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Let the dead stay buried: online archiving does not bring "zombie" defamation claims back to life

(08/03/15 6:00pm)

Two former "American Idol" contestants waited too long to file their defamation suit against the parent company of MTV and VH1, a federal appeals court decides. The ruling is the latest to apply the "single publication rule" to an article continuously available on a news website. The decision should be reassuring to online publishers -- but with some important cautions. 

Snap away: Pennsylvania becomes the seventh state to recognize a right to take smartphone photos of public records

(08/21/15 6:10pm)

A police department in Reserve, Pa., tried to stop a public-records requester from making his own duplicates of government expense-account documents. But the state open-records commission, adding Pennsylvania to a growing list of states, says there's a legal right to take pictures of government documents. 

ESPN's quest to open Notre Dame police records gets a huge assist

(08/15/15 3:29pm)

Indiana's attorney general has thrown the state's influential weight behind a lawsuit seeking access to police records at Notre Dame, whose attorneys claim the private institution is exempt from the state public-records act. Sports network ESPN is trying to make Indiana the third state this year to declare private-college police reports open for public inspection.

Congress' proposed FERPA amendments restrict use of student data for "marketing," while leaving public-records access problems unaddressed

(08/16/15 6:30pm)

Four bills are pending in Congress to tighten access to student data under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. None of the measures appears to worsen journalists' access to public records from schools and colleges, but none addresses the well-documented misuse of FERPA to conceal campus scandals under the guide of "student privacy."