Briefs & Comments

  • April 4, 2017

    The Reporters Committee initially filed an amicus brief before the Appellate Division, Third Department in support if Lifetime Entertainment's challenge to a misappropriation suit over its program about convicted murder defendant Christopher Porco. The Supreme Court (trial court) had dismissed the case under the newsworthiness exception to New York Civil Rights Law Section 51. The Appellate Division, Third Department overturned the order dismissing the case, finding that one letter telling Porco's mother that she would be able to express her feelings about the murder in a separate "non-fictional program" is sufficient proof of substantial fictionalization to withstand a motion to dismiss, and thus negates the newsworthiness exception. This amicus brief supporting Lifetime's motion for permission to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals, and highlights why allowing the Third Department's decision to stand would affect the news media.

  • November 4, 2016

    The Reporters Committee led a coalition of 29 media organizations in intervening in a French high court case between Google and the CNIL, the French privacy authority that enforces the data privacy directive. Google had been ordered to delist certain articles from its search results when searches are conducted by name. Google had complied with the demains within Europe, but the CNIL had ordered that the delisting command apply to Google domains worldwide.  The media coalition argued that French authorities had no right to force their interests on Internet users in other countries, and allowing such worldwide restrictions in the interest of enforcing domestic law would lead many other countries to try to restrict Internet access. The coalition brief was written with attorneys from WilmerHale.

  • November 4, 2016

    The Reporters Committee led a coalition of 29 media organizations in intervening in a French high court case between Google and the CNIL, the French privacy authority that enforces the data privacy directive. Google had been ordered to delist certain articles from its search results when searches are conducted by name. Google had complied with the demains within Europe, but the CNIL had ordered that the delisting command apply to Google domains worldwide.  The media coalition argued that French authorities had no right to force their interests on Internet users in other countries, and allowing such worldwide restrictions in the interest of enforcing domestic law would lead many other countries to try to restrict Internet access. The coalition brief was written with attorneys from WilmerHale.

  • October 6, 2016

    Christopher Porco filed a right of publicity claim under New York Civil Rights Law Section 51, arguing that Lifetime's broadcast of a film about his crime was "substantially fictionalized" and for commercial purposes. The Reporters Committee focused on the fact that under the statute, Lifetime could only be held liable if it broadcast the film “for advertising or for purposes of trade.” Having such a narrow scope, Section 51 did not apply to the docudrama, which did not use the plaintiff’s likeness for either of these reasons but rather to describe an actual event of public interest.

  • May 11, 2016

    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press asked Minnesota lawmakers to amend right-of-publicity legislation, called the PRINCE Act, to provide safeguards for constitutional rights. In its letter, the Reporters Committee urged Minnesota legislature to explicitly avoid regulating any form of political, artistic or other socially relevant expression by limiting themselves to commercial products that imply an endorsement or other connection to the individual.

  • April 28, 2016

    The Reporters Committee and other news organizations submitted comments to the Canadian Office of the Privacy Commissioner, urging it not to consider adopting a "right to be forgotten" as part of its privacy program.

  • February 26, 2016

    Two college basketball players assert that T3Media violated their rights of publicity after T3Media operated, with the approval of the NCAA, Paya.com, a website that allowed members of the public to view and purchase non-exclusive licenses to photographs copyrighted by the NCAA. In the amicus brief, which 22 organizations joined, the Reporters Committee argued that T3Media’s use of the photographs constituted speech fully protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, we asserted that the Plaintiffs could not restrict the dissemination of the photographs without showing a narrowly tailored compelling state interest — a standard they could not satisfy by asserting publicity rights. The brief further argued that the right of publicity is best viewed as a doctrine designed to prevent the unauthorized use of an individual’s name or likeness in connection with the advertisement of a product, and is not designed to restrict the dissemination of noncommercial speech.

  • January 31, 2012

    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has submitted testimony to the Illinois General Assembly in support of an amendment to the state eavesdropping law, which would create an exemption from criminal prosecution for the “[r]ecording of a peace officer who is performing a public duty in a public place and speaking at a volume audible to the unassisted human ear.” House Bill 3944 is an important step in reforming an overly broad law that criminalizes a critically important aspect of the newsgathering process and infringes on cherished First Amendment freedoms, the Repor

  • April 22, 2011

    Urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to find the Illinois Eavesdropping Act's criminalization of recording of conversations to which parties have no reasonable expectation of privacy unconstitutional

  • July 15, 2010

    Urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the principle that intrusion and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims should not be allowed where the harm is based upon the publication of controversial speech about matters of public concern.

  • December 31, 2009

    Urging the U.S. Supreme Court to accept review of an 11th Cir. right-of-publicity case in which the court strictly defined and interpreted "newsworthiness."