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Bollywood filmmaker challenges censoring of drug-abuse film
Legal Interview | 2016/06/09 09:01
A Bollywood film producer took his row with India's censor board to a court Wednesday, challenging dozens of cuts and changes to a film that depicts the menace of drug abuse in the northern state of Punjab.

Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalini said in a newspaper interview that the movie wrongly depicts 70 percent of people of the state consuming drugs and defaming them. He told reporters that the censor board has approved the movie for screening in theaters with the cuts ordered.

He accused producer Anurag Kashyap of whipping up a controversy to create interest in his film. Compared to Hollywood, movie norms in India are extremely strict. Censorship authorities often order filmmakers — both Indian and foreign — to chop scenes deemed offensive. Films with graphic content can be barred completely.

Last year, India's censor authorities ordered that kissing scenes in the James Bond movie, "Spectre," be shortened before it was released in the country.

Kashyap asked the Mumbai High Court to overrule the cuts ordered by the censor board. The court is expected to take up the petition later Wednesday. It could reject the matter or order reconsideration.

Kashyap said the censor board chief Nihalini demanded 89 cuts to the film and even asked him to drop the name of the state from the title, "Udta Punjab," or "Flying Punjab."

Bollywood producers and directors rallied behind Kashyap in his fight with the censor board. "The job of the censor board is to certify films and not suggest cuts."




High court rejects Google's appeal in class action lawsuit
Legal Interview | 2016/06/06 23:52
The Supreme Court won't hear an appeal from Google over a class action lawsuit filed by advertisers who claim the internet company displayed their ads on "low quality" web sites.
 
The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that said the lawsuit representing hundreds of thousands of advertisers using Google's AdWords program could go forward.

Google argued that a federal appeals court in San Francisco should not have approved the class action because damages must be calculated individually for each company advertiser. The appeals court rejected that argument and approved use of a formula that would calculate harm based on the average advertiser's experience.

Google runs what is by far the world's largest digital ad network. It generated $67 billion in revenue last year.



Swedish court upholds arrest warrant for Julian Assange
Legal Interview | 2016/05/26 23:29
A Swedish court on Wednesday rejected a request to overturn the arrest warrant of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange because there were no new circumstances to consider.

The Stockholm District Court said it made the decision because Assange is still wanted for questioning in a case of suspected rape and that "there is still a risk that he will depart or in some other way evade prosecution or penalty."

The court said it saw no reason to hold another detention hearing saying he would remain "detained in absentia."

Thomas Olsson, Assange's lawyer in Sweden, says he would appeal the decision because "the passivity of the prosecutor had delayed the investigation in an unacceptable" way.

"The prosecutor ought to have arranged for an interview with Mr. Assange at a far earlier stage and she hasn't presented any reasons for not arranging an interview," he told The Associated Press.

Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, is wanted for questioning by Swedish police over rape allegations stemming from his visit to the country in 2010. He denies all the accusations against him made by two women.

He has refused to go back to Sweden for fear of being extradited to the United States because of an investigation into WikiLeaks' dissemination of hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents. Last year, a U.S. federal court confirmed there are "active and ongoing" attempts to prosecute him and WikiLeaks in an investigation involving espionage, conspiracy, and computer fraud.




Maryland high court issues opinion in Gray case
Legal Interview | 2016/05/21 23:30
Maryland's highest court has released an opinion explaining its recent decision to force an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray to testify against his colleagues.

The Maryland Court of Appeals issued its opinion Friday. Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbara writes that compelling Officer William Porter to testify while he awaits retrial is not a violation of his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. The judge says there are ways to ensure that the testimony, which is protected by immunity, doesn't make it into his retrial. Porter's trial ended in a hung jury in December.

Gray died April 19, 2015, a week after his neck was broken in a police van. Six officers were charged in his death. One of them, Officer Edward Nero, is currently on trial.


Tribunal: India, Italy should agree on Italian marine's bail
Legal Interview | 2016/05/05 23:11
India and Italy should work toward an agreement to allow an Italian marine to return home while an arbitration process continues in the fatally shootings of two Indian fishermen in 2012, a tribunal said Tuesday.

The two countries should present their arguments over relaxing the marine's bail conditions to India's Supreme Court, the tribunal in The Hague said.

The case against Salvatore Girone and another Italian marine, Massimiliano Latorre, has strained relations between the two countries, which disagree on the facts of the case and who has jurisdiction. Italy has also complained bitterly about the fact that, in four years, India has never formally charged the two with a crime.

An arbitration tribunal is hearing the dispute over jurisdiction, and in the ruling announced Tuesday said the two countries should approach India's Supreme Court about changing Girone's bail terms to allow him to return to Italy. Latorre has been in his home country since September 2014 on medical treatment after suffering a stroke in India.

Both India and Italy welcomed the tribunal's ruling, which had been shared with officials from the two countries on Monday. India was happy that the ruling confirmed its jurisdiction to decide bail, while Italy found relief in the possibility of Girone's return.

"We see the tribunal's order not just as a recognition of India's consistent positions and key arguments but also as an affirmation of the authority of the Supreme Court of India," Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, speaking Tuesday in Parliament on behalf of the foreign affairs minister.

In Rome, the defense minister expressed confidence that Italy would be proven right through the arbitration process.



Court records: Apple's help sought in another iPhone case
Legal Interview | 2016/02/27 11:09
A federal magistrate in Chicago last November ordered Apple to help federal prosecutors access data on an iPhone in a personal bankruptcy and passport fraud case, one of more than a dozen cases around the country similar to the legal battle over the telephone of one of the San Bernardino shooting suspects.

Court records show U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon filed a November 2015 motion saying law enforcement needed Apple's help to bypass the passcode to search, extract and copy data from an iPhone 5S owned by Pethinaidu and Parameswari Veluchamy, the Chicago Tribune reported.

An affidavit filed Nov. 13 said text messages, phone contacts and digital photos might help confirm wrongdoing. It also said data on the phone "may also provide relevant insight into the cellphone owner's state of mind as it relates to the offense under investigation."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland's order said Apple should provide authorities "reasonable technical assistance to enable law enforcement agents to obtain access to unencrypted data" She added Apple "may provide a copy of the encrypted data to law enforcement, but Apple is not required to attempt to decrypt, or otherwise enable law enforcement's attempts to access any encrypted data."



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