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September 2021

MediaLawLetter September 2021

8th Circuit ruling in Devin Nunes defamation suit v. Ryan Lizza; Illinois Court Upholds Summary Judgment in Favor of Crain’s Chicago Business Against Attention-Seeking Tech CEO; Landmark Defamation Decision in Australia Says You Are Liable for the Content Section; VA Conference Wrap-Up and Tributes to Kurt Wimmer and Lee Levine; and more.
in this issue

At Long Last: A Successful In-Person Virginia Conference

George Freeman

If the operative quote of the last 20 months was “You have to unmute yourself,” the most oft spoken words at the Conference were, “This is so much better than Zoom.”


Eighth Circuit: Post-Complaint Hyperlink to Unchanged Story Constitutes a Republication, May Show Actual Malice

Mike Nepple

A federal court partially reinstated Devin Nunes’s defamation lawsuit over an Esquire article, determining that some libel-by-implication claims were actionable, and that a post-publication tweet, after the reporter had received Nunes’s denial, could evidence actual malice.


Illinois Court Upholds Summary Judgment in Favor of Crain’s Chicago Business Against Attention-Seeking Tech CEO

Steven Mandell and Brian Saucier

The court entered summary judgment in favor of the defendants, finding that Joseph Fox was a limited purpose public figure who failed to introduce any evidence of actual malice, that the statements in the article were substantially true, and that one of the statements was not actionable under the Illinois innocent construction rule.


Florida Court Applies Fair Report Privilege to Toss Former State Investigator’s Libel Suit Against Local Station

Karen Williams Kammer

The court entered final summary judgment in favor of the station and reporter Bob Norman, finding, among other things, that what they had reported was true in all material respects.

Media Clients Exonerated in Maine Libel Case

A federal judge sided with Maine ‘s two largest newspapers in a libel lawsuit filed four years ago by a former VA doctor.


Illinois Court Sends Windy City Rehab Defamation Claims to California

Steven Mandell and Brian Saucier

Although upholding the lower court’s decision, the Illinois Appellate Court arguably crafted a new framework to determine whether a forum selection clause applied to tort claims.


Chief Judge Rejects Government’s Security Argument in Request for Capitol Riot Videos

Lauren Russell, Maxwell S. Mishkin and Charles D. Tobin

A coalition of 16 news media organizations has now litigated the release of more than 100 exhibits of video evidence submitted in the prosecutions of the participants in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.


Utah Supreme Court Gives Victory to Journalist Seeking Access to Records of Closed Criminal Investigation

Jeffrey J. Hunt, David C. Reymann, and Jeremy M. Brodis

The Court held that the right of judicial appeal of such decisions under the Government Records Access and Management Act (“GRAMA”) rests only with the “political subdivision” or the “requester.” 

Home Renovation Showdown: Summary Judgment for Discovery in Actress’s Copyright Claim

Daniel Kaufmann and Austin M. Hagood

This opinion is significant among Eleventh Circuit case law because it discusses in detail the issues of access, substantial similarity, and independent creation despite finding that each issue separately afforded grounds for summary judgment.

Think Twice Before Recording that Zoom: Court Finds No First Amendment Right to Record Live-Streamed Court Proceedings

Rian C. Dawson

The question before the Court was whether Somberg, an attorney, was entitled under the First Amendment to obtain photo-audio-video records of courtroom proceedings streamed outside the courtroom.

All Animals Are Equal: Eighth Circuit Reverses Dismissal of First Amendment Challenge to Arkansas Ag-Gag Law

Mike Nepple

In Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Vaught,the court reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging an Arkansas “ag-gag” law, which allows commercial facilities to sue parties for conducting undercover investigations into farm animal welfare and recover up to $5,000 per day in damages.


Landmark Defamation Decision in Australia Says You Are Liable for the Comment Section

Peter Bartlett and Tess McGuire

In a decision with far-reaching ramifications for social media engagement in Australia, the country's top court ruled that media companies may be liable for allegedly defamatory comments left by readers on their Facebook posts.

Remarks of Barbara Wall Presenting MLRC’s First Amendment Leadership Award to Lee Levine

Barbara Wall

An address honoring the recently retired attorney on the final day of MLRC’s 2021 Media Law Conference in Virginia.


Remarks of Jim McLaughlin Presenting MLRC’s First Amendment Leadership Award to Kurt Wimmer

Jim McLaughlin

An address honoring the late Kurt Wimmer, longtime media attorney and former MLRC board member, at the bi-annual Media Law Conference in Virginia.