Posts from October 2008.

It’s the pivotal moment in countless episodes of Law & Order and CSI.  You know the scene by heart, no doubt.

Detectives approach the intrepid reporter asking for some video or information about where the reporter got a piece of information.  The reluctant reporter puts up initial resistance, saying something like, “That is confidential.”  Detectives quickly respond that they will get a subpoena if they "have to," and, if they do, “we’ll come back in a bad mood.”  Detectives leave with information in hand.

Such confrontations are key to wrapping up a case in forty-eight ... Read More 

Posted in Privacy

The Supreme Court of Florida yesterday issued two opinions holding that Florida law does not recognize the false light invasion of privacy tort.  These outcomes constitute significant wins for media defendants in a state where the existence of false light as a viable state-law claim has been hotly debated. 

Rapp v. Jews for Jesus, Inc. involved statements made by the plaintiff’s stepson in a newsletter that suggested the plaintiff had joined or was a believer in the Jews for Jesus philosophy.  Essentially, the plaintiff argued in the underlying proceedings that, while literally ... Read More 

With two weeks left in a hotly contested election season, the airwaves and newspapers are jammed full of political ads supporting (or attacking) one candidate or another.  These ads make for great political fodder, but they can also present knotty issues for broadcasters and newspapers to consider in deciding what to run and what not to run, especially as the ads become more negative in the late days of the campaign.

With negativity comes the possibility of defamation liability, especially when the target of the negative ad ends up losing the election.  While broadcasters enjoy ... Read More 

Posted in Wiretapping

The FCC today issued an order finding a broadcaster apparently liable for a $4,000 fine for broadcasting telephone conversations without giving prior notice of its intention to do so.   This order provides some important lessons for reporters who may want to incorporate actual telephone conversations into their broadcast packages.

Television and radio stations, as FCC licensees, are subject to a rule prohibiting the broadcast of telephone conversations without prior notice.  Section 73.1206 provides:

Before recording a telephone conversation for broadcast, or ...

Posted in Shield Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court case of Branzburg v. Hayes offers reporters limited constitutional protection from subpoenas compelling the disclosure of confidential sources or other source material.  The limitations of Branzburg and the lack of a federal shield law to complement state statutes first came into public consciousness in 2004 with the well-publicized Valerie Plame case. The effort to compel testimony from various Washington reporters about their contacts with White House officials was just one in what some perceived as a marked increase in the number of subpoenas served on ... Read More 

Posted in Intrusion

Although North Carolina does not recognize certain invasion of privacy claims recognized in some states, its courts have adopted the claim of invasion of privacy by intrusion. Unlawful intrusion is:

an intentional physical or sensory interference with, or prying into, a person’s solitude or seclusion or his private affairs, where the intrusion is highly offensive or objectionable to a reasonable person.

Examples of conduct that North Carolina courts have found constituted unlawful intrusion include physically invading a person’s home or private place, eavesdropping by ... Read More 

Posted in About This Blog

Our Digital Media and Data Privacy Law Blog was borne out of the firm’s Newsroom Law Blog. Given the number of new interactive platforms—and with social media steadily becoming a primary source for both of content and marketing information—content curation and delivery is expanding in ways few imagined. Our practice is expanding with it. This blog will discuss issues that affect all businesses (from large media organizations to small retailers) who use digital media—from intellectual property to data security to online content and marketing. Read More 

Posted in Internet

Jurisdiction is one of many issues that has become increasingly complicated in a world of web-based communications. Courts across the country have wrestled with the question of where a person who posts content on the Internet about another may be sued. Some litigants have argued that since the Internet may be accessed anywhere in the world, a person who places content on the Internet does so at the peril of being sued anywhere. Such approach would risk chilling Internet speech as bloggers and blog hosts may find themselves sued in far-flung locales, as potential plaintiffs troll the ... Read More 

Posted in Miscellaneous

We are pleased to launch Brooks Pierce’s Newsroom Law Blog, a blog focused on legal issues facing broadcast and print newsrooms. We look forward to providing regular content as a resource to journalists and editors working in newsrooms, as well as to legal professionals who advise media clients and academics who teach and study media issues.  The content we provide will range across the wide spectrum of legal issues that arise in the newsroom, from subpoenas to search warrants, from libel to invasion of privacy to trespass, from courtroom access to access to public records, from ... Read More 


* indicates required


Recent Posts


Jump to Page

This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. For more information on our cookie use, see our Privacy Policy.