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September 2014

MediaLawLetter August 2014

in this issue

Federal Courts Focus on First Amendment Freedoms for Attorneys’ Web Advertising

By Thomas J. McIntosh Two recent federal court decisions reflect judicial skepticism of state bars’ attempts to further restrict lawyer advertising, and may boost the profession’s efforts to market on the web and through social media. Legal marketing is a frequent target of state regulators seeking to limit speech in the name of consumer protection….


Second Circuit Strongly Affirms Right of Access to Judicial Records

Plus Other Access Developments of Note In a strong affirmation of the right to access judicial records, the Second Circuit ruled there is a First Amendment right to access compliance reports filed in court pursuant to a settlement agreement. United States v. Erie County, No. 13-3653 (2d Cir. August 18, 2014) (Calabresi, Parker, Lynch, JJ.)….


Maryland Media Coalition Wins Attorneys’ Fees Battle

By Cheryl A. Feeley A coalition of media companies—the Carroll County Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and Scripps Media’s WMAR-TV—won another important victory under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA) that will further help prevent officials from using email to conduct government business outside of the sunshine. J. Douglas Howard, et al. v. Christian Alexandersen,…


English High Court Issues First Decision on “Serious Harm” Test in New Defamation Act

Further Case-law Needed to Provide Clarity on the Issue By Elizabeth Morley Earlier this month, judgment was handed down in the High Court case of Cooke and Midland Heart Limited v MGN Limited and Trinity Mirror Midlands Limited [2014] EWHC 2831 (QB). This case was the first to consider what is required to clear the…


The World’s Greatest Detective and The Public Domain: What Remains of Sherlock Holmes?

By Devereux Chatillon When a literary creation, a character in a novel, becomes such a part of a culture that understanding references to that character become a sort of shorthand understood by cultural consumers, it creates dilemmas for creators and lawyers. The most recent case centers around Sherlock Holmes, and, of course, his unavoidable sidekick,…


The Lies of Poets: Copyright in Literary Biopics

When Are “Fictional” Episodes Uncopyrightable “Historical Facts”? By Patrick Kabat It is axiomatic that no author may lay claim to the facts of her life. This is no less true for poets who write autobiographies than public servants who publish memoirs, but the former are particularly prone to make art from life, producing autobiographical works…


California and Maine Courts Foil Candidate’s Attempt to Sue Anonymous Parody Newspaper

Subpoena on ISP Quashed; Attempt to Serve Newspaper’s Counsel Denied By Sigmund D. Schutz The author of a Maine parody newspaper, The Crow’s Nest, recently vindicated a right to anonymous speech concerning a candidate for public office. In addition, the author recovered legal fees, and defeated a creative effort to pursue the litigation by alternate…

Replying to Reader Comments Restarted Statute of Limitations in Online Libel Case

Updates and Rebuttals Constituted an Actionable Republication The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled this month that “updates and rebuttals” to reader comments constituted a new and actionable republication of an online libel. Larue v. Brown, No. 13-0138 (Ariz. App. Aug. 19, 2014) (Gould, Swan, Thompson, JJ.). The court noted that websites constantly change through technical…


NY Daily News Wins Dismissal of Libel and Privacy Claims Over Articles and Tweets

Tweets Were a Fair Index of Linked to Articles News articles about plaintiff’s arrest for Medicaid fraud, as well as tweets sent by the reporter to promote the articles, were all protected by the fair report privilege and/or were substantially true. Doheny v. Daily News LLP, No. 14701/13 (N.Y. Sup. July 8, 2014) (Vaughn, J.)….

Eleventh Circuit: Georgia’s Anti-SLAPP Law Does Not Apply in Federal Court

Verification Requirement Conflicts With FRCP 11 In a published decision, the Eleventh Circuit held that Georgia’s anti-SLAPP statute does not apply in federal court because a verification requirement in the law directly conflicts with a federal procedure rule. Royalty Network v. Harris, No. 13-12460 (11th Cir. July 10, 2014) (Wilson, Jordan, Black, JJ.). The Georgia…


Unflattering Statements in News Article Written Under False Name Are Not Defamatory

In Context, Challenged Statements Would Not Convey a Defamatory Meaning; Not Otherwise Actionable By Jeffrey J. Hunt, David C. Reymann, and Austin J. Riter Earlier this month, the Tenth Circuit affirmed dismissal of defamation claims, related state tort claims, and federal claims for deprivation of constitutional rights and civil conspiracy brought by a former state…

Newspapers Win Summary Judgment in Former Housing Authority Director’s Libel Suit

Linguistics Expert’s Testimony Rejected as Unsound and Unnecessary By Amy Ginensky, Eli Segal, and Kaitlin Gurney On August 1, 2014, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Lisa M. Rau entered two orders in former Philadelphia Housing Authority (“PHA”) Executive Director Carl Greene’s defamation, false light invasion of privacy, and commercial disparagement lawsuit based on nearly…


Jesse Ventura Wins $1.8 Million Jury Verdict Against Estate of “American Sniper” Author

Defamation and Unjust Enrichment Damages Awarded for Bar Fight Report Last month, a federal court jury in St. Paul awarded former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura, $1.8 million in his defamation suit against the estate of Chris Kyle, a former Navy SEAL and author of the best-selling book, “American Sniper,” published in January 2012. Ventura v….


MediaLawLetter August 2014

 Download Publication LIBEL & PRIVACY D. Minn.: Jesse Ventura Wins $1.8 Million Jury Verdict Against Estate of “American Sniper” AuthorDefamation and Unjust Enrichment Damages Awarded for Bar Fight ReportVentura  v. Kyle Pa. Cmm. Pleas: Newspapers Win Summary Judgment in Former Housing Authority Director’s Libel SuitLinguistics Expert’s Testimony Rejected as Unsound and Unnecessary Greene v. Inquirer…