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December 2023

MediaLawLetter November-December 2023

in this issue

Santa’s Gift List for Media Players Naughty & Nice

George Freeman

MLRC Executive Director dons his santa cap to dispense helpful gifts to the major newsmakers of 2023.


Why MLRC Filed an Amicus Brief at the Supreme Court

Jeff Hermes

The NetChoice cases could be as fundamental to the future of online discourse as Times v. Sullivan has been to journalism.

2023 DCS Annual Meeting

A report on the MLRC's annual DCS meeting, held November 9 at the offices of Patterson Belknap in New York City.


Ten Questions to a Media Lawyer

Deanna K. Shullman

Shullman Fugate partner on her beginnings in media law, memorable cases, taste in podcasts, and what people get wrong about Floridians.

Bakersfield Californian v. Superior Court of Kern County: After an Unsuccessful Criminal Subpoena Challenge, Depublication of the Court of Appeal’s Decision is Sought

Sarah E. Burns and Thomas R. Burke

This article summarizes why the unique facts of this case render the opinion an inappropriate precedent that endangers journalists and publishers in future Shield Law situations.

Nevada’s Shield Law Protects Murdered Journalist’s Phone and Computer

Madeleine Coles and Benjamin Lipman

The court also ruled, for the first time, that the reporter’s privilege survives the death of the reporter who gathered the information, finding that to hold otherwise would “be directly contrary to the statute’s purpose.”

Florida Court Throws Out Heart Surgeon’s Defamation Suit Against CNN

Matt Kristoffersen

“It is disingenuous and anomalous on the part of Dr. Black and St. Mary’s to say on the one hand that CNN should be held liable for failing to report risk adjusted data, and on the other hand to deny CNN access to that very same data,” Senior Judge Richard Oftedal wrote in the decision.


Defamation Action Against The National Enquirer Dismissed on Summary Judgment

Robert S. Gutierrez

After more than three years of litigation with three successive law firms, talent manager Michael Sanchez’s defamation action against the National Enquirer was dismissed on summary judgment in August by Judge Dolly Gee. Yet it was not until October that the storied lawsuit was officially over.

Another Unconstitutional Defamation Bill Proposed in Florida

Jim Lake

Proposed 2024 legislation would penalize use of anonymous sources and codify the ability of defamation plaintiffs to sue anywhere in the state for speech posted online.


Journalists’ Civil Rights Claims for Abuses During George Floyd and Daunte Wright Protests Can Go to Trial

Isabella Salomão Nascimento, Pari McGarraugh, and Kevin Riach

All told, the Court’s decision is an unqualified victory for Plaintiffs in this case, their fellow journalist colleagues, and the First Amendment writ large.

Florida Supreme Court Rules Marsy’s Law Does Not Protect Victims’ Names

Daniela Abratt-Cohen and Mark R. Caramanica

The Court’s ruling, which certainly could have taken a narrower path, was not only a victory for police transparency but also a wider victory in beating back overzealous application of Marsy’s Law protections.  

“Unsubstantiated” Complaints About Police Are Not Categorically Exempt from FOIL Disclosure

Alia Smith

New York’s Second Department held that police disciplinary records, formerly shielded from public disclosure under the now-repealed Civil Rights Law Section 50-a, are not categorically exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law’s privacy exemption.

Federal Court Dismisses Copyright Lawsuit Against Friends, Sex and the City, Other Shows

Elizabeth A. McNamara and Meenakshi Krishnan

The Court found that no lay observer could find any substantial similarities between the protectible material of Lee’s work and the four shows.

California Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment for Defendants in Ad Astra Copyright / Idea Theft Case

David Aronoff and Josh Bornstein

Plaintiff alleged that Ad Astra infringed his copyright in and stole ideas from his unproduced spec screenplay entitled Cosmic Force. However, in granting summary judgment the Court ruled that these claims failed to raise genuine issues warranting a trial.

Maine Newspapers, Broadcasters Challenge Law Requiring “Due Diligence” on Advertisers Before Running Political Ads

Sigmund D. Schutz and Alexandra Harriman

A new Maine law that bans political advertising by foreign government-influenced entities has a remarkable feature of special concern for news organizations: it enlists news outlets to enforce the ban.