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Kissinger Writes About Risks “Fake News” Poses To Media Companies

The Financial Manager has published an article by LSKS partner Ashley Kissinger about the potential legal issues that media companies and journalists face in the era of “fake news.” The article explains the legal risks associated with reporting on and labeling stories as “fake news,” relying on information that may later turn out to be fabricated, and affiliating with marketing firms using fake content. The article also provides practical advice for minimizing those risks.

Court Dismisses Libel Claim Over Documentary Film

A federal district court in Virginia dismissed a case brought by a gun-rights advocacy group and two of its members over the documentary film Under the Gun. The plaintiffs argued that the film, a two-hour documentary about guns in America in which the two members were interviewed, defamed them. The court, however, held that the challenged scene was not defamatory or false and dismissed the claims against the film’s producer, narrator, and distributor. Defendant Atlas Films, the film’s producer, was represented by Nathan Siegel, Mara Gassmann, and Matt Kelley.

LSKS Honored For Media, IP, And First Amendment Litigation

Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business has recognized LSKS and eleven of the firm’s attorneys in its 2017 rankings. Kate Bolger, Jay Ward Brown, Tom Kelley, Lee Levine, Dave Schulz, Nathan Siegel, and Michael Sullivan were highlighted for being among the top First Amendment litigators in the country and as leading lawyers in their respective cities. Seth Berlin was recognized as a leading Washington, DC media and entertainment counsel. Gayle Sproul was honored for her accomplishments in Pennsylvania and nationally as a First Amendment litigator, and Bob Penchina was noted as a top copyright and trademark attorney in New York. Rachel Strom was also recognized in First Amendment litigation in New York. Click here to read about LSKS’s attorneys and its First Amendment, media, and IP practices in Colorado, DC, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Delaware Court Unseals Records In Corporate Lawsuit

The Delaware Chancery Court unsealed records at the request of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and its reporter Christopher Weaver in a lawsuit filed against Theranos, Inc., a start-up blood-testing company. The records, which included portions of a proposed tender offer and excerpts from more than a dozen deposition transcripts, had been filed under seal at the behest of Theranos as it litigated a motion to block the tender offer from taking effect. The court denied Theranos' motion to keep the records under seal, agreeing with Dow Jones that most of the information should be publicly available in light of the litigation. LSKS attorneys Mike Berry, Paul Safier, and Max Mishkin worked on behalf of Dow Jones.

Berry And Seidlin-Bernstein Teach Internet Law CLE

LSKS attorneys Mike Berry and Lizzie Seidlin-Bernstein presented a session on “Social Media and the First Amendment” as part of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s annual “Internet Law Update” continuing legal education course. Mike and Lizzie spoke about recent litigation involving allegations of online defamation and invasion of privacy, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, anonymous posters, online endorsements and native advertising, and true threats.

Court Dismisses RICO Claims Against Media Defendants

A federal district court judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit that brought wire fraud–based RICO claims against multiple news organizations and individual journalists in connection with their reporting on the 2016 presidential election. In dismissing the complaint for failure to plead a plausible scheme to defraud, the court observed that the political reporting at issue “is at the core of what the First Amendment protects.” LSKS attorneys Kate Bolger, Paul Safier, and Tom Sullivan represented several of the defendants in the case.

CNN Prevails In Privacy Suit

A plaintiff voluntarily withdrew his privacy lawsuit against CNN in Connecticut federal court after the network moved to dismiss the suit. The plaintiff, who survived a gunshot to the face – allegedly by former NFL player Aaron Hernandez – sued CNN for showing an image of him in a hospital bed in a documentary about Hernandez. CNN was represented by LSKS attorneys Cameron Stracher, Chad Bowman, and Shaina Jones Ward.

Sproul Co-Authors Article On Physician Defamation Claims

Communications Lawyer has published an article by LSKS partner Gayle Sproul and Matt Schafer analyzing possible methods for obtaining early dismissals of defamation lawsuits filed by physicians. The article explains how media defendants may ward off such claims by arguing that their reporting involves statements of medical opinion not capable of being proven true or false, and in some cases, by demonstrating the physician is a limited-purpose public figure who must establish actual malice.

Fourth Circuit Affirms Dismissal In False Advertising Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a false advertising claim filed against the national Council of Better Business Bureaus and two BBBs. The appeals court held that the plaintiff – a Washington-area business – failed to adequately allege how it was injured by the Better Business Bureaus’ promotion and advertising of its rating services. LSKS partners Jay Ward Brown and Rachel Strom defended the national Council, the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Washington, Inc., and the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia, Inc.

Berry Speaks On False Light And Implication Claims

LSKS partner Mike Berry and Melissa Melewsky, Media Law Counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, presented a webinar for reporters and editors discussing the law governing claims for false light and defamation by implication. The webinar was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Society of News Editors and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation.

Zansberg Discusses Challenges To Press Freedom In Trump Era

LSKS partner Steve Zansberg presented a program titled “Social Media and Online: Legal Rights and Ethical Wrongs” at the 2017 Annual Convention of the Colorado Press Association. He addressed a variety of ongoing legal issues since the inauguration of President Trump, including libel and privacy law, subpoenas to reporters, leak investigations, and access to records and press briefings.

Strom Moderates Panel On Broadcasters And New Media

LSKS partner Rachel Strom moderated a panel titled “Confront or Conform? Broadcast Deals With New Media,” which was hosted by the Cardozo Entertainment Law Society and the Cardozo Fashion, Arts, Media & Entertainment Law Center. The panel featured in-house counsel from three major networks and addressed the novel legal issues that can arise for broadcasters in the context of new media, including how emerging technologies affect the way lawyers vet content.

Zansberg Addresses “Fake News” Versus Real News

LSKS partner Steve Zansberg participated in a panel discussion titled “The War on Facts and the Facts on Fake News” at a conference on “Reporting in the Age of Alternative Facts,” presented by the University of Colorado’s College of Media, Communication and Information. Steve expanded on the ideas in his recent op-ed on the topic of “fake news.”  

Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Claims Against Newspaper

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against The Durango Herald and its former arts and entertainment editor arising from an email the editor sent to the publicist of a religious-oriented musical group. The appeals court held that the lower court correctly ruled the email was not outrageous as a matter of law, and therefore could not constitute a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The appeals court also affirmed the trial court’s award of attorneys’ fees to The Durango Herald. LSKS attorneys Steve Zansberg, Tom Kelley, and Shaina Jones Ward worked on behalf of the defendants.

Seidlin-Bernstein Speaks On Media Law In The Digital Age

LSKS attorney Lizzie Seidlin-Bernstein spoke at the America East media business and technology conference on a panel titled “Ethics and Media Law in the Digital Age.” The panel discussed best practices and new challenges related to internet publishing and social media, addressing recent issues in defamation, privacy, and copyright law.  

Brown Moderates Panel On Legal Challenges Under The New Administration

LSKS partner Jay Ward Brown moderated a panel titled “The First Amendment and the Next Four Years” at the Virginia Press Association’s Annual News and Advertising Conference. The panel discussed the legal challenges journalists will likely face during the new presidential administration, as well as how members of the media can prepare for those challenges.

Penchina Speaks On Media Law In The Trump Era

LSKS partner Bob Penchina spoke at the Society of Professional Journalists’ annual Northeastern Conference on a panel titled “Walk the Line with Media Law.” The panel addressed the state of media and First Amendment law in the wake of President Trump’s election, and covered a wide array of legal issues affecting journalists, including libel, privacy, newsgathering, and intellectual property.

LSKS Announces New Partner

LSKS is pleased to announce that, effective April 1, 2017, Paul Safier has become a partner in the firm, resident in our Philadelphia office. Paul graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as an articles editor for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. He started his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to joining LSKS, Paul worked in the appellate practice group of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. Before law school, Paul received a graduate degree in political science at Princeton University and was a lecturer at Princeton University, Swarthmore College, and Temple University. Since 2013, he has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Paul is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania.

Court Dismisses Claims Against Investigator For Documentary

A federal district court in Washington, DC dismissed defamation and privacy claims against an athlete who served as a freelance investigator for “The Dark Side,” an Al Jazeera documentary on sports doping. The court held that the athlete’s undercover reporting for the film did not constitute “publication.” The athlete was represented by LSKS attorneys Jay Ward Brown and Matt Schafer.

Court Grants Access To Jurors’ Names In High-Profile Trial

A Pennsylvania judge granted a media coalition’s motion seeking access to the names of the jurors in the high-profile criminal trial of former President of Pennsylvania State University Graham Spanier. The charges against Spanier arose from his failure to act after allegedly learning about accusations of abuse against football coach Jerry Sandusky. During the trial, the Associated Press and the publishers of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and the Harrisburg Patriot-News sought access to the jurors’ names, which had been placed under seal. The coalition was represented by LSKS attorneys Gayle Sproul and Paul Safier.

Information about additional news and events can be found in our News Archive.

Please note that not all attorneys are admitted to practice in all jurisdictions in which the firm maintains offices or has litigated cases. Please see individual attorney profiles for jurisdictions of admission.