Archive for the 'Television' Category

Shakopee bar owner prevails in bout against UFC

August 17, 2012

A federal judge ruled this week that a Shakopee bar owner could not be personally liable for allegedly showing an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout in his establishment.

The fight, between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Keith Jardine, took place back in 2009, but it took until this past Tuesday for the personal-liability issue to work its way through federal court.

Judge Richard H. Kyle ruled that the pay-per-view broadcast’s owner, Joe Hand Promotions, Inc., had not demonstrated that there was “no distinction” between the corporate entity of Kelley’s Bar and the entity’s owner.

Score one for the little guy.  And it’s no small thing.  As Bloomberg News explains, hundreds of such lawsuits are filed each year:

The companies send investigators into bars and restaurants the night of an event to gather photographic or video evidence that the establishment showed it without paying the fee.

The price for watching a pay-per-view boxing event at home might be $50, while businesses typically pay $1,500 to $3,000 or more depending on the size of the venue, said Joseph Gagliardi, president of J&J Sports Productions Inc., which promotes boxing matches.

Showing a boxing match, soccer game or mixed martial arts event without paying the commercial fee could potentially result in a bar or restaurant owner getting hit with a $260,000 bill.


“Sealed” absentee ballots from 2008 Senate election shielded from public view

November 23, 2011

The Minnesota Supreme Court has rejected a request from several television stations to make public “sealed” absentee ballots  that were never counted during the 2008 Senate election.

KSTP-TV (Channel 5) in the Twin Cities, WDIO-TV (Channel 10) in Duluth, and other Hubbard Broadcasting-owned stations sent letters to each Minnesota county to try to get access to the ballots from the election, which Al Franken won 312 votes.

Ramsey County refused, so the TV stations sued.  The case eventually found its way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which ruled last week that the ballots are to remain sealed from public view.

To reach the ruling, the court took a highly literal interpretation of the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, a law that presumes government data are public subject to numerous exceptions.  Among those exceptions are “sealed absentee ballots prior to opening by an election judge.”

The TV stations argued that such a ruling would constitute a “simplistically literal” interpretation of the Data Practices Act, which is aimed toward making data public and not private.  However, as frequently occurs in cases of this type, the supreme court essentially threw the issue toward the legislature, which enacted the law in the first place.  If the legislature wants to change the law, it can.

Had the ballots been made public, it certainly is possible that Norm Coleman and not Al Franken could have emerged as the “real” winner.  As it stands, Minnesotans are left to guess.


DIRECTV sues operators of Princeton business

November 1, 2011

DIRECTV filed a federal lawsuit in Duluth on Monday alleging that the operators of the Hi-Way Inn in Princeton, Minn. used a satellite-TV account for commercial purposes even though the account was intended only for residential use.

The lawsuit seeks statutory damages up to $100,000.  The lawsuit also asks that the federal court enjoin the alleged illegal use of the TV programming at the motel.

Joe Buck plagiarized, but did he violate dad’s “copyright” (theoretically speaking)?

October 28, 2011

Pretend for a moment Major League Baseball didn’t own the copyright to World Series broadcasts. Did Joe Buck violate his dad’s “copyright” last night by plagiarizing the famous Minnesota Twins “we’ll see you tomorrow night” call from 1991’s famous Game 6?

Whether it was a tribute to dad or a lapse in creativity, last night’s plagiarism was glaring.  (Compare the 1991 call here with the 2011 call here.)

Son did nothing to add to dad’s creativity — a requirement for there not to be copyright infringement.  It sort of reminds me of Vanilla Ice ripping of Queen and David Bowie’s baseline from “Under Pressure,” a copyright case that ended in a big settlement.

It’s all theoretical, of course, given that MLB can’t sue itself.  And it was a spur-of-the-moment thing.  But still, c’mon Joe, add some value to your dad’s Minnesota Twins call.


Minnesota Election Law, Meet First Amendment

September 30, 2008

Big Media filed a big federal lawsuit against the State of Minnesota yesterday challenging a Minnesota law that prohibits anyone other than voters and election officials from being within 100 feet of a building where voting is taking place.  The law was changed in April so that the 100-foot buffer zone is to be measured from the building’s door, not from the room where the balloting is actually taking place.

The change, according to ABC News, the Associated Presss, CNN, CBS, FOX, and NBC, violates the First Amendment because it prevents Big Media from exercising its constitutional right to perform exit polls by asking Minnesotans who they just voted for and then reporting the results before the votes are actually counted.

Hmm.  This is a tough one for me.  I agree that anyone, Big Media included, should generally have the right to ask questions and then tell someone the answers.  I also agree that elections are a Big Deal, particularly THIS YEAR, and that any act that might dissuade any voter from casting any ballot is to be forbidden.

The State of Minnesota has not had opportunity to file a response, but when it does, I wonder whether the Attorney General’s Office will dig up recollections of 2000, when famously inaccurate exit polls led some in the media to call the State of Florida for Gore, then for Bush, then for “too close to call.”

As luck would have it, I was on the Big Media front lines that night, squirming through my shift as front-page news editor at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  The AP had called the presidential race for Bush, and we had a page ready to go with “BUSH WINS” streamed across the top.  Then, at the last second, around 1:15 in the morning as I recall, the AP sent a bulletin stating that the exit polls had been wrong, and that the race was too close to call. 

So I changed our headline on the fly and averted disaster.  The Star Tribune, though, did not, and alas, a few thousand papers escaped the building with “BUSH WINS” across the top.  One of them landed on my doorstep!

I do not pretend to have the right answer to this one.  Thankfully, a federal judge will, and soon.

Be Patient and Read the Fine Print

August 23, 2008

Invasion of privacy cases rarely succeed in Minnesota.  A decision from the state Court of Appeals this week underscored that fact.

The case, Anderson v. Mayo Clinic, involved a patient who sued Minnesota’s most-famous medical facility as well as a television station owned by Fargo-based Forum Communications.  Apparently, Mayo videotaped the patient’s surgical procedure and the videotape aired on the news.  Perhaps understandably, Ms. Anderson sued for invasion of privacy.  Problem was, she had signed a one-page form giving the clinic permission to release “photographs, audiotapes, and/or films” of her procedure to any news outlet so Mayo could “disseminate health information to the general public.”

A trial court in Moorhead let the case go forward, but on Tuesday the Court of Appeals ordered its dismissal and rejected the idea that Mayo acted with any fraud.  Wrote the court:  “Consent is an absolute defense to an invasion-of-privacy claim.”

Invasion of privacy is something easy to feel but nearly impossible to sue over.  This is particularly true in Minnesota, where for decades the Supreme Court refused to even recognize invasion of privacy as a cause of action.  Eventually, in 1998, after photos of two young women showering together during their Mexico vacation somehow made their way from a Wal-Mart photo lab into the northwestern Minnesota populace, the Minnesota Supreme Court made Minnesota the 48th state to recognize the cause of action.  (Case here.)

So read the fine print.  And get a digital camera.