As the media industry has grown and diversified during the past several decades, so has the experience of Holland & Knight’s Media Practice Team. We have collectively spent decades advocating on behalf of media clients of all sizes, and that experience is evident in the work we do on a daily basis.
Our dedicated team of First Amendment advocates has a long history of representing some of the industry’s leading broadcasters, publishers and Internet companies. We advise clients who distribute information by any means — newspaper, television, radio, motion picture, satellite and Internet — on just about every aspect of content. The depth of our experience in media law, coupled with our offices throughout the United States, enables us to meet the needs of media clients everywhere. Our keen attention to the ever-changing media landscape means that we stand with you as you pursue your business in a rapidly changing environment.
Our national Media Practice Team handles a wide range of legal matters for major media organizations and their representatives from Los Angeles to Chicago to Florida, Washington, D.C., and Boston. Clients, including leading news and television networks, rely on our team to represent their interests in numerous markets throughout the country.
Keeping Pace Amid Rapid Industry Change
We have developed thorough experience in the design of social media policies involving libel, privacy, First Amendment and employee relations issues. In addition, we have become highly skilled in online copyright litigation, policing and prosecuting intellectual property issues on the Internet. Our team is also deeply involved in the evolving issues of online free speech, exploring the rights and responsibilities of those who anonymously post opinions and news on the Web.
The financial crisis and ongoing challenges to the economy have intensified the issues facing an already struggling print industry. We have expanded our work in the creditors' rights area to protect the interests of media organizations engaged in bankruptcy proceedings. Likewise, we have become skilled in writing licensing papers to satisfy bankruptcy codes.
Practicing Journalism with an Eye Toward Defending Litigation
Consolidation has placed a bull's-eye on the media industry, creating deep-pocketed targets for high-stakes litigation. Our Media Practice Team offers an array of services designed to help you insulate your business from the risks of litigation. Those services include seminars for journalists to discuss potential legal issues arising in newsgathering, as well as best practices for limiting liability; publication/pre-broadcast review, where we offer legal advice before a story is put to bed; and counsel on advertising and Lanham Act issues, including model rate-card provisions, display advertising contracts and the requirements of legal notice advertising.
Although we work to avoid litigation where possible, at times it is the only avenue by which to achieve a satisfactory resolution. In those instances, we rely on our highly capable team of media litigators who leverage their breadth and depth of experience to provide the best possible representation to our clients. Our multidisciplinary approach enables us to draw resources from across the firm to assemble a team highly suited to the facts of your case.
- When a Wisconsin television station was the subject of a motion for subpoena under that state's new and previously untested shield law, the Holland & Knight Media Practice Team convinced a judge to deny the motion in a precedent-setting victory.
- When both the prosecution and defense in a racially-charged murder prosecution in Florida sought secrecy and closure, the Media Practice Team intervened jointly on behalf of the country's major media outlets and successfully opened up the court's file for public viewing and reporting.
- When a Washington, D.C., national network affiliate faced a defamation claim subject to the District's new Anti-SLAPP law, our Media Practice Team moved to dismiss, obtaining the first victory under the new law.
- When a trade association faced a John Doe subpoena for an anonymous tipster's identity as part of its private enforcement program on behalf of its membership, our Media Practice Team stepped in to quash the subpoenas. In the process, it established the standard a defamation plaintiff must meet prior to stripping an individual's First Amendment right to communicate over the Internet anonymously, and established new law on corporate defamation damages.
- When a Colorado television station received a subpoena for the IP address and other identifying information about a source who anonymously submitted a news tip over the Internet, our attorneys persuaded the court to quash the subpoena, applying the state's shield law to anonymous Internet communications for the first time.
- When a Georgia judge barred all potential witnesses from discussing the facts in a prosecution that captured headlines across the country, Holland & Knight’s Media Practice Team intervened at the request of the national media and persuaded the judge to scale back on his order.
- When a national television correspondent was subpoenaed to reveal a confidential source within the Washington, D.C., law enforcement community, his network retained our team to help him honor his promise to the source.
- When Florida elections officials denied the public access to the 2000 presidential election ballots, our Media Practice Team argued for — and won — the right to review every ballot.
- When a professional athlete filed libel litigation to censor a newspaper columnist from expressing opinions, our lawyers persuaded the judge to throw the case out.
In markets large and small, from the West Coast to the East Coast, Holland & Knight media lawyers have handled hundreds of matters on behalf of media clients in state and federal courts. Our team has experience in every type of litigation involving the media, including defamation and privacy defense; copyright and trademark infringement; unfair competition and trade secret matters; media antitrust issues; Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA Requests) at the municipal, state and federal levels; access to judicial records and proceedings; and quashing subpoenas issued to journalists.
Transactional and Regulatory Services
Our full-service Media Practice Team provides a wide range of transactional and regulatory services to our clients. We help with sales and acquisitions of businesses in the telecommunications industry, including FCC and other regulatory issues, state and federal tax planning, publishing and broadcasting contracts, affiliation agreements, tower-lease agreements, programming contracts, talent agreements, trademark and copyright regulation and policing, contest and sweepstakes advice, sales-incentive programs and event-coordinator agreements.
Intellectual Property and the Internet
Years of practice have given us a deep understanding of the laws governing intellectual property and the Internet and our team has extensive experience in the issues that are paramount to this area — registering domain names and litigating domain name disputes; analyzing defamation, privacy, copyright and trademark issues arising out of cyberspace; and preparing a variety of Internet-related contracts, such as Web hosting and website development, linking and licensing agreements.
This area of law is a natural extension of our established work in other media platforms and our team is committed to keeping up with the rapid pace of online media expansion. In addition to recent work on online privacy policies, social media policies involving libel and privacy issues and online First Amendment and employee relations issues, we have also been increasingly involved in online copyright litigation, investigating and prosecuting online intellectual property issues. Our team is intimately familiar with the intersections of traditional, online and social media and we are prepared to assist as you confront the varied challenges of online publishing.
Commercial and Contracting
Along with serving the First Amendment and transactional needs of our media clients, we also provide counsel and representation on commercial and contracting issues. Our lawyers are available to serve all of your business needs — talent contracts, programming agreements, collections from advertisers, affiliation and tower-lease agreements, and tax challenges — with a keen understanding of the competitive environment in which you operate.
Experienced Lawyers on Your Side
Members of our Media Practice Team have been selected for inclusion in leading industry publications based on their work in this area.
The bilingual attorneys on our Media Practice Team serve both domestic and Latin American enterprises. Our clients include a major Spanish-language network and the Spanish-language edition of the largest newspaper in Florida. We also provide professional translation services of legal documents, including privacy policies.
Leadership in Media Law Education
Our commitment to media law extends beyond direct service to our journalist and media company clients. We are highly active in the nationwide community of legal professionals and help educate lawyers, judges and journalists on media law issues.
Every year, our media lawyers serve in leadership positions for educational programs that are sponsored by the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law, the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, the Media Law Resource Center, The Florida Bar and the Florida Association of Broadcasters. Our team includes the past chair of the ABA Forum on Communications Law and treasurer of the Media Law Resource Center, Defense Counsel Section. We also guest lecture and have served as adjunct professors at numerous journalism colleges and law schools, including Georgetown University, American University, UNC–Chapel Hill, the University of Alabama, the University of Miami, the University of Florida, the University of Maryland, Indiana University and the Florida Coastal School of Law.