We’ve written extensively about the FCC’s proposals to turn back the hands of time, and return to the regulatory scheme that existed prior to the early 1980s by mandating that broadcasters serve their local communities – in a manner dictated by the FCC.  In the 1980s, the FCC decided that it did not need to micromanage

Website operators planning to allow visitors to post their own "user generated content" can, for the most part, take solace that they will not be held liable for third-party posts if they meet certain criteria.  The Communications Decency Act provides protection against liability for torts (including libel, slander and other forms of defamation) for website operators for third-party content posted on their site.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides protection against copyright infringement claims for the user-generated content, if the site owner observes certain "safe harbor" provisions set out by the law.  The requirements for protection under these statutes, and other cautions for website operators, are set out in detail in our firm’s First Amendment Law Letter, which can be found here.

 As detailed in the Law Letter, the Communications Decency Act has been very broadly applied to protect the operator of a website from liability for the content of the postings of third parties.  Only recently have courts begun to chip away at those protections, finding liability in cases where it appeared that the website operator in effect asked for the offending content – as in a case where the owner of a roommate-finder site gave users a questionnaire that specifically prompted them to indicate a racial preference for a roommate – something which offends the Fair Housing Act.  However, as set forth in the Law Letter, absent such a specific prompt for offending information, the protections afforded by this statute still appear quite broad.


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We’ve recently written much about Internet radio, digital radio, digital television and all sorts of new technologies to electronically deliver media content.  But the grandfather of all electronic media – AM radio – still provides significant service.  A recent Petition for Rulemaking suggests certain technical changes to increase the service provided by these stations. In particular, the proposed changes would

In the broadcast world, if you stick around long enough, what was once big and then faded away will no doubt come around once again.  Whether its the resurrection of prime time games shows that faded in the 50s to become big again today, or the regulatory landscape – it all comes around again.  In comments made to an oversight hearing of the US House of Representatives yesterday, Chairman Martin stated that there is an item circulating through the FCC proposing to require that broadcasters file in their license renewal applications more detailed information about the types of public interest programming they provide.   Until the mid-1980s, broadcasters had to specify the percentage of their programming that was comprised of news, public affairs and "other" public interest programming, as well as the number of public service announcements that the station broadcast.  These specific requirements disappeared in the "deregulation" of the 1980s, but from the statements made yesterday, they may now be making a return if Chairman Martin and the Democratic Commissioners can agree on a set of rules to be imposed on broadcasters.

We’ve written about various proposals to require specific, quantifiable public interest obligations of broadcasters in the context of the recent digital radio order.  We also wrote about the long-outstanding proceeding to quantify public interest obligations of television broadcasters that was mentioned in a recent decision denying a license renewal challenge (and implying that a decision was coming soon).  Whether the Chairman’s mention at yesterday’s hearing of the upcoming "item" was a reference to these two proceedings, or to some entirely new effort to re-regulate broadcasters, remains to be seen.  But the "post-card" renewal that was adopted in the 1980s, which has continued to grow in size and complexity over the intervening years, may well grow significantly in the near future.


Continue Reading Detailed License Renewal Requirements to Return?