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June 2022

MediaLawLetter May 2022

in this issue

On Leakers and Lakers: Reflections on Two Recent MLRC Zoom Sessions

George Freeman

MLRC's executive director reflects on tthe recent SCOTUS leak, and a retraction demand sent by Jerry West to the producers of HBO's "Winning Time."

Los Angeles Jury Sides with Kardashian/Jenner Family in Lawsuit Brought by Reality-TV Personality Blac Chyna  

Rochelle Wilcox and Sam Cate-Gumpert

The trial focused on two issues – whether it was substantially true that Chyna had assaulted Rob in December 2016, and whether the Defendants’ statements to the E! network were the proximate cause of its decision to not exercise its option for a second season.


Trump’s Use of Phrases Like “Kung Flu” and “China Virus” to Describe Covid-19 Is Not Defamatory

Alexa Millinger

The court viewed Trump’s statements as referring to all Asian-Americans with no specific reference to any member of the plaintiff organization that would support a group libel doctrine theory.


Washington Federal Court SLAPPs Project Veritas Lawsuit

Bruce E.H. Johnson

In May 2022, not surprisingly, given Washington’s pioneering role, Judge Thomas S. Zilly, a federal judge in Seattle, became the first judge to grant a UPEPA motion for expedited relief and dismissal under the state’s new anti-SLAPP law.

Florida Court’s Split on Appealability of Anti-SLAPP Denials

Minch Minchin

A recent decision from Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal has teed up for the state Supreme Court the issue of whether a trial court’s denial of an anti-SLAPP motion is immediately appealable.

Texas Lacks Jurisdiction for Defamation Suit Over Docudrama

Cameron Stracher and Sara Tesoriero

Location, location, location.  The real estate axiom has never been more relevant to defamation cases in light of the hodge-podge of state anti-SLAPP statutes, and federal courts’ interpretation of those laws.

Section 230 Does Not Apply to Retweet Because Author Said He “Vouch[ed] for” the Retweeted Article

Sara Benson & Cindy Gierhart

The Court held that Section 230 “may provide immunity for someone who merely shares a link on Twitter” but “it does not immunize someone for making additional remarks that are allegedly defamatory.”

Parody Play “Vape” Receives Positive Review From SDNY

Judith B. Bass

The Court found that Vape constituted a fair use of Grease. In addition, the Court rejected Defendants’ claim that Plaintiff had infringed on the Grease trademark in its use of the mark in the opening credits.

Second Circuit Affirms That Screenshot of Photograph Is Fair Use

Eleanor M. Lackman and Lindsay R. Edelstein

The court affirmed that Mic’s use of a composite screenshot from a New York Post article to report, criticize, and comment on the article, its subject, and the resulting backlash, was a fair use.

Supreme Court Clarifies What It Takes to Be Content Based, But Questions Remain  

Tobin Raju

The United States Supreme Court recently clarified an often dispositive issue in First Amendment cases—whether a regulation is content based.


The Intercept Fights for Public Records in North Dakota

Victoria Noble

While this decision was an indelible win for government transparency, The Intercept’s ongoing, costly fight to access the records at issue should serve as a cautionary tale to news organizations considering bringing similar cases.

Florida Court Rejects Bid to Conceal Records of Deceased Toddler  

Daniela Abratt

After the troubling death of 22-month-old Rashid Bryant, a coalition of media companies and access advocates sued DCF when the agency refused to release its case file on the toddler.

California “Public Right to Know” Bill Would Increase Access to Settlement Docs  

Tracy Rane

The bill creates a presumption that no court order may conceal information about a defective product or an environmental hazard that poses a danger to public health or public safety unless the court finds that the public interest in disclosure is clearly outweighed by a specific and substantial need for secrecy.


Northern District of California Dismisses Case Against Facebook and Twitter

Allyson Veile and Maggie Strouse

The decision joins the growing collection of case law rejecting First Amendment claims against social media companies for exercising control over the content that appears on their platforms.