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2021 Media Law Conference

Date: Sept 29 - Oct 1, 2021
Location : Leesburg, VA

The biennial Media Law Conference is the most substantive and effective conference for experienced media defense lawyers. The conference focuses on the practical aspects of media law and litigation, with a mix of plenary and boutique sessions on a wide variety of topics.

Wednesday September 29, 2021

Registration Opens at Lansdowne Resort Hotel

Program: Why Doesn’t the Public Trust the Media? A New Survey Suggests It’s Because They Don’t Understand Journalists’ Mission

With recently appointed Washington Post Executive Editor Sally Buzbee; Tom Rosenstiel, American Press Institute; Bruce Sanford, Baker & Hostetler; Maribel Perez Wadsworth, President News, Gannett and Publisher of USA TODAY; and Erik Wemple, Washington Post media critic. Moderator: Barbara Wall, former acting CEO and GC, Gannett Co.


Pre-Publication & Pre-Broadcast Review (repeated 2x)
Group discussion of a news article and video for libel, privacy, and other legal problems.
Chairs: Mary Kate Tischler, WarnerMedia; Kay Murray, First Look Institute; Fabio Bertoni, The New Yorker; Robert Bertsche, Klaris Law

Digital Media (repeated 2x)
Section 230 reform proposals; Trump’s social media lawsuits; state social media regulations; the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in Van Buren; and more.
Chairs: Megan Gray, DuckDuckGo; Jeff Hermes, MLRC; Jennifer Dukarski, Butzel Long; Ari Holtzblatt, Wilmer Hale

Newsgathering (repeated 2x)
Access to courts and information during the pandemic; cameras in the courts after the Chauvin trial; covering protests; obtaining information about police misconduct; newsgathering and NDAs.
Chairs: Marc Fuller, Vinson & Elkins; Carol LoCicero, Thomas & LoCicero; Deanna Shullman, Shullman & Fugate; Leita Walker, Ballard Spahr

Hot Issues in Photography
Linking and embedding photos; visual journalists and the right to record; is the new Copyright Small Claims Court a game changer?
Chairs: Mickey H. Osterreicher, NPPA

Hot topics in FOIA: access to police body cam videos; Mueller investigation records; public officials’ emails; and more.
Chairs: Matt Topic, Loevy & Loevy; Katie Townsend, RCFP

Opening Reception

Sponsored by Microsoft

Gala Dinner and Program on the Attack of the Supreme Court on Times v. Sullivan

A panel discussion about whether Justice Thomas’ and Gorsuch’s dissents are legally sound, if the votes are there to overturn Sullivan, what might replace it, what we should do about the situation, and whether celebrities should have to meet the same high standards as public officials.
With Prof. RonNell Andersen, U. of Utah Law School; Tom Hentoff, Williams & Connolly; Prof. David Logan, Roger Williams School of Law; Elizabeth McNamara, Davis Wright Tremaine; Prof. Jonathan Turley, George Washington Law School. Moderator: Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog


8:15-10:15am (program starts at 9am)
Breakfast with Program: The 50th Anniversary of the Pentagon Papers

Featuring New York Times journalists who worked on the project: Fox Butterfield, Hedrick Smith, Linda Amster, Janny Scott.
Sponsored by Shullman Fugate


Libel Developments (presented 2x)
Iqbal and pleading actual malice; updates on Cosby and #MeToo libel cases; Justice Gorsuch’s dissent; and more.
Chairs: Leah Montesano, Discovery; Matt Schaefer, CBSViacom; Matthew Leish, Miller Korzenik; Terence Keegan, Miller Korzenik

Ethics (repeated 2x)
Hot issues in ethics for media lawyers.
Chairs: Theresa House, Arnold & Porter; Ashley Messenger, NPR; Thomas Williams, Haynes & Boone; Andrew Pauwels, Honigman

Entertainment (repeated 2x)
Discussion of an entertainment hypothetical that raises raising topical legal issues.
Chairs: Collin Peng Sue, Netflix; Anna Kadyshevich, HBO; Carolyn Forrest, Tubi; Alan Friedman, Fox Rothschild

Music Copyright 101
Understanding copyrights in composition and sound recordings; performance and mechanical royalties; compulsory and sync licensing; and fair use in the music context.
Chair: Scott Sholder, Cowan DeBaets

Trial Techniques
A workshop in libel trial strategies and presentations you can use.
Chair: Chip Babcock, Jackson Walker


Fair Use in Copyright (repeated 2x)
Making sense of fair use after Warhol and Oracle v. Google
Chairs: Tenaya Rodewald, Sheppard Mullin; A.J. Thomas, Jenner & Block; Ben Lipman, Las Vegas Review-Journal; Christine Walz, Holland & Knight

FCC: Media Regulation in the Biden Era
What will a Biden FCC mean for the broadcasters, social media platforms; and big tech?
Chairs: Kathleen Kirby, Wiley Rein; Mark Prak, Brooks Pierce

Fair Report & Neutral Reportage
Tactics and strategies to use fair report privilege and convince courts to apply neutral report privilege
Chairs: Kate Bolger, Davis Wright Tremaine; Stephanie Abrutyn

Subpoenas, Shield Laws & the DOJ
The latest on the DOJ’s new guidelines on seizure of reporters’ material; the impact of leak investigations on the press; shield laws in the states
Chairs: Karen Kaiser, Associated Press; David Vigilante, CNN

Prepublication & Prebroadcast Review
See above

Lunch and Journalism Jeopardy

Sponsored by Jenner & Block


Anti-SLAPP Litigation and Legislation
The New York and Washington SLAPP laws; practical litigation advice; status of anti-SLAPP law in federal court.
Chairs: Bruce Johnson, Davis Wright Tremaine; Laura Prather, Haynes & Boone

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Media Lawyers
Workshop and discussion on how to promote full and equal participation.
Chair: Michael Goettig, Lisa Dayan, Tiffani Lambie, Davis Wright Tremaine

Digital Media Law
See above

See above

See above

Recreation Time

Enjoy Lansdowne’s running and bike paths, tennis courts, golf course, pool and spa.

Next Generation Happy Hour

Drinks and networking for members of MLRC’s Next Gen committee.

London Conference 2022 Open Planning Meeting

Dinner (on your own)

Free time to dine and network with clients and friends. Click for list of restaurants and bars in Leesburg. If you have no plans, there will be sign-up sheets at the conference registration table to join MLRC Board Members and Staff for dinner in the hotel.

After-Dinner Reception / Wine Tasting in the hotel lobby

Sponsored by Mutual Insurance


Breakfast and Discussion on Disinformation and Social Media Moderation
A discussion with tech journalist Anna Edgerton of Bloomberg on the current climate in Washington around disinformation, Section 230, and regulation of social media platforms.


Advertising & Commercial Speech
Developments in laws and regulations on endorsements and influencer advertising; privacy laws and advertising.
Chairs: Faiza Javaid, G/O Media; Jim Dudukovich, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner

Right of Publicity and Privacy Developments
Right of Publicity and emotional distress in docudramas and satire; impact of New York’s new RoP law and other legislative developments; and more.
Chairs: Ben Sheffner, Motion Picture Association; Jacquelyn Schell, Ballard Spahr

Entertainment Law
See above

Fair Use in Copyright
See above

Libel Developments
See above

Lunch with Program: The Dominion and Smartmatic Libel Cases v. Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, et al.

How will the defenses of republication, neutral reportage, fair report & actual malice work?
With: Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon; Lee Levine; Tom Clare, Clare Locke; Professor Mary-Rose Papandrea. Moderator: Dave Heller, MLRC.

First Amendment Leadership Award Presented to Lee Levine and Kurt Wimmer (posthumously)


MLRC will apply for Conference CLE credit to cover most U.S. state jurisdictions of conference delegates. Any questions should be addressed to

Certificates of Attendance

You will receive a general or state-specific Certificate of Attendance, generally within 30 days of the Conference.

Financial Assistance Policy

The MLRC Media Law Conference is a biennial legal conference that provides continuing legal education credit at a reasonable cost to members. In cases of demonstrated need we offer full scholarships and/or 50% reductions in the program fee.

  • Preference is given to member lawyers working in the non-profit media law and policy sector.
  • Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and requests are processed in the order they are received.
  • Requests for fee waivers will not be accepted during the conference.

To apply send an email to, stating your interest in the Conference and explanation of need. The factors to be considered will include current employment status, annual income, and whether and how long the attorney has been a member of MLRC. You will be contacted with a decision; and all requests will remain confidential.

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