Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
The media law experts at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are available for comment and analysis on breaking news stories involving issues such as content regulation, freedom of information, libel, newsgathering, prior restraints, privacy, reporter’s privilege (protecting confidential sources) and secret courts.
To schedule an interview with Executive Director Bruce D. Brown, Legal Defense Director Gregg P. Leslie, or Litigation Director Katie Townsend, find their direct contact information on our staff page. You also can email them directly at bbrown, gleslie or ktownsend via @rcfp.org.
Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown and Legal Defense Director Gregg Leslie were named among the top First Amendment and media lawyers in Washington, D.C., by Washingtonian magazine.
Reporters Committee Litigation Director Katie Townsend is named one of the "Next Gen 2015" Hollywood up-and-comers by The Hollywood Reporter. Earlier, Townsend was selected as a "Rising Star" by Legal Times.
In addition to its own FOIA request for access to police body camera footage in Washington, D.C., (see: "Reporters Committee appeals FOIA denial for video from D.C. police bodycams," and "Reporters Committee seeks review of denied FOIA request for D.C. police body cam video") and the development of its online map of police body cam regulations around the country, the Reporters Committee has been commenting on and reviewing policies from police departments nationwide. Coverage has included:
By the Reporters Committee:
The Reporters Committee led a coalition of 38 news organizations in a letter to St. Louis County, Mo. officials calling for the dropping of charges filed against two reporters a year after their encouters with police during the protests and rioting in Ferguson. Coverage of the media letter included:
Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown and Stanton Foundation National Security Fellow Hannah Bloch-Wehba, in a column for The Guardian about the Twitter free speech challenge to the FISA court, wrote:
"But secret tribunals are not appropriate forums to resolve questions of constitutional law about secrecy itself. Although the FISA court is a federal court composed of judges appointed under the United States Constitution, just like the federal trial court in which Twitter brought its case, it is ill-equipped to resolve questions that directly impact public knowledge of substantial government programs."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit overturned an injunction against Google's posting of a controversial video on its YouTube service. An actress in the anti-Muslim film argued that she had be dupped into appearing and her copyright of her performance gave her the right to have it taken offline. The trial court agreed, and Reporters Committee joined a friend-of-the-court brief arguing for Google's right to post the video.
Steering Committee member Tom Rubin of Stanford Law School wrote an analysis of the appeals decision for The Huffington Post, noting:
"As offensive as the video is (and it certainly is), and as sympathetic as the plaintiff is (and she certainly is), [actress Cindy Lee] Garcia used the wrong law to address the wrong. She would have been better off pressing her claims of fraud or breach of contract against the writer/director instead of asserting a copyright interest in her fleeting performance."
The Reporters Committee and other organizations argued against the government's subpoena of New York Times reporter James Risen in the espionage case against a former CIA officer accused of leaking classified documents. The jury reached a guilty verdict without Risen being compelled to testify about his source. In a statement after the trial, Attorney General Holder said, "As this verdict proves, it is possible to fully prosecute unauthorized disclosures that inflict harm upon our national security without interfering with journalists’ ability to do their jobs." Reporters Committee comments on the precedent-setting verdit were included in reporting from:
The Justice Department announced changes to its guidelines for issuing subpoenas and warrants to news media, providing greater proection for journalists. The Reporters Committee and the News Media Dialogue Group urged revisions in discussions with DOJ officials. Media coverage including Reporters Committee reaction to the announcement included:
Related: Steve Coll recounts the Reporters Committee's role in talks between the Justice Department and journalists about Risen's case specifically and reporter subpoenas generally in a review of Risen's book, "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War":