani, 55, who faced up to six months in
prison. Taricani still may repay costs of the investigation and trial,
reportedly more than $100,000.
Abernethy Heads Fox Stations
Fox News Channel business chief Jack Abernethy is moving over to run
Fox's station group. As CEO for Fox Television Stations, Abernethy will
oversee Fox's 35 stations. He will report to Lachlan Murdoch, chairman of the
station group and deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. Mark Kranz, VP,
finance, replaces Abernethy as CFO.
CEO Shell Quits TV Guide
Amidst wide speculation that he's heading for Comcast, TV Guide
Gemstar CEO Jeff Shell resigned. He's being replaced by Rich Battista, most
recently executive vice president of business development and strategy for Fox
Entertainment, which owns a controlling stake in TV Guide.
Stewart Show Set
Martha Stewart will get to leave prison for up to 48 hours per week to
work on pretaped segments of a new syndicated lifestyle show planned for a fall
2005 debut. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, NBC Universal and Mark Burnett are
teaming up on the show.