Media & Communications Law

1st Circuit Mulls Plan to Webcast Hearing in RIAA Music Downloading Case

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Does webcasting court proceedings violate the traditional rule against cameras in the courtroom? And, if so, should the traditional rule be relaxed?

That is the issue that the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is now expected to decide on an expedited basis, after a U.S. District Court judge said she would allow the groundbreaking Internet coverage in a scheduled April 24 hearing, according to the Boston Globe.

Whether the planned webcast violates the jurisdiction’s no-cameras rule is the latest hard-fought issue in a contentious case brought by the Recording Industry Association of America against graduate student Joel Tenenbaum concerning Internet music downloads. It was argued before an appellate panel yesterday by Charles Nesson, a Harvard University law professor who is representing Tenenbaum and wants the U.S. District Court hearing coverage, and RIAA counsel Daniel Cloherty, who is seeking an appellate ruling blocking the planned webcast.

Meanwhile, the newspaper notes, the 1st Circuit is planning to post on its own website an audiotape of yesterday’s oral arguments on the issue.

“The court of appeals providing a webcast of an oral argument about whether the district court may allow a webcast gives new meaning to the word ‘irony’,” says Ben Sheffner, a Los Angeles copyright lawyer. Sheffner follows the case on his Copyrights & Campaigns blog.

Related coverage: “Harvard Prof Defends Controversial Tactics in Music Downloading Case”

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