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In Cellphone Wars, Movie Chain Uses a Violator’s Words

Publication Date: 
June 24, 2011
Sarasota Herald Tribune

Executive Director of the Fair Use Project Anthony Falzone spoke with Andrew Adam Newman in this Sarasota Herald Tribune article on whether using an irrate customer's phone call in a public service announcement could be deemed as defamation.

BRANDS increasingly monitor the Internet for negative product reviews, and contact reviewers to remedy complaints, persuading some to revise reviews with higher ratings.

But when Tim League, the chief executive of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, a movie chain based in Austin, received an irate voice mail message from a young woman recently, he did not want to change her opinion.

He wanted to publicize it.


After reviewing the video, Anthony Falzone, an intellectual property lawyer and lecturer at Stanford Law School, concurred. Even if the caller were to come forward now, she could not claim she was defamed, “because defamation must always be based on a false statement of fact” and, “unless they manipulated the recording,” the recording is truthful, Mr. Falzone said.