Update (Oct. 8, 2020): On Oct. 7, 2020, the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, reversed the trial court’s grant of Yelp’s motion for summary judgment. The court addressed the media coalition’s friend-of-the-court brief in a footnote. It states that Sections 632 and 632.7 of the California Invasion of Privacy Act apply only to recordings made with “electronic devices” and so does not “interfere with a journalist’s right to take handwritten notes.” (The court does not address whether note taking on a computer would be covered by the statute.) It also states: “[T]o the extent that media amici are referring in their brief to ‘note taking’ by journalists by way of a recording device, the legality of this sort of journalistic method under CIPA is not an issue presently before this court. Accordingly, we address it no further.”
RCFP and a coalition of 17 media organizations filed an amici brief in Gruber v. Yelp, a case before the California Court of Appeal. Plaintiff-Appellant Eric Gruber alleges that Yelp violated the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA) by recording conversations between him and Yelp’s employees. Gruber urges the court to adopt an expansive reading of CIPA, in which the term “record” would include any “simultaneous transcription of the information or statements imparted by the recorded party.” Our amicus brief urges the appellate court to reject Gruber’s broad reading of CIPA because it could lead to absurd results, such as criminalizing and imposing civil liability for simple note-taking, which has, and continues to be, an important tool for the news media, helping journalists ensure the accuracy of their reporting.