Conditional Fee Agreements under fire

As Sharon Stone seems set to launch a libel action on a no-win, no-fee basis, MediaBeak asks whether this could prove a case too far for critics of a system that's designed to give the poorer access to justice but is being used by the rich and is overinflating court costs.

Read MediaBeak's full comment on MediaGuardian.co.uk


Mirror off the hook as Blunkett's blonde speaks out

As MediaBeak reported on Monday, a disgruntled David Blunkett said he was going to report the Mirror to the PCC over its story of his relationship with 29 year old Sally Anderson. He was upset by how his own comments turned out in print to reveal his latest 'love interest'.

According to today's Press Gazette Blunkett and the Mirror have kissed and made up - he's no longer going to complain to the PCC while the Mirror has offered to print a 'clarification' in respect of its story - a story + quotes, which MediaBeak notes it still says it stands by 100 per cent - oh the semantics of it all!

Here's MediaBeak's clarification:
Blunkett maintined his relationship was 'platonic'
Sally Anderson describes him as 'passionate' and ditched her boyfriend.

If he wants his private life to be kept out of the spotlight then he might consider finding 'paltonic' friends who have not got boyfriends or husbands. If Sally Anderson's been speaking to the Mail today, what's to stop her dumped boyfriend speaking to the Mirror tomorrow!

Sally Anderson speaks to the Daily Mail
Press Gazette - Mirror appeases Blunkett
MediaBeak - Blunkett blasts Mirror


High stakes if Moss decides to take a gamble on Nine.com deal

Nine.com are keeping relatively quiet about the deal they've supposedly faxed to Kate Moss's agency. Today's New York Daily News is running the story in its Lowdown section and confirms that Nine.com has offered Moss a five year sponsorship deal valued at 5 million dollars.

While Nine.com spokesperson Jack Abrams is keen to see Moss promote his company's online gaming site after a 'real quick focus group' confirmed that it would be good to get Mossy on their posse, the terms of the deal may be as hard to swallow as the rehab regime and 'corporate retreat' they proscribe.

Kate's already thought to be in rehab and after slapping on some of that new Rimmel product - aptly named 'Recovery' - she's more likely to be seen sliding her way onto the catwalk than hiding herself away on a corporate retreat.


Sponsors take gamble on Kate

According to onlinecasinonews.com Kate Moss has been thrown a lifeline by online gaming group Nine.com

The report attributes the following comment to Jack Abrams, Nine.com spokesperson:
“We at Nine.com believe in second chances. The fashion industry is extremely hypocritical; they perpetuate the ideal that all models must be stick thin in order to be successful, yet they act appalled when these pressured models go to extraordinary means to maintain this image. There’s a better way and we’ll help Ms. Moss find it”

MediaBeak is checking this out to verify the story and the deal - more soon.....

Ofcom criticises BBC over 7/7 bombing footage

The latest OFCOM bulletin published today criticises BBC News and News 24 over their coverage of the July 7th London bombings. Among the harrowing news pictures screened on various channels that day, the BBC showed footage of a critically ill man being stretchered into hospital as medics tried to resuscitate him.

While this image had also been used by other broadcasters, the BBC had not properly put it in the context that the severity of the situation demanded. The news anchor had merely tossed over to the pictures with the generic intro 'let's take a look at some of the pictures coming in from the Royal London (hospital)'.

MediaBeak's view:
Its one thing streaming live pictures that contain troubling images but there are two things that need to be remembered (and for which in Mediabeak's view the BBC was rightly rapped):

1: If one has live pictures being fed into a programme that contain graphic images of injury, violence or of a similarly disturbing and personal nature, insofar as one takes the editorial decision not to cut away from them or switch back to the studio or another feed, then one should ensure that the presenter puts them in context in an appropriate and sensitive manner.

2: If one is working with a tape or feed that is 'as live' but not actually streaming live into the programme, then one should edit out graphic images of this nature until they can be properly packaged in context.

Ofcom's decision stated:
"It appeared to us that the pictures were used generically and the commentary did not reflect the seriousness of the images being transmitted. We welcome the BBC’s admission that the images had not been viewed properly, and its acknowledgement that they should not have been put to air in such a manner."

In relation to ITV's news coverage the regulator concluded:
"The script established a clear narrative context and the pictures were sensitively ‘written to’. We considered this was an appropriate treatment of the incident, given the very exceptional events of the day and did not breach the Code."

While Channel 4 who also used the pictures was held not to be n breach of the code:
"The pictures were not used casually and the item was voiced appropriately. The script referred to the timings of the bombings but did not fully reflect the enormity of the images that were being transmitted. Nevertheless, their use was not careless and – on balance – we consider that Channel 4 also had not breached the Programme Code."

Ofcom Complaints Bulletin 26-09-05

Blunkett blasts Mirror over blonde

A stroppy David Blunkett has attacked The Mirror over its front-page story about his 'platonic' relationship with a 29 year-old blonde. Blunkett claims he never made the comments the Mirror attributes to a recorded interview with him and will be refering the matter to the Press Complaints Commission.

Having finally been forced to resign as Home Secretary last year amid allegations of fast-tracking a visa for the nanny of his former mistress Kimberly Quinn, Blunkett has bounced back as Work and Pensions Secretary. He said that his relationship with the blonde trainee opera singer was 'purely platonic' and part of getting on with his life.

He might be dismissing newspaper reports as 'tittle tattle' but obviously takes them seriously enough to complain about them. Only last month he had a run-in with the Evening Standard over an interview it ran that he claimed had not been intended for publication but merely to help a journalism student with her assignment. (see HERE)

The divisions he is suggesting the public make between his private and work life also need to be made by him when giving interviews - let's face it, how many reporters record interviews with no intention of publishing them?



Kate tries to save face as Rimmel reconsiders

According to the Press Association, cosmetics firm Rimmel may not be jumping on the 'let's kick Kate while she's down' bandwagon and has acknowledged the apology she issued through model agency Storm yesterday.

Having been ditched by H&M, Chanel and Burberry, today's response from Coty , which owns the Rimmel brand may offer some respite:
"In light of this statement, and Kate's determination to address these issues, Coty Beauty is currently reviewing its relationship with her and will continue to do so."

Stop this sleazy stitch-up and get on with real news and proper policing

MediaBeak is calling time-out on this story. Its been running a week and the coverage is totally disproportionate to the alleged crimes that have been committed.

It's a disgrace and waste of precious police time that there should be (as the Mirror puts it) 'a swoop on the Mossy posse'.

Faced with the enduring threat of terrorism and increasing racial and social unrest why is it that our top cop, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair considers it necessary to personally launch an investigation into Kate' s coke taking.

Surely he should be more concerned with examining evidence such as the cctv footage released of the July 7th London bombers rehearsing for their atrocity rather than studying the grainy snaps splashed all over the Mirror.

It would seem that Sir Ian has been learning the art of spin from his political namesake Tony. Faced with pressure to resign following the shooting of Charles de Menezes, what better way of taking the heat off yourself than stepping into the week-long news story mauling fragile Mossy. What a great diversion. If he diverts any resource from more serious crime to staking out the fashionistas of Primrose Hill then he should resign.

Meanwhile the media are doing their best to squeeze all they can out of what some believe are the dying embers of Kate's career and the media's attempts at killing it.

Having headed up the offensive, The Mirror kept up its coverage with today's front page proclaiming Kate's apology and then using that as an excuse to print more pictures and rehashed copy.

The News of the World got its angle with its '3 in a bed lesbian orgies' story at the weekend while

The Sun produced its 'exclusive' yesterday claiming 'Kate's on crack'. The paper alleged that 'cocaine Kate' and chums were using the harder and more addictive drug, crack cocaine.

This was met with a firm rebuke from Kate's lawyer Gerrard Tyrrell at Harbottle & Lewis who said his client 'specifically denied' these claims. The paper toned down today's coverage with its witty headline about Kate being a 'snorty girl' .

The Daily Star finally joined in today reminding Kate how all this trouble had not been worth it with its headline about the 16 year old girl Pete is supposed to have dumped her for.

At the rate things are going and with someone, in the form of Kate Moss, having been fired (several times over), it won't be long before someone gets sued (new reality show idea for TV execs - 'the litigator: someone's going to get sued'). Whether it will be The Sun or any of the other tabloids remains to be seen. Kate may have said sorry but she's been cautious in relation to what she's actually said. Her caution has not been met by similar restraint on the part of the media or Sir Ian Blair. To prosecute Kate for coke you need solid evidence. To defend a defamation action you need more than a puff of powder. The contracts she's losing come at a cost and at the end of the day it may not be she who pays the final price.

It may be coincidence that as recently as July the Sunday Mirror was left licking its wounds after being forced to pay substantial libel damages to Mossy over its claims she'd collapsed in a cocaine-fuelled coma. She may do coke but they couldn't substantiate those claims. The Mirror may have been able to recoup some of the costs its sister title was forced to pay by exposing this latest 'cocaine Kate' story but you don't need to be too seasoned a pundit to predict that her career will outlast the currency of this story.

No ball games - court orders tv channel to hand over documents as mega media trial gets underway in Australia

The crowds have been filling Sydney's Federal Court since Seven Network's epic billion dollar legal action kicked off earlier this month. The broadcaster was forced to close its C7 pay-tv sports channel after it failed to win any of the crucial broadcasting rights it needed to be able to cover the country's football and rugby league games.

The company claimed that Rupert Murdoch's company was behind a conspiracy to block C7 by doing deals with other companies and outbidding C7 over broadcast rights in order to ensure a monopoly. Seven has issued proceedings against the 22 different parties it held responsible for the demise of C7 after the loss of rights left it with a gaping hole in its 2000 sports schedule.

The amount of lawyers involved makes for a full court house before any of the estimated fifty witnesses and the press and public squeeze their way in. Seven has hired top UK lawyer Jonathan Sumption QC from Brick Court Chambers to represent it in court.

Over 50,000 documents have so far been uncovered in the pre-trial discovery process and the court ruled yesterday that Seven was obliged to hand over further documents to the 22 parties it is suing. Seven was trying to sit tight on several documents claiming they were covered by professional privilege as they contained advice from its lawyers. The court was not convinced by this claim and ruled that the privilege the company was seeking didn't attach to comminucations 'made for the sole purpose of frustrating the law itself'. In other words, the court is not going to allow the parties to play ball games with the evidence in this trial.


RSF issues Handbook for Bloggers

Reporters sans frontières has issued a new handbook designed to assist bloggers and 'cyber-dissidents'.

The handbook is aimed at those who are seeking to disseminate their news and views in parts of the world where censorship may be making mainstream reporting difficult, dangerous or impossible.

As RSF state on their website: "Bloggers are often the only real journalists in countries where the mainstream media is censored or under pressure. Only they provide independent news, at the risk of displeasing the government and sometimes courting arrest. Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help them, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation."


US News: difficulty in regulating indecency on cable TV

US Federal Communications Commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein has cautioned that attempts by the FCC to regulate indecency on cable TV channels could run into difficulty when challenged in court.

Cable TV companies are facing mounting pressure to control their content and are hoping that technological measures such as channel blocking will suffice as a means of preventing children viewing indecent or other objectionable content.

Critics and campaign groups point out that not all households have or are able to afford the sort of equipment necessary to block content. Meanwhile Congress is considering new legislation that will allow for wider regulation of content on cable TV as well as higher fines for broadcasting indecent material.



US authors throw copyright book at Google's global library bid

As Reuters reports, writers in the US are blocking Google's bid to create an online global library. The Authors Guild and several prominent US authors have launched a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York seeking damages and an injunction for copyright infringement. They claim that Google's copying of extracts from their (and other) works and posting these on the web infringes their rights as authors. Google has teamed up with leading libraries to compile its resource and says it has where possible sought permission from copyright owners. The service does not reproduce entire works but merely provides extracts from them in the manner pictured below.

The company says that the aim of its service is not to make money by infringing copyright, rather it seeks to create an online resource with examples of what is available. If anything, this would provide publicity for the authors.

In copyright terms and to establish infringement, there has to be substantial taking. Whether Google's service does amount to infringement of the actual works remains to be decided but the writers may have some mileage in their claim that they have been deprived of the right to control their work.

This is not the first time Google's attempts at organising the world's information and making it accessible to all have run into difficulty. When Google launched its news aggregating service Google News, several news and information providers complained about the linking and in some cases limited reproduction of their content without consent. The claims came and went but the service survived.

Is Google trying to take over the world or merely stick to the ethos of the web and make information freely available to all? It all comes down to what's 'free' in this context. If Google is making or plans to make large amounts of money by providing links to and extracts from other people's work then there may be an argument and copyright case for making them pay. If the company is being altruistic then copyright holders should show some latitude when it comes to their contribution to knowledge.

Full report from Reuters
Google Print


Proposed TV regulation would inhibit growth and curtail content

A report out today by high-tech industry trade association Intellect in conjunction with the Broadband Stakeholder Group, is heavily critical of the EU's proposed revision of its TV Without Frontiers Directive (TVWF).

The groups see the proposals contained in this and its accompanying Audio Visual Content Directive as being premature, ill-conceived and an attempt to regulate the internet by the back door.

Rapid advances in technology have meant that the original TVWF Directive drawn up in 1989 is in need of a revamp but the EU's current proposals seem more like a set of blanket rules to gain control over the online environment rather than thought through regulations to help shape it and encourage growth.

Antony Walker, Director for the Knowledge Economy at Intellect said;"Our members are seriously concerned that the European Commission's proposals will inhibit growth of the content and new media market in Europe. New audio-visual content services, made possible through innovation in digital technology and the internet, should be given time to evolve and develop rather than being shackled by premature and unnecessary regulation intervention by the EU."

Intellect Press Release HERE
Intellect Response to the TVWF proposals HERE
Broadband Stakeholder Group HERE
European Commission proposal HERE + Audiovisual and Media Policy site HERE

H&M ditches cocaine Kate

Following earliers reports that it would continue to use Kate Moss in its ad campaigns, H&M as today announced she is being ditched. Kate's contrition over her coke snorting was not enough to console company bosses who considered her association with drugs to be inconsistent with the image they wanted for their target market of teenage girls.

Amid reports that she has again split from Pete Doherty, the fallout from their relationship could end up damaging her professional as much as it has done her personal life.

'Cocaine and the Catwalk' The Independent
H&M Press Release on new Stella McCartney range


Sex, drugs and privacy

Managing privacy by press release is proving as effective as protecting it through the courts.

Read MediaBeak's full analysis on MediaGuardian HERE

As "cocaine Kate" jets off to lie low on Ibiza and Reneé Zellweger provides us with an explanation of the term "fraud" we are seeing an interesting development in managing the relationship between celebrities and press when it comes to privacy.

While their professions may have brought them fame as they tread the world's catwalks or red carpets, the attendant media attention has made them into celebrities. It is the subtle distinction between fame and celebrity that turns the attention away from their livelihoods and puts the focus on their lives. They are no longer mere models or actresses but have become celebrities. When it comes to distinctions between their professional and private lives the press no longer have to apply for a pass to gain access to all areas.

With celebrities providing so much to kiss, smoke, snort and tell about, the media are revelling in this self-made market of celebrity sensation. While tabloids are suffering a slump in circulation, celebrity magazines are peddling their pictures and gossip to an expanding market. Defying the sceptics, Heat magazine has survived and recently been joined by Grazia to sit on the shelf of "lifestyle" titles.

The irony is that it is someone else's lifestyle they're selling and we're ultimately paying for. If they cut out the news sections and stuck to celebrity pictures and sport, the tabloids might strike a winning formula. Some might argue that the Daily Star is already experimenting along such lines with its front page offerings to "win a date" with Abi Titmuss.

When it comes to the likes of David Beckham the media can have it both ways with reports on the footballer's home games for Real Madrid resulting in less coverage than alleged away games in his private life.

In the wake of recent court battles such as Naomi Campbell's battle with the Mirror ("cocaine Kate" obviously made for a better headline than "cocaine Naomi" but "cocaine Campbell" might have caught on) or Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas's spat with Hello, there have been no real winners.

The uncertainty of the law on privacy resulted in these cases being shunted between courts where judges gave conflicting opinions as to the law and their rights under it.

The underlying legal principles of balancing the human rights of individuals to privacy against the freedom of the press to publish and expose matters in the public interest are being undermined by the money.

FULL article from MediaGuardian HERE

Kate Moss wins libel damages over 'cocaine coma' story
This is not the first time Kate Moss has been accused of having a penchant for cocaine. Back in July she secured substantial libel damages from the Sunday Mirror over a story that claimed she'd collapsed in a cocaine-fuelled coma in 2001. The story proved unsubstantiated and the paper was forced to pay. Details HERE

Naomi Campbell v Mirror more HERE and HERE
Douglas v Hello more HERE and HERE


Coming up....Cocaine Kate and Zellweger's privacy plea

On MediaBeak this week:

Analysis of how 'Cocaine Kate' is dealing with her own baby shambles and clinging on to sponsorship contracts.....will going into rehab give her the privacy protection Naomi Campbell sought to preserve in her battle against the Mirror? - No. The Mirror is one step ahead this time and is making the story as well as exposing it.

Life imitates 'art' as Renee Zellweger's short-lived marriage ends up as a 'fraud'. As she appeals to the media to respect the privacy of her problem can she really expect that ending her marriage because of fraud while saying that should not provide grounds for thinking less of Kenny Chesney is going to keep the media at bay. No way. As the Daily Express (pictured left) and other media report, she's given statements and there's a story behind the scenes that's waiting to come out...

Full coverage from Monday....


Diaz snapper sent down

As MediaBeak reported in July, John Rutter, the photographer (pictured) accused of trying to blackmail Cameron Diaz over the sale of topless pictures was found guilty of thefty, forgery and perjury.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, the Los Angeles Superior Court rejected Rutter's plea for probation and sent him to jail for 3 years and 8 months. He had faced a maximum of 6 years in jail for his attempts to peddle the pictures of a 19 year old Diaz.

The custodial sentence reflects punishment for his devious attempts at forging Diaz's signature and subsequent lies about it.

More HERE and HERE


CPJ criticises US military over journalist killings

CPJ The Committee to Protect Journalists has slammed the US military for failing to carry out proper investigations into the 13 journalists who have been killed by its forces in Iraq.

According to the CPJ report, a further 40 journalists have been killed while covering the conflict as well as 21 media support staff - two of whom were killed by US troops.

The most recent case highlighted what CPJ denounced as the US military' s indifference to the situation. An investigation into the killing of Reuters soundman, Waleed Khaled (pictured) on 28th August this year has not yet reported its findings but an interim statement by military officials is already smokescreening and states that soldiers had followed "established rules of engagement" and acted in an "appropriate" manner. How they will justify this killing as 'appropriate' remains to be seen.

CPJ full story HERE
CPJ Analysis of journalist killings HERE
For further discussion see MediaBeak's comment on MediaGuardian HERE

Google launches Blog Search tool

Search engine Google - which also supplies the wonderful blogger system that makes this site possible - has just launched its latest tool to help those searching the net.

The beta version of Blog Search allows you to search the rapidly expanding blogosphere to find out the latest news and information being posted on blogs around the world. So if you wanted to find out whether MediaBeak had covered the young farmers' campaign in Bavaria all you have to do is click HERE and enter some key words 'PR campaign Bavaria' and you'll get taken to the article. This is a new and extremely helpful tool - try using it to search for other MediaBeak stories - you may be surprised what you find!


Paper cleared over naming teenage murder suspect

As MediaBeak reported last April, the Edinburgh Evening News and Aberdeen Press and Journal faced prosecution after naming Luke Mitchell who was subsequently found guilty for the murder of Jodi Jones. Mitchell was 15 at the time.

Charges were brought under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act which prevents suspects under the age of 16 being named in relation to "proceedings in a court". As the papers argued (in MediaBeak's view correctly) at the time, this did not apply to the preceding period between arrest and charge. However, the crown office and procurator fiscal formed the view that section 47 of the Criminal Procedure Act should extend to the pre-trial part of proceedings.

At a hearing earlier this year, the Aberdeen Press and Journal was cleared of its charges after the judge ruled that the wording of the Act was 'unambiguous' - the proceedings in question were indeed proceedings IN court and did not extend to police investigations. The Crown appealed but the court upheld the view of the judge that while arrest and charge may be part of the chain of events that result in 'proceedings in a court' they were not themselves such proceedings.

The Evening News was still faced with similar charges and an appearance at Edinburgh's Sheriff Court but the prosecution this week finally saw sense and decided to drop proceedings.

As discussed by MediaBeak last year, had the report contained substantially prejudicial material then there may still have been cause for contempt charges but the article was factual and merely confirmed the name.


Press Freedom under fire as German prosecutors raid magazine

As reported on Spiegel Online, journalists in Germany are voicing concerns over press freedom after public prosecutors raided the offices of political magazine Cicero .

The prosecutors from Potsdam swooped on the magazine's offices with warrants to investigate jouralist Bruno Schirra, Cicero editor Wolfram Weimer and 'an unknown' person. They wouldn't confirm what they are looking for beyond stating that the investigation related to betraying the state. Its thought the background to this came from an article by Schirra in April's edition of the publication where he chronicled the rise of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and made reference to intelligence reports from the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) - Germany's federal criminal police office - that were marked 'for operational use only'. The document contained over 125 pages that formed an assessment that al-Zarquawi was seen as 'a leader of an independent, autonomous terrorist network'.

Why its taken until now for the state to object to what appeared in April is not known and editor Wolfram Weimer is not keen to speculate given he remains unsure of the extent of the charges against him. Meanwhile Schirra received a call on his mobile phone informing him that prosecutors had just entered his Berlin flat through the bathroom window to search it.

The raid has been condemned by senior journalists across the country. Hans Werner Kilz, Editor in Chief of the Süddeutsche Zeitung is quoted as saying 'newsrooms aren't import-export booths for carpet-traders. Criminal investigators haven't lost anything there and should keep out'

A spokesman for German jouralists' union DJV, said that this latest raid pointed to a worrying trend that saw the state increasingly willing to interfere with press freedom and attempting to uncover journalists' sources. Last month the DJV issued a report criticising how a reporter's phone had been tapped.

As in the UK, it appears that the war on terror is seeing is leading to a more subtle form of war being waged on press freedom and journalists' sources. If the journalists can get the sources then surely the intelligence services of the state should be able to do the same. They need to refrain from raiding journalists' laundry baskets to dig up dirt and carry out some clean investigations of their own.

Spiegel report (German) HERE

Society of Environmental Journalists slams Feds for failure to comply with FOI

The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) has said that the obstacles put in the way of the press seeking to report on the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, are but another example of failure on the part of the state to allow access to key information about environmental issues.

In its report: "A Flawed Tool — Environmental Reporters' Experiences With the Freedom of Information Act" Society claims that Federal government is failing to comply with its duty under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and allow access to information and associated data which the public have a right to know about.

More from SEJ HERE
US Dept. Of Justice - FOIA HERE
UK Freedom of Information Act info HERE
UK FOI Act BLOG HERE (MediaBeak recommends for all things to do with UK FOI)

PR campaign shows sexy side to farming in Bavaria

Young farmers in Bavaria have just released a sassy new calendar as part of a PR campaign to boost the image of farming in the Bavarian state of southern Germany.

The campaign follows a the success of a similar campaign by the Austrian farming fraternity (or sisterhood to be precise) that launched in 2001. Amid the scandal and sensation it caused, it rapidly sold out its run of 2000 copies and went on to see sales of 5000 copies for the girls' and 3000 copies for the boy's calendar in the following years.
The Bavarian campaign hopes to achieve similar success following the launch of its calendar 'Bayern Girls - Edition 2006' at a sausage breakfast in Munich's famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall on Wednesday. Beyond the sensation these raunchy posed shots have caused lies a more serious message about the state of farming and the challenges faced by new generations of young farmers.

The Bayern Girls are not the first to undo their buttons to promote their campaign, it was the startling sight of the Women's Institute calendar back in 2000 that started the spectre of these campaign sensations and went on to feature as the basis for the movie Calendar Girls in 2003.

More of the calendar HERE
You can order the calendar HERE


Italian court approves extradition of London bomb suspect

Hamdi Isaac (or Hussain Osman) has failed in his bid to prevent being extradited back to Britain. As previously reported on Mediabeak, he is wanted in connection with the July 21 London bombings and was arrested in Italy after having slipped out of the UK on Eurostar.

Having been appointed a glamorous defence attorney in the form of
Antonietta Sonnessa, he courted media attention by fighting his extradition on the grounds that (among other things) media coverage of him could prejudice his right to a fair trial in the UK. As Mediabeak argued (see MediaGuardian), it seems wrong that the media should be prevented from printing picutres of him while he was, albeit through his attorney, giving press
briefings to the assembled world media in Italy.

Not persuaded by his argument, Italy's top court, the Court of Cassation, has ruled that he shoud be extradited back to Britain. Among other things, this case also put the veracity of the European Arrest Warrant to the test - it works and he has to be brought back to Britain within 10 days.



Media won't be banned from covering carnage of Katrina

Following reports that FEMA - the Federal Emergency Management Agency - was trying to ban the media from showing pictures of dead bodies in the wake of the hurricane Katrina disaster, the agency has stated that it will not try to prevent further press coverage this week.

CNN mounted a legal challenge to the US authorities attempts at censorship and secured a successful outcome at a court hearing on Saturday.

More from CNN HERE
Transcript of CNN lawsuit against FEMA and Michael Brown HERE

New look Guardian launches

The all new Berliner format Guardian launched today. Its not as big as a broadsheet yet not as small as a tabloid. After 18 months and at a cost of 80 million, editor Alan Rusbridger says research has shown this to be the format that's perfectly formed.

More from Media Guardian HERE
Alan Rusbridger - The shape of things to come


Wild Wars - Reformed porn star sues TV channel

German media are adding their colourful coverage to the colourful plight of 34 year old reformed porn star. Michaela Schaffrath, as she is now known, thought that her transition to respectable actress would allow her to leave her thriving porn career behind.

Not so. Her former persona of 'Gina Wild' very much lives on and German erotic TV channel Beate Uhse is running a season of her classic films whose titles, such as 'Maximum Perversion' leave little to the imagination. To advertise the films, the company is running a campaign that uses sexy shots of Gina Wild as she then was.

An enraged Michaela got straight on the phone to her lawyer and is seeking to sue Beate Uhse for using the shots in their campaign thereby creating the impression that the reformed actress Michaela still gets dirty as Gina.

Lawsuit aside it is proving difficult for Michaela to bury her past with illegal downloads of her porn proving vastly more popular than her 2001 autobiography. Not having been one to shun publicity, she also produced her own lingerie and fragrance ranges.

In relation to her lawsuit she could find that Beate Uhse TV boss, Andreas Fischer is right to be relaxed. If she signed away her rights to her porn films and associated publicity shots then she'll have difficulty in preventing their use. Similarly, using earlier photos of her in the context of publicising her films may be less illegal than it is contentious.

An additional problem is the publicity she has now courted with her legal action provides a platform for the media to dig out all those pictures she'd rather were forgotten. (see the links to German media below). With all these pictures enjoying a revival in the public domain, the selection of shots used by Beate Uhse may seem tame and not deserving of legal sanction.

Mediabeak also notes that she's offering that type of picture as mobile phone download on her website HERE so her lawyer has got their work cut out!

Michaela may have to resort to human rights legislation and the German constitution and frame her claim in the context of the right to self-development and personality.

The case does pose an interesting question - what can former porn stars or people with a past they'd prefer to forget do to protect themselves from that past. Where they have been as high profile as 'Gina Wild' then it may be difficult to put the past behind them and equally difficult to persuade a court that the media must shut its book on a persona-based commodity who was paid to bare all.

Full uncut story with links from Bild.de HERE
Focus online with useful links and pictures HERE
Stern.de HERE
Her official website HERE and her cosmetics studio HERE
Beate Uhse corporate news HERE and HERE

Cinderella banned from brothel

The Latvian National Opera LNO has been banned from performing its modern verion of Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Cinderella after complaints from the composer's family.
Having failed to obtain permission from the family or the Prokofiev Archive, the LNO decided it would be fun to set the children's fairytale in a brothel and have Cinderella working as maid to her call-girl step-sisters while the wicked step-mother takes on the role of brothel madam.

The bright burlesque stage show failed to win over the disgruntled Prokofievs who secured a ban after just two performances. (just enough to provide this video clip!)

Permission to use or adapt copyright works needs to be obtained from the copyright owner - or as in this case, their estate. There is scope for some 'interpretation' of an original work but in this case they stuck to the musical score but added a new storyline. So as copyright owners, the family were able to complain that separating the music from its orignal storyline and using it without permission was an infringement that deserved to be banned. They could also suggest that it was a 'derogatory treatment' of the original work.

The ban seems harsh as it effectively allows the use of copyright to trump free artistic expression.

Playbill Arts
View a clip of the stage performance HERE
Music - Prokofiev Cinderella Suites 1-3