Bulletin photos by Kareya Saleh

‘The landscape has changed, but the laws have not. When you talk about social media, you have to go back to where the laws are -- the privacy, access (laws) -- and apply those to social media.’

-- Peter J. Caruso,
Lawyer,
Caruso & Caruso,
Andover, Mass.

Media lawyers advise:
Know the law, and follow it,
in making difficult decisions

By Siyi Zhao
Bulletin Staff

“If someone gets in a car accident, and you think, ‘We are going to figure out who he or she is. We are going to Facebook. We are going to get his picture and put it in the newspaper.’ Is that OK?”

That is just one of the questions lawyers Peter J. Caruso and Greg Sullivan posed to the audience at a discussion about legal issues and the news. The discussion was held Friday, Feb. 19, at the New England Newspaper and Press Association winter convention.

Caruso, of Caruso & Caruso in Andover, Mass., and Sullivan, of Malloy & Sullivan in Hingham, Mass., presented “New legal issues facing newspapers in a modern era,” sponsored by the New England First Amendment Coalition. About 30 people attended the session.

Caruso and Sullivan are veteran lawyers, each with 38 years of experience in First Amendment and media law.

“The landscape has changed, but the laws have not,” Caruso said. “When you talk about social media, you have to go back to where the laws are -- the privacy, access (laws) -- and apply those to social media.”

Caruso discussed dealing with corrections of factual errors. Editors and legal counsel should be involved in deciding how to handle corrections rather than just deleting mistakes, he said.

Caruso said newspapers should give credit to photographers whose photos they are taking from social media. He said newspapers should have policies about taking photos from social media.

Newspapers should ask for permission to use photographs from people’s social media, Caruso said. If not, newspapers are violating copyright law.

Sullivan and Caruso also discussed how newspapers should deal with requests from people who have had their legal cases reported about online and who ask the newspaper to remove a story or stories about the case from the Web.

Sullivan said he advises newspapers not to change history.

He also talked about publishing detailed information about a person’s private life or embarrassing facts about people.

“Every case turns on its own a set of facts …,” he said. “Sufficiently private and intimate disclosure would be shocking. Newsworthiness is the defense.”

Sullivan reminded the journalists present of their rights under the First Amendment and advised them to know the public record laws in their state.

“We own the courthouse. We pay for that courthouse …,” Sullivan said. “Remember, we are the people. We are the government. The chief of police, the judge, the custodian of records are our agents and servants working for us.”

Greg Sullivan, at left, and Peter Caruso discussed applying the law to news decisions with their audience of about 30 people at a session on 'New legal issues facing newspapers in a modern era.'

‘We own the courthouse. We pay for that courthouse … Remember, we are the people. We are the government. The chief of police, the judge, the custodian of records are our agents and servants working for us.’

-- Greg Sullivan,
Lawyer,
Malloy & Sullivan,
Hingham, Mass
.


POSTED 3/17/16


 



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