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June 2023

MediaLawLetter May 2023

in this issue

Thrilled to Bits: MLRC Digital Conference A Resounding Success

George Freeman

We had about 150 attendees — about a pre-pandemic crowd — and everyone I spoke to felt it was truly engaging and worthwhile.


Ten Questions to a Media Lawyer

Matthew Schafer

Paramount lawyer on his start in the business, the best career advice he was ever given, AI, recent reading and more.

Florida Appellate Court Orders Public Release of State Grand Jury Materials from Failed Jeffrey Epstein Prosecution

Nina D. Boyajian and Layal L. Bishara

The Court of Appeal held that courts have inherent authority to order the disclosure of grand jury materials, “despite the traditional rule of [grand jury] secrecy.”

Court Dismisses Trump’s Tortious Interference Claim Against The New York Times

Samantha C. Hamilton

Judge Reed’s decision is especially important for reporters who have sources with NDAs.

Virginia Federal Court Grants Gannett’s Motion to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit Brought by Prominent Anti-Vaxxer and Covid Critic

Michael J. Grygiel

The threshold dismissal was particularly welcome — and appropriate — because the Complaint targeted the newspaper’s reporting on a newsworthy community event implicating vitally important public health issues.


California Court Vacates Congresswoman’s Anti-SLAPP Win Against Political Foe

Matthew Cate

A California court revived a defamation claim against U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters in May, holding that her 2020 GOP opponent provided sufficient evidence that she acted with actual malice in making allegedly false statements about his military record.

Virginia Court Dismisses Homeowners’ Case Over B-Roll Footage in Jan. 6 News Story

Hilary Oran

Though courts rarely find that a party has been fraudulently joined, the court did so in this instance.


Connecticut Supreme Court Affirms Right of Immediate Appeal of Anti-SLAPP Decisions

Alexa Millinger

Connecticut joins 16 states in holding that anti-SLAPP motions to dismiss may be immediately appealed rather than waiting for the conclusion of the case.

Anti-SLAPP Bill Advances in New Jersey

Bruce Rosen

This is the first time that an anti-SLAPP measure has been considered by committees in both houses of the NJ Legislature.


A Texas-Sized Battle to Protect Citizens Rights to Speak Freely

Laura Lee Prather and Reid Pillifant

The quiet end for SB 896 came after a noisy lobbying effort by media, advocacy, consumer, and business groups to kill the bill.

Proposed Florida Defamation Legislation

Sarah Papadelias and Rachel Fugate

One proposal that was introduced during the session was an effort to overhaul defamation law in Florida by making it “easier” to sue media outlets in Florida.


Court Dismissed Defamation Case Arising from Environmental Advocacy Group’s Campaign to Protect Canadian Forests

Chelsea Kelly and Laura Handman

After seven years of litigation, court ruled that defendants had not acted with actual malice and dismissed the case in full.

Ohio Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Police Chief’s Defamation Claims Linked to True Crime Podcast

Kevin T. Shook

The court of appeals affirmed that plaintiff lacked evidence of actual malice and also found certain statements were not actionable under Ohio’s innocent construction rule.


“Metabirkins” NFT Trial Tests Multiple Legal Theories

Toby Butterfield and Stephanie Smith

Hermes International sought legal remedies against Los Angeles artist Mason Rothschild for his creation and sale of NFTs, without obtaining Hermes’ authorization, depicting digital images of revised versions of Hermes’ iconic “Birkin” handbag.

The Supreme Court’s Next Target: Social Media

Clay Calvert

In late April, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases affecting citizens’ ability to sue government officials who block them on social media. When the court tackles O’Connor-Ratcliff v. Garnier and Lindke v. Freed (likely this fall), it should embrace a rule that enhances, not constrains, the First Amendment right to engage with and criticize officeholders on Twitter and Facebook.

A Brief Note Regarding the Recent AI Debacle in Federal Court

Jeff Hermes

An attorney’s recent debacle with AI was based on a basic and very common misunderstanding of what a tool like ChatGPT, powered by a large language model, is and does. This article attempts to clear things up.

Ninth Circuit Holds Senator Warren’s Letter to Amazon Was Protected as Persuasive Speech

Margaret N. Strouse

Although Sen. Warren used “strong words,” her word choice and tone were a persuasive “call to action” consistent with elected officials’ right to “forcefully criticize” other speakers.