Media and First Amendment Law

FIGHTING TO PROTECT FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS

Our Media and First Amendment Law Practice Group defends your freedom of speech in this rapidly changing world of new technologies. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of both traditional media and emerging digital platforms, allowing them to deliver cutting-edge counsel on expansive matters, including defamation, free speech, and newsgathering. Our clients include print and online magazines, newspapers, and book publishers; television and radio broadcasters, advertising agencies, and public relations firms; as well as reporters, authors, producers, filmmakers, and artists.

OUR NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED GROUP REPRESENTS CLIENTS ON A RANGE OF BUSINESS AND LITIGATION MATTERS, INCLUDING:

  • Libel, privacy, right of publicity, newsgathering, copyright, and trademark litigation;
  • Licensing, promotion, and vendor agreements;
  • Prepublication and pre-broadcast review of editorial and advertising content;
  • Strategies for repurposing content and use of third-party work;
  • Freelance agreements, releases, and permissions;
  • Native advertising, endorsement rules, and FTC compliance;
  • Use of mobile applications and social media platforms;
  • Strategy and policies for collection and use of consumer information;
  • Terms of use for all types of digital platforms;
  • Social media strategy and guidelines;
  • Sweepstakes, contests, and charitable promotions;
  • Access to public records, courtrooms, and government meetings;
  • Subpoenas, including confidential source issues;
  • Risk avoidance, training, and insurance advice; and
  • Chain of title review.

The work of our practice group extends beyond our services for media companies.  We also represent public entities facing First Amendment claims or issues; individuals and businesses seeking to manage and protect their online reputations; and citizens targeted by so-called “SLAPP” intended to chill public petitioning activities.

We practice media law because of our personal commitment to First Amendment values.  Our lawyers staff a 24-hour hotline for the New England Newspaper & Press Association (NENPA), providing legal guidance to more than 450 newspapers throughout New England.  We also provide pro bono counsel to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

Our group members frequently speak, write, and teach on media and First Amendment law topics, including presentations to such groups as the Practicing Law Institute, the American Society of Magazine Editors, the City and Regional Magazine Association, NENPA, and the Massachusetts and Boston bar associations.  Our group members have taught at colleges and universities throughout the region, including Boston College and Boston College Law School, Boston University, Emerson College, Northeastern University, Suffolk University Law School, and Tufts University.  We author nationally disseminated surveys of First Circuit media libel law, Massachusetts employment defamation law, and Massachusetts public records and open meetings law.

We have received a Tier 1 ranking, both nationally and for metropolitan Boston, in the “Best Law Firms” survey published in U.S. News and Best Lawyers.  The lawyers in our group have been recognized as “Best Lawyers in America” in the area of First Amendment, Media, and Communications law; named as “Super Lawyers” and “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers magazine; and highlighted among the Commonwealth’s premier “up and coming” lawyers by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

  • Investigative news broadcast: A team of lawyers led by Joe Steinfield represented Fox Television and its investigative reporters in three high-profile cases brought by the Islamic Society of Boston and members of its Board of Directors.  The suits included defamation, privacy, and civil rights claims based on investigative reports dealing with the construction of a new mosque and possible connections with radical Islamic individuals and groups.  After two years of litigation, plaintiffs withdrew all claims without receipt of any consideration.
  • Libel by juxtaposition: Rob Bertsche successfully moved in federal court to dismiss libel and false light invasion of privacy claims against a prominent regional magazine.  The claims arose out of the publication of the teenage plaintiff’s photograph accompanying an article on teen sexuality.
  • Prepublication and pre-broadcast review: Prince Lobel media lawyers regularly conduct prepublication review for newspapers throughout New England and for magazines ranging in scope from regional to international, as well as pre-broadcast review for a prominent regional cable network.
  • Lifting a gag order: We intervened on behalf of The New York TimesThe Boston Globe, and the Associated Press, successfully moving to vacate a court-ordered prior restraint that had enjoined publication of the (previously disclosed) name of the complaining witness in a high-profile clergy sexual abuse prosecution.
  • Talk show torts: Rob Bertsche and Jeff Pyle succeeded in Massachusetts Superior Court on a motion to dismiss tort claims against a nationally syndicated talk show, broadcast network, and Boston television station, arising out of a celebrity talk show that advocated “boot camp” for wayward children.
  • Libel by cartoon?: Prince Lobel attorneys defended a nationally syndicated cartoonist against a sportscaster’s claim that he was libeled by words uttered by a talking dog in a cartoon strip.
  • Corporate deals: Prince Lobel’s business lawyers negotiated an acquisition valued at up to $100 million for a prominent United Kingdom publisher, Euromoney Institutional Investor.  They also rewrote the bylaws of a storied daily newspaper with national circulation.
  • Insurance: Prince Lobel’s insurance lawyers assisted a high-profile New York media company in assessing its insurance coverage needs and reviewing and negotiating the policies offered to it by brokers.