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Berry And Zansberg Named Lawyers Of The Year

LSKS is pleased to announce that two of its partners have been recognized as “Lawyers of the Year” in The Best Lawyers In America® 2018. Mike Berry was named First Amendment Law Lawyer of the Year in Philadelphia, and Steve Zansberg was named Litigation – First Amendment Lawyer of the Year in Denver. The Best Lawyers 2018 listings are based on peer-review assessments, and only a single lawyer in each practice area in a city receives the “Lawyer of the Year” honor. 

Ten LSKS Attorneys Recognized By The Best Lawyers In America

LSKS partners Seth Berlin, Jay Ward Brown, Betsy Koch, Lee Levine, and Michael Sullivan of the firm’s Washington, DC office; Bob Penchina and Dave Schulz of the firm’s New York office; Mike Berry of the firm’s Philadelphia office; and Tom Kelley and Steve Zansberg of the firm’s Denver office have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2018. The Best Lawyers in America bills itself as “the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession” and selects attorneys based on a peer-review survey.

New York Appeals Court Holds Shield Law Applies To Specialty Publishers

A New York appeals court has held that the state's Shield Law, which protects journalists’ confidential sources, applies with equal force to specialty and niche publications, even ones with small circulations. After a lower court held that a New York-based specialty publisher was required to disclose its confidential sources, a coalition of media companies filed an amicus brief supporting the publisher’s appeal. The Appellate Division, First Department, of the New York Supreme Court reversed the lower court’s ruling, that the Shield Law's protections applies to all news publishers, and, relying on the arguments made in the amicus brief, explained that the lower court’s “fact-intensive inquiry” “would create substantial prospective uncertainty, leading to a potential ‘chilling’ effect.” LSKS attorneys Michael Berry, Chad Bowman, and Paul Safier worked on behalf of the media coalition.

Tenth Circuit Affirms Dismissal In Defamation Lawsuit

In a 98-page opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a defamation claim arising from a report on Dateline NBC about a training seminar that taught insurance agents sales techniques targeting senior citizens. After comparing the Dateline episode to the hidden camera footage of the entire seminar on which it was based, the court concluded that the report was substantially true. The team representing NBC consisted of LSKS attorneys Tom Kelley, Gayle Sproul, and Matt Kelley and NBC in-house attorneys Susan Weiner, Hilary Lane, and Chelley Talbert.

LSKS Partner Gayle Sproul Joins CBS Law Department

LSKS announced that long-time partner Gayle Sproul is leaving private practice for an in-house position at firm client CBS, where she will be a Senior Vice President in the Law Department advising all CBS News shows including the “60 Minutes” team. LSKS Managing Partner Jay Ward Brown observed, “Gayle helped us open both our New York and our Philadelphia offices, she has served in firm management, and she is greatly respected and liked by clients. On top of that, she is a really nice person. We will miss her greatly.” But, Brown added, “It obviously is a great compliment to Gayle that CBS wanted her for this position, and it is hard to imagine a job in the First Amendment practice area likely to be both as challenging and as rewarding as this one. CBS is lucky to have her, and we look forward to working with Gayle in her new capacity.”

Court Awards Fees In Facebook Live-Stream Copyright Case

A federal judge in the Southern District of New York has awarded attorneys’ fees to ABC, Yahoo, and other media companies after having dismissed copyright infringement claims brought by a man who live-streamed the birth of his son over Facebook Live. The court previously held that the defendants’ use of brief clips of the video for commentary and news reporting was a fair use, and in this follow-up ruling, the court determined that awarding fees would “encourage parties with strong legal positions to stand on their rights while deterring those with weak ones from proceeding with litigation.” LSKS attorneys Nathan Siegel and Dana Green represented ABC and Yahoo.

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.

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.  

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

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