Monday, December 22, 2014 12:32:12 AM

Advertising

Does a newspaper have the right to accept or refuse any or all advertising?

A newspaper has the full authority to accept or reject any advertisement within its sole discretion. The only exception to this is the circumstance in which a newspaper has entered into a contract with an advertiser to run advertisements. A newspaper also has the responsibility to screen letters to the editor for libelous statements.

Does a newspaper have the right to accept or refuse a letter to the editor?

So long as the proposed letter to the editor is non-libelous, a newspaper has the full authority to accept or reject any letter to the editor.

Can an individual advertise that he is interested in talking with anyone who has used painter John Doe, that she is looking for other children of Susie Jones or print the terms of a will?

So long as an advertisement is not libelous of an individual, your paper may accept it. In the first example – a customer looking for fellow customers – there is no direct implication, and therefore the advertisement probably is acceptable. The painter would have quite a long row to hoe in order to claim that the advertisement disparaged him in his business. Of course, he would need to satisfy all the other requirements of libel in order to have a claim. Likewise, a child seeking other children of a particular person does not in any way defame the parent. Wills, like other judicial records, are public records, and therefore a newspaper does not face any liability in printing its terms.

What restrictions are there on advertising alcohol?

The regulations relating to alcohol advertising are peculiar. An advertiser may state the price of liquor or the brand, but not both. Therefore, an ad could say “$3.00 Cosmopolitans” or “Grand Marnier,” but not “$3.00 Tanqueray Martinis.” An advertiser can state the brand and price: “$1.50 Coors Light.”

What information can a newspaper use from an Internet web site?

Although information on the Internet is more accessible to copy than information printed on paper, it is not necessarily in the public domain. “Traditional” copyright rules apply to the Internet, and therefore, a distinction must be made between facts, which cannot be copyrighted, and format, which can. For example, if I learn about a street parade while reading a newspaper on the web, I can pass that information along in my newspaper. However, if I see an article about the street parade, I cannot simply download the article and reprint it in my newspaper.

Can a local government charge a newspaper a privilege tax?

North Carolina law provides that any organization that is subject to the recycled newsprint content requirements may not be charged any additional tax by a county or municipal government.

Must newspapers collect sales tax on newspaper sales?

Newspapers need not collect sales tax on their publications sold door-to-door or through street vendors (including newsracks), but tax must be collected for newspapers sold “over-the-counter,” at such places as grocery stores.

What can a newspaper charge for legal advertisements?

A newspaper may charge its standard rates for legal notices and legal advertisements. However, every newspaper must file with the Clerk of Court what those rates are and must update those rates (if they change) annually. This is important, because a legal advertiser may hold you to the rate you have filed with the clerk.

Who owns the copyright in advertisements?

If a newspaper creates an advertisement in-house for a client, the newspaper owns the copyright on that advertisement, and the client may not simply take it to another newspaper to run. However, if a client designs the advertisement or has it created by an ad agency, the client owns the copyright and can run it in any other publication.

What are the parameters of the attorney-client privilege in the context of a public body?

Under the North Carolina Open Meetings and Public Records laws, public bodies enjoy a limited attorney-client privilege. A public body may go into closed session to receive advice from its attorney regarding the handling or settlement of a claim but may not go into closed session simply because an attorney is present. Written communications from an attorney to a public body or members of a public body relating to a claim are exempt from disclosure under the public records law, but communications from the public body to the attorney are not privileged. Note that general communications not relating to a claim are not privileged. Nor are communications from the public attorney to individuals or entities other than the public body.

Can a newspaper accept an advertisement for a lottery that is legal where it is conducted?

Under North Carolina law, newspapers may not accept advertisements for any lottery, even if it is legal where being conducted.

Must newspaper carriers wear seatbelts while delivering papers?

North Carolina law provides an exemption from the seatbelt law, permitting newspaper carriers to not wear seatbelts when they are engaged in the delivery of newspapers.

Someone wants to put an ad in the newspaper offering a $50 reward for anyone with information about a man who wrote bad checks. Is that legal?

There is nothing illegal about a person placing a “wanted” ad in the newspaper. However, because such ads often state or imply that the person who is “wanted” has committed some illegal or disreputable conduct, you should be especially careful in reviewing those ads. For example, if the advertiser claims that he wants to track down someone who wrote bad checks, you should ask to see the checks that were returned for insufficient funds. If the ad references someone who hasn’t kept current on child support, you should require documentation of the delinquency. If the ad inaccurately accuses someone of illegal conduct, the newspaper is potentially liable for the statement. April 2002

January 1999: NCPA Q&A


Can an individual advertise that he is interested in talking with anyone who has used painter John Doe, that she is looking for other children of Susie Jones or print the terms of a will?

So long as an advertisement is not libelous of an individual, your paper may accept it. In the first example – a customer looking for fellow customers – there is no direct implication, and therefore the advertisement probably is acceptable. The painter would have quite a long row to hoe in order to claim that the advertisement disparaged him in his business. Of course, he would need to satisfy all the other requirements of libel in order to have a claim. Likewise, a child seeking other children of a particular person does not in any way defame the parent. Wills, like other judicial records, are public records, and therefore a newspaper does not face any liability in printing its terms.


What restrictions are there on advertising alcohol?

The regulations relating to alcohol advertising are peculiar. An advertiser may state the price of liquor or the brand, but not both. Therefore, an ad could say “$3.00 Cosmopolitans” or “Grand Marnier,” but not “$3.00 Tanqueray Martinis.” An advertiser can state the brand and price: “$1.50 Coors Light.”


Can a newspaper or magazine copyright a recipe?

In a case involving Dannon yogurt’s claim that a competing cook book copied its recipes, the court noted the “recipes have the same titles but display certain differences in the listing of ingredients, directions for preparation, and nutritional information. However, it doesn’t take Julia Child or Jeff Smith to figure out that the PIL recipes will produce substantially the same final products as many of those described in DISCOVER DANNON.” Nonetheless, the court held, “The identification of ingredients necessary for the preparation of each dish is a statement of facts. There is no expressive element in each listing; in other words, the author who wrote down the ingredients for ‘Curried Turkey and Peanut Salad’ was not giving literary expression to his individual creative labors.” For that reason, there is no copyright in a recipe.

One exception to this general rule would arise if the recipe included creative, expressive language. One might imagine an account that included not just a recipe but also memories of one’s great-grandmother making cinnamon buns at Christmas time. That expression could be copyrighted.


What happens when a majority of one public body meets with a minority of another public body?

If a majority of any public body gathers together, the requirements of the Open Meetings Law Apply. Period. The fact that the members are meeting with other public officials does nothing to lessen the requirements on the majority board.


Can a public body vote by written ballot?

A public body may vote by written ballot, but those ballots are public records subject to inspection and copying.