Skip to main content
March 2024

MediaLawLetter March 2024

in this issue

Happy Slam, Happy Conference

George Freeman

Executive director on MLRC's dynamic inaugural conference in Sydney.

Jury Awards $25M in Damages, Including $20M in Punitive Damages, for The Oklahoman’s Misattribution of Racial Slur

Michael Norwick

Actual malice finding and massive punitive award comes notwithstanding the Gannett-owned newspaper’s correction of the error within two and a half hours.

Massachusetts High Court: Motive is Irrelevant Under Anti-SLAPP Law

Jeffrey J. Pyle

In Bristol Asphalt v. Rochester Bituminous Products, the court overturned a controversial 2017 decision that required evaluation of the SLAPP filer’s “primary motivating goal” for bringing suit. The court also held that appellate review of anti-SLAPP decisions will henceforth be de novo, not for abuse of discretion.

Prosecutor’s Defamation Suit SLAPPed On Appeal

Cam Ruk

The Supreme Court of Texas granted a newspaper’s anti-SLAPP motion, dismissing a state prosecutor’s claim that he was defamed in an article discussing a wrongful murder conviction.

Broadcaster Wins Summary Judgment and Attorneys’ Fees Under New York’s Expanded Anti-SLAPP Statute

Jacquelyn Schell and Chad Bowman

The news reports about sexual assault claims against the Catholic Church were protected by the fair report privilege and plaintiff failed to adduce any evidence of gross irresponsibility.

Missouri Legislature Considers Anti-SLAPP Bill

Jean Maneke

There are at least two other bills pending in the Missouri legislature containing nearly identical anti-SLAPP language, one before the House and one before the Senate, but neither of those bills has been set for a committee hearing yet and it gets more and more unlikely that they will move quickly once spring break is reached.

D.C. Court Affirms Anti-SLAPP Dismissal, and Attorneys’ Fees, in Case About Newsroom Manager’s Workplace Conduct

Alia Smith

The D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a pair of lawsuits, under the D.C. Anti-SLAPP Act, alleging claims of defamation, employment discrimination, false light, and tortious interference arising from expressions critical of a newsroom manager’s conduct at public radio station WAMU. This is the first case counsel is aware of extending the D.C. statute to an employment discrimination claim.

Calling Someone Racist Not Defamatory

Michael S. Anderson

In affirming dismissal, the Court of Appeals held that the characterization of a particular statement as “racial” or “racist” constitutes non-actionable opinion protected by the First Amendment.

RFK, Jr. Loses In New Hampshire

Jack Greiner

Kennedy's effort to have that court exercise jurisdiction over his defamation suit failed out of the gate.


Anti-SLAPP Developments in the UK and Europe and What It’s Like Being Slapped in Greece

David Hooper

There are things to learn from the markers set out by the EU and Council of Europe as to the identifying features of SLAPPs and how to produce a draft law acceptable to a wide spectrum of differing approaches to anti-SLAPP law.

The Supreme Court Hears the NetChoice Cases

Jeff Hermes

Whatever happens here, it seems unlikely that we will see a straight thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the constitutionality of the state laws.

Fourth Circuit Rules Against News Org’s Use of Ted Nugent Photograph

Jamie Ehrlich and Cynthia A. Gierhart

The Fourth Circuit ruled that a news organization’s use of a photograph of musician Ted Nugent did not constitute fair use, siding with the photographer who argued that the news organization did not alter or add any new expression required to overcome the requirements for proper attribution.

Supreme Court, Second Circuit Consider Copyright Infringement Statute of Limitation Implications

Gillian Vernick

Neither case squarely presented the question of when a copyright claim ‘accrues,’ understood by many federal circuits as when the copyright owner first “discovers” the allegedly infringing use. However, the challenges that both cases raise about the discovery rule’s application may hint at its potential impermanence.