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DCS Annual Meeting Reviews Accomplishments and Plans for 2019

The annual meeting of the MLRC Defense Counsel Section was held on Thursday, November 8th at Carmine's Restaurant on West 44th Street in New York City.

DCS President Jack Greiner led the meeting. The first matter of business was the election of a new executive committee member. Rachel Matteo-Boehm of Bryan Cave in San Francisco was elected DCS Treasurer for 2019. The other members of the 2019 DCS Executive Committee are: President Jay Ward Brown; Vice President Robert Balin; and Secretary Robin Luce Herrmann.

Jack will continue to serve as President Emeritus during the coming year. Jack thanked outgoing President Emeritus Laura Prather for her years of service and leadership on the DCS Executive Committee.

A ministerial amendment to the DCS By-Laws was adopted to conform the length of terms of DCS Executive Committee members to the current practice of one year in each position (a total of 5 years). The old version called for ExCom members to serve 2 years in each position (a total of 10 years).

George Freeman gave the Executive Director's report on MLRC's projects and plans, followed by reports from Committee Chairs on Committee accomplishments and plans for 2019.

COMMITTEE REPORTS

Advertising and Commercial Speech Committee

Co-Chairs: Brendan Healey and Terri Seligman
Vice-Chair: Robin Luce-Herrmann

In 2018, we continued to focus on developing the committee as a practice resource and forum for exchanging knowledge among MLRC members who advise clients on advertising and commercial speech issues. We used committee meetings in 2018 to host substantive presentations by members and outside speakers on current developments and issues of concern to advertising law practitioners. Presenters and topics were as follows: Daniel Goldberg of Frankfurt Kurnit spoke on GDPR and its upcoming implementation; Bobby Baker from the Federal Communications Commission on FCC regulations and broadcast political advertising; and Christy Burrow from Cooley on state laws concerning digital political advertising. We also hope to have a presentation in November or December on the Supreme Court's decision in the Murphy case and its implications for the advertising of sports betting.

In 2019, we intend to continue to keep our members abreast of new legal and regulatory developments relating to social media and online advertising. We hope to have presentations every other month or at least every quarter. We have made progress on our update to the "Checklist on Advertising Content." There are actually two existing checklists, the "Advertising Clearance Checklist" and the "Checklist on Advertising Content," and we are working on combining them into one updated checklist. The update would focus on advertising of marijuana (and related services and products), e-cigarettes, guns, hard liquor, sports gambling (including daily fantasy games), pharmaceutical drugs from other countries, as well as native advertising and business issues such as rate cards. Our committee continues to stay nimble and, as quickly as technology is changing and creating new legal issues, our committee follows topics as they develop and attempts to find speakers at the core of these issues to talk about them.

Anti-SLAPP Task Force

Chair: Bruce Johnson, Laura Prather

The MLRC SLAPP committee, co-chaired by Laura Prather and Bruce Johnson, meets bimonthly and focuses its attention on recent SLAPP rulings, the progress of new anti-SLAPP bills in state legislatures without strong SLAPP legislation, possible model SLAPP statutes, and advice and counsel on securing federal anti-SLAPP protections.

California Chapter

Co-Chairs: Jeff Glasser, Sarah Cronin, Tami Kameda-Sims

The MLRC California Chapter engaged in vibrant discussions this year on (1) right of publicity and false light claims arising out of docudramas; (2) whether embedding third-party content in a tweet constitutes copyright infringement, twitter is a public forum, and calling a company a copyright infringer and adult content distributor constitutes trade libel; and (3) when use of a trademark in a marketing campaign is trademark infringement and recent changes in California's labor and employment law and the California Supreme Court decision's potential effects on television and film production. While the California Chapter meets in-person for each of these discussions, members of the MLRC are welcome to participate by telephone.

The Chapter's first meeting, held on April 25 at Kelley Drye's Century City offices, looked at the recent Olivia de Havilland v. FX Networks, LLC, et al. decision, in which the California Court of Appeal overturned the trial court's order that had allowed the plaintiff's right of publicity and false light claims to proceed based on FX's portrayal of her in the docudrama television series Feud: Bette and Joan. The panel also discussed the Ramsey v. CBS case pending in Michigan, where the brother of JonBenét Ramsey brought a defamation claim against CBS arguing that the television series The Case of: JonBenét Ramsey falsely conveyed to millions of viewers that he had killed his sister. The panel was led by Lou Petrich, partner at Leopold Petrich & Smith, Joel Weiner, partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, and Rochelle Wilcox, partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, who submitted an amicus brief in the Olivia de Havilland case on behalf of A&E Television Networks, the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, First Amendment Coalition and other amici.

The Chapter's second meeting, held on July 11 at Davis Wright Tremaine's offices, delved into embedding content from third-party websites and claims of copyright infringement, a recent decision stating that Twitter is a public forum, and whether calling a company a copyright infringer and adult content distributor constitutes trade libel. Dan Laidman, of Davis Wright Tremaine, discussed the state of the law on embedding content from third-party websites, including the recent SDNY ruling in Goldman v. Breitbart News. Susan Seager, Lecturer in Law at USC Gould School of Law and UC Irvine School of Law, discussed Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, in which the district court granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in part, and held that President Trump cannot block Twitter users because of their political opinions without violating the First Amendment because Twitter is a public forum. Ms. Seager also discussed Prager University v. Google, in which the district court dismissed a complaint against Google that was filed by conservatives who alleged they were being censored on YouTube, on the grounds that YouTube is not a public forum. Finally, Lincoln Bandlow, partner at Fox Rothschild, discussed FilmOn v. Double Verify, in which the California Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's order granting DoubleVerify's anti-SLAPP motion on this basis that its reports were protected speech under the anti-SLAPP statute and that FilmOn had failed to establish a probability of success because the statements that it was a copyright infringer and adult content provider were essentially true.

The Chapter's third meeting, held on October 23 at Katten Muchin Rosenman's Century City offices, focused on the use of trademarks in marketing campaigns and the important developments in California's labor and employment law. David Halberstadter, partner and Deputy General Counsel at Katten Muchin Rosenman, discussed the recent lawsuit brought by Sesame Workshop in the SDNY based on the marketing campaign for the film Happytime Murders, which was directed by the late Jim Henson's son, Brian, and which made prominent use of the tagline "No Sesame. All Street." Sesame Workshop unsuccessfully sought a temporary restraining order, alleging that the use of the tagline "deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with, has allowed, or has even endorsed or produced the movie and tarnishes Sesame's brand." David discussed this recent litigation, as well as the law that generally applies to these types of trademark infringement claims. Michael Gallion, partner at Kelly Drye & Warren and head of the firm's West Coast labor and employment group and David Van Pelt, special counsel at Kelley Dyre & Warren, discussed the recent changes in California labor and employment law and its potential impact on the entertainment industry, including the California Supreme Court's ruling in April in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles, which held that a person is an employee of a company unless they are conducting "work that is outside the usual course" of the company's business.

The fourth meeting will take place in December.

Criminal Law Committee

Co-Chairs: Jacquelyn Schell, Kaitlin Gurney

The newly-formed Criminal Law Committee aims to address the growing intersections between criminal and media law, from protecting journalists and sources from criminal liability to navigating search warrants and government subpoenas. Since its official announcement in May, the committee has held its inaugural webinar, worked with committee members to identify topics of interest, and planned its second webinar, scheduled for November 15, 2018.

At the Kick-Off webinar on June 12, 2018, three experienced panelists offered their advice about training and representing journalists reporting on protests, active crime scenes, and developing emergency situations. More than 100 participants tuned in as Drew Shenkman, senior counsel for CNN, Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, and Richard Zack, former Assistant U.S. Attorney, now with Pepper Hamilton, offered practical guidance on preparing reporters to avoid conflicts with police and best practices for lawyers in the event of arrest. (The webinar is available on the Pepper Hamilton website at http://www.pepperlaw.com/events/what-to-do-when-your-reporter-is-arrested-at-the-scene-2018-06-12/.)

Our next webinar, on November 15, 2018, will focus on safety and security in local newsrooms and television stations. Featuring Lucy Dalglish, Dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, David Giles, Deputy General Counsel of The E.W. Scripps Company, and Dennis Burke, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, now with Ballard Spahr, this panel will discuss developing safety protocols, assessing online threats, and re-evaluating concerns posed by pro se libel plaintiffs and other media gadflies in the wake of recent events.

The committee expects to hold quarterly, topic-focused calls and may expand into publications or additional projects as the Committee develops. Likely topics include: (1) the Espionage Act and other threats to sources and leaks; (2) responding to search warrants, subpoenas, and other government information demands; and (3) FOSTA and criminal carve-outs to the CDA.

Employment Law Committee

Co-Chairs: Thomas Wilson and Tanya Menton

The Employment Committee monitors the development of state laws concerning non-compete agreements and broadcasting companies. What started as an East Coast issue has spread west with new laws in states such as Utah. Immigration continues to be a big issue for our members so we have had multiple discussions and internal communications about foreign journalist entering the U.S. and the ability to have U.S. based journalist enter other countries to work as journalist. Media employers continue to look for creative ways to involve their employees and the Committee is there with them to address in meetings and communications concepts such as workplace councils for employees and how those efforts work under U.S. law and in particular the National Labor Relations Act. We work with other MLRC Committees and did have a joint meeting and issued joint communications with the Litigation Committee on effective ways to handle e-discovery in litigation, sharing information about software/methods protocols used that help reduce costs. Finally, but inevitably, we address #MeToo issues related to releases, confidentiality agreements, arbitration agreements and employment agreements. No doubt, that topic will carry us through into the new year.

Entertainment Law Committee

Co-Chairs: Lincoln Bandlow, Jessica Davidovitch

The mission of the Entertainment Law Committee is to keep its members apprised of key cases and the latest legal developments in the world of entertainment. The Committee meets via a group conference call that is usually held on the first Wednesday of every month. In preparation for each meeting, the Committee Chairs review a variety of publications and assemble approximately 10 items of interest. About a week ahead of each meeting, the Chairs circulate a list of these items to the Committee, from which members can select which items they would like to volunteer to present. A final meeting agenda with links and attachments is distributed 3-5 days before the call. Agenda items are selected with an eye toward currency, significance, balance and entertainment value.

Even when volunteers are not available to cover all of the topics compiled for each call, the compilation and circulation of those matters in the monthly pre-call email is a helpful resource for members of the subcommittee to review in their own time.

Some of the specific topics discussed this past year included:

  • Feud Fight Meets First Right: Court Of Appeals Tosses Out de Havilland's Claims Against Docudrama.
  • Gamers Know Lacey Jonas, They Like Lacey Jonas, They Have Played As Lacey Jonas – Lindsay Lohan, You're No Lacey Jonas: Court Tosses ROP Claim Against Grand Theft Auto.
  • Take Two Tattoo Tussle Not Terminated: Judge Allows Copyright Lawsuit Over LeBron James Tattoo In Videogame To Continue.
  • Google Ain't Government: Lawsuit Accusing YouTube of Censoring Conservatives Tossed Out.
  • 9th Circuit Confirms That Thicke And Farrell Got To Give It Up: Jury Verdict in Blurred Lines Case Upheld.
  • To Rip Off A Mockingbird?: Sorkin Sued For Adaptation Of Classic.
  • Will Dual Survivor Contestant's Lawsuit Survive His Release?: Show Participant Sues For Defamation And Tries To Escape Release.
  • TV Eyes Get Poked: 2nd Circuit Rules For Fox Against TV Tracking Service.
  • More Cohen Results In Moore V. Cohen: Roy Moore Sues Sacha Baron Cohen Over Embarrassing Appearance On "Who is America?" See
  • Hand Shake Do Not Deals Make: Court Finds in Dispute Between Johnny Depp and Manager that Oral Contract Not Binding.
  • Living On The Copyright/Lanham Act Edge: Can Trump Be Sued For Playing Aerosmith Music At Rallies?
  • Pre-1972 Recordings Lawsuit Stays On the Turntable: 9th Circuit Revises Lawsuit Against CBS.
  • Fox Beats Seth Rich Case: Court Says Action Was End Run Around Clear "You Can't Defame The Dead" Precedent.
  • Why Wasn't Anyone Thrown Out Of The Kavanaugh Hearings For Screaming Hysterically "This Guy Hates Anti-SLAPP Laws Being Applied in Federal Courts
  • (Rom Bar-Nissim): A Troll Storm Is Coming ... And Gets You Sued: Gersh v. Anglin
  • Court Chips Off The Old Twitter Block: Trump's Blocking Of Twitter Users Violates First Amendment.
  • Will California Supreme Court DoubleVerify Trial Court and Court of Appeal Anti-SLAPP Victories?: FilmOn v. DoubleVerify Goes Up To High Court On Commercial Speech And Public Interest Issues.
  • The Cos and Effect In Opinion Jurisprudence: Cosby Lawyers Seek Supreme Court Review of Janice Dickinson Case.
  • Can You Tell Me How To Get, How To Get To ... The Court So We Can Sue For Trademark Infringement?: Sesame Street Trademark Owners Not Fond of Murdering Muppets.
  • Who Prevails In An Appeal On Trademarks That Are Key – Spongebob Squarepants – Protecting of Rights to Krusty Krab are We – Spongebob Squarepants.
  • Oh, The Attorneys' Fees You Will Seek: Star Trek/Dr. Seuss Mash Up Not An Infringement. See
  • The Mark Of Z – For Z You In Court: Zorro Licensor Faces Copyright Infringement Trial.

We also monitor previously discussed items and provide updates as warranted.

In 2019, we would like to shift the focus of our monthly calls to involve more discussion of the specific matters that practitioners are actively working on, in addition to the summaries of significant new decisions and events.

Federal Affairs Committee

Co-Chairs: Leita Walker and Shaina Jones Ward

Due to a hopelessly deadlocked Congress and the potential for overlapping and cumulative efforts among the various committees, members of the Federal Affairs Committee have found their many talents a bit under-utilized in 2018. MLRC is exploring whether it may be time to sunset this committee, which of course could always re-emerge, zombie like, if/and or when some important federal issue not already covered by another committee gains traction.

Insurance Committee

Co-Chairs: Betsy Koch, Eric Brass, Jim Borelli

The purpose of the Insurance Committee is to bring together in-house counsel, defense attorneys, and insurance professionals to consider issues and developments of importance in media defense and insurance that will result in greater knowledge and understanding of the nuts and bolts of insurance coverage, the media insurance marketplace, and the risk management challenges faced by media clients today.

In our first full year in existence, we have grown to more than 40 members. Highlights of the year including the following:

Evynne Grover of QBE, on behalf of the Committee, authored an article titled "The 'Pink Slime' Insurance Coverage Dispute Shines a Spotlight on Media Liability Insurance," which appeared in the December 2017 issue of the MediaLawLetter.

On behalf of the Committee, Terrence Keegan prepared an article, "This Means War: Dispute Over Scope of Insurance Policy's 'War' Exclusions Rests On 'Layperson' Understanding of Term." The report, which was published in the January 2018 MediaLawLetter, concerns the coverage litigation between Universal Cable Productions (NBC Universal) and Atlantic Specialty Insurance arising out of Atlantic's denial of coverage, based on its policy's war exclusion, for expenses incurred by NBC Universal when it was forced to cease filming in Israel as the result of the conflict with Hammas.

The Committee held a meeting at the Forum on Communications Law 2018 Annual Conference in Napa Valley, CA on March 1. While we had hoped to include remote participants by teleconference, the cost of adding a conferencing phone to the meeting room was prohibitive. Nonetheless, eight members of the Committee attended the meeting in person and engaged in an informal discussion of current issues in media insurance and potential topics for future Committee meetings and articles.

Committee members helped organize, and were the moderator and panelists, in a session of the Media & the Law Seminar in Kansas City, MO in May entitled "Media Insurance 101 – What every lawyer needs to know to defend an insured client, including navigating the tripartite relationship, selection of counsel, settlements."

The Committee held a meeting by teleconference on October 23, in which we tested, for the first time, MLRC's new Chime videoconferencing system to share slide decks. David Hallstrom of Willis Towers Watson and James Shreve of Thompson Coburn led an informative discussion about cyber liability and cyber insurance for media and entertainment companies. The PowerPoints used by the speakers were emailed to all Committee members following the meeting.

Ed Copeland is working on a report about the Media Insurance 101 session, which was published in the November issue of the MediaLawLetter.

Committee members, together with the new ABA Forum Insurance Committee, are developing a program on insurance to be presented at the Forum on Communications Law 2019 Annual Conference.

In the coming year, the Insurance Committee hopes to hold quarterly meetings with presentations on topics such as claim trends, emerging exposures, claims attorneys' role in defense/litigation strategy and reporting requirements, unique insurance coverage needs of particular media business classes, such as film and entertainment, in-house risk management, and/or selection of counsel and insurance company panels. We will also continue publishing articles reporting about developments in media insurance in the MediaLawLetter and elsewhere, and hope to participate in one or more of MLRC's conferences including, but not limited to, the 2019 London Conference.

International Media Law Committee

Co-Chairs: Gillian Phillips and Julie Ford
Vice-Chair: Peter Canfield

Our committee conducts conference calls that focus on a variety of current "hot" topics across the globe. We try to invite a range of external guest speakers – including journalists, regulators, lawyers and professors - to speak on recent media developments in their respective countries.

This year our meetings included a discussion of press issues in Turkey, updates on the state of the law in Canada and Mexico and a session on cross-border vetting and the impact of insult, libel and privacy laws in faraway places. We also had a compelling session on overseas abductions and on lessons learned and best practices around protecting reporters in hostile international environments. From Europe, we had updates on the current state of media law in Germany, the Netherlands and France, including various initiatives on hate speech on the internet and the continuing impact of the right to be forgotten in Europe.

We also feature regular reports and updates on legal and political developments in the UK. Topics this year have included the anticipated effect of Brexit on the media, the General Data Protection Regulation, the Investigatory Powers Act summary section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 to foreign/US media companies and proposed changes to the UK Official Secrets Act.

For 2019, in addition to covering as many national updates as we can co-ordinate, we are thinking about sessions on Asia and reporting on disasters and violence, as well as covering developments in Australia and Ireland.

Internet Law Committee

Co-Chairs Matt Leish & Judy Endejan

The Internet Law Committee interacts primarily through quarterly conference calls. The first for 2018 occurred on March 21. Ken Norwick and Jack Greiner discussed issues associated with embedding, linking etc. of photos plucked from the web. Ken focused on Goldman v. Breitbart, in which he represented the plaintiff, who took an informal photo of Tom Brady and NBA officials and uploaded it to his Snapchat account. From there, the photo made it to Twitter and multiple websites where it was "embedded" but accessible to viewers through a series of instructions, even though the photo was not stored on the sites' servers. Goldman sued for copyright infringement in the United States District Court in New York. Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in Goldman's favor, rejecting the here-to-fore well- accepted "server test" from the Ninth Circuit, finding that embedding violated the "display" rights in the Copyright Act.

The Committee's second call occurred October 3 and examined "Private Censorship of Speech on Websites and Social Media Platforms: old wine in a new bottle or a new brew?"

The topic discussed was platforms for Internet speech, owned by private entities, who have the right to control access and perhaps content. Tom Burke updated the Committee on Hassell v. Bird, a bad decision from the California Court of Appeals reversed by the California Supreme Court in 2018. This case involved an attempt to get Yelp to take down negative content. Yelp decided to allow the negative content to remain on its site, despite court orders and threats of contempt for its refusal to take it down. Section 230 saved the day for Yelp, protecting Yelp's rights. Professor Tamara Piety, a recognized First Amendment academic discussed First Amendment ramifications when site providers decide to take down various speakers, such as Alex Jones and Infowars. Prof. Piety co-wrote an amicus brief in the Gilmore case, in Virginia, where Gilmore sued Jones for the harm he suffered after Gilmore published a photo of the Charlottesville melee in 2017 and Jones accused Gilmore, among other things of being a CIA plant.

The final call for 2018 is scheduled for November 28, 2018 and will explore the efforts of numerous states to enact Net Neutrality legislation following the FCC's decision to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules. The Department of Justice has sued California to enjoin its Net Neutrality legislation that went into effect on September 30. The November call will also feature a discussion of California's recently enacted data privacy law.

In addition to our quarterly calls, in February the Committee published a substantially updated version of the Practically Pocket-Sized Guide to Internet Law, available on the MLRC website. The Guide offers a series of concise articles on a wide-range of Internet law questions that come up in day-to-day media law practice.

The Committee is exploring additional activities for 2019, and it welcomes input from its members and the MLRC membership for ideas for projects related to the Internet.

Litigation Committee

Co-Chairs: James Hemphill, Steve Mandell
Vice-Chair: Thomas Curley

The Litigation Committee has been revitalized with the appointment of a new co-chair and vice chair, and with a very well-received conference call/discussion on e-discovery issues, conducted jointly with the Employment Committee. For the new year, the Litigation Committee plans additional phone meetings and conferences, and is currently working on a joint presentation with the Employment and Newsgathering Committees. The Litigation Committee will be reaching out to other Committees to explore other cooperative projects, and welcomes ideas from any and all DCS members.

Media Copyright and Trademark Committee

Co-Chairs: Scott Sholder, Toby Butterfield, Lauren Fisher

The Media Copyright and Trademark Committee has approximately 50 members. We hold conference calls every 6-8 weeks in which we hear from invited speakers and committee members about recent court decisions, legislative developments and practice pointers. Examples of topics we have addressed in the last year include issues concerning artificial intelligence, copyright and trademark fair use, anti-counterfeiting efforts in particular concerning streaming media, copyright "troll" litigation and recent federal legislative initiatives. Meetings in coming months will likely address recent statute of limitations decisions, copyright cases headed to the Supreme Court, and the interrelationship of IP cases with disputes over the scope of licenses. We regularly welcome new members.

Newsgathering Committee

Co-Chairs: Cynthia Counts and Edward Fenno

The MLRC Newsgathering Committee has been revitalized this year by the addition of Edward Fenno from South Carolina as Co-Chair. While still learning the ropes from veteran Co-Chair Cynthia Counts, Edward has contributed some fresh ideas and strategies for member interaction and events -- leading to some of the most interesting and informative member conference calls in recent years. Edward has also brought energy and enthusiasm to the committee, and helped edit the updated MLRC Model Brief on Newsgathering -- which is now in its final stages before presentation. The committee also added Rachel Matteo-Boehm last month as Vice-Chair, and is looking forward to her new insights and ideas in the upcoming year.

Next Generation Media Lawyers

Co-Chairs: Matthew Schafer, Al-Amyn Sumar, Amy Wolf

The Next Gen committee had an active 2018. We hosted a "mentor call" with Laura Prather where Laura joined via webinar to give advice to committee members about planning their careers and maximizing the experience of being an associate. We also hosted a webinar entitled Journalism 101 that focused on how newsrooms think of their lawyers' role in the reporting process that offered insight from panelists from the reporter, editor and standards perspectives. We also have had two in-person roundtable events where a smaller subsection of the committee gets together to informally discuss current issues in media law, including issues that arise on social media and abroad. The committee also hosted a happy hour at the MLRC conference in Virginia — we added members to the committee and reconnected with fellow members.

Next year, the committee hopes to continue organizing webinars and smaller salon-type gatherings. We anticipate at least some of these events to take place in Philadelphia and/or D.C in an effort to expand the committee's presence and further encourage the next generation of media lawyers to connect, learn from one another and navigate the next steps in their careers.

Pre-Publication/Pre-Broadcast Committee

Co-Chairs: Collin Peng-Sue and Lisa Zycherman
Vice-Chair: Alexia Bedat

Our committee convenes monthly conference calls to engage with speakers on timely information for lawyers who vet. We program a mix of topics to inform our members on cutting edge and topical information, including:

  • An exploration of Virtual Reality ("VR") and its implications for lawyers advising VR content creators, including discussion with USC Professor Robert Hernandez, who addressed what this emerging technology means in the entertainment and journalism spaces and anticipatory issues.
  • A comparative discussion on the similarities and differences between vetting sexual harassment allegations in the UK v. US, with the assistance of Guy Vassall-Adams QC of Matrix Chambers (London).
  • The latest on responding to copyright infringement claims on Youtube and other social media platforms, with an update on the EU Copyright Directive.

We also focus on perennial topics for vetting counsel, including: misappropriation issues addressed in Olivia de Havilland's suit alleging that "Feud: Bette and Joan" sullied and improperly profited off her name; using third-party content in the background of a television series; the variety of state wiretap laws; and maintaining attorney-client privilege during the pre-publication/pre-broadcast review process.

State Legislative Committee

Co-Chairs: Jean Maneke and Steve Zansberg
Vice-Chair: Nikki Moore

The MLRC State Legislative Committee is now in its eight year of existence and continues to grow in membership, breadth, and overall wonderfulness.

The State Legislative Committee includes more than forty-six of the nation's leading government relations attorneys who represent First Amendment interests in thirty-six jurisdictions in the United States. We identify and track legislative trends impacting the media and exchange ideas about ways to most effectively combat legislative attempts to encroach press freedom and government transparency. Some of the areas of legislation we regularly monitor and discuss are: Drone regulation, "ag-gag," anti-SLAPP, open records, open meetings, public notices, right of publicity/survival, and more.

We meet once a month, by teleconference, during the winter and spring legislative sessions, and continue our meetings almost every month over the summer. On our monthly calls, we keep each other informed about what is going on in the various states, and we try to identify emerging trends that we should bring to the attention of MLRC's leadership. Between monthly meetings, we exchange emails with inquiries, draft legislation, and calls to action.

In 2018, our committee prepared three articles published in the MediaLawLetter describing legislative victories in state houses and how the local media representatives "got it done," as well as a recent survey of emerging state legislation. In February 2018, in conjunction with the Federal Affairs and Newsgathering Committees, we co-produced the MLRC Report, "Drones: Regulation and Practices." We also collaborated with Laura Prather and Bruce Johnson, co-chairs of the MLRC's Anti-SLAPP Task Force to begin assembling resources to assist member firms in litigating against constitutional challenges to existing anti-SLAPP laws and arguments in support of application of anti-SLAPP statutes in federal courts.

Our committee is presently working with members of the press in Wyoming who are planning to introduce a bill next month to enact a Press Shield Law in that state (following up on our having assisted the Vermont Press Association, in 2017, to successfully enact a shield law).

In the coming year, we will continue efforts to seek member representation in all 50 states, and to partner with other national organizations who monitor state legislative activities.

We invite anyone with an interest in such topics to join our committee; simply contact one of the three committee chairs to express your interest. Thanks.

 
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