Media, Entertainment and First Amendment

 


 
Illinois legislators recently enacted an “anti-SLAPP” statute, the Citizen Participation Act, which Mandell Menkes is utilizing to protect its clients, many of which perform “acts in furtherance of the constitutional rights to petition, speech, association, and participation in government.” Our litigators successfully sought dismissal of claims of defamation and false-light invasion of privacy in a recent case by asserting immunity under the Act.  We represented a television station facing allegations that it defamed a local business by reporting on a possible connection between campaign donations to a state representative and favorable results in property tax appeals. 

 

Mandell Menkes argued that the Act immunized the station’s reports from liability because they aimed to rectify potential political corruption. The district court agreed, rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument that the CPA should not protect “major media organizations” or defendants who are motivated by profit.  The court further held that the CPA applies because “objective persons in defendants’ shoes could have reasonably expected to procure a favorable government outcome by publishing the reports,” and it rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the CPA requires that the moving party “reached out directly to a government entity.”  Both on the merits and by directing the defendant to pay our client’s fees, this ruling advanced the legislative objective of fostering speech to affect matters of public concern.

 


  

Mandell Menkes has established one of Chicago’s premiere practices dedicated to counseling and representing media companies in content-related matters. Our attorneys have defended local and national newspapers, book publishers, radio and television stations, on-air talent and Internet based publishers in claims based on defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, infliction of emotional distress and negligent employment claims. We have also litigated First Amendment claims of access to court proceedings on behalf of nationally recognized print media companies, prosecuted Freedom of Information Act requests and provided pre-publication review and guidance related to newsgathering issues to our media clients.

 

In the field of entertainment and the arts, Mandell Menkes lawyers have counseled and represented artists, musicians, musical arrangers, recording companies, theatrical ventures, sports figures, advertising agencies, greeting card manufacturers, and toy and computer game companies in a myriad of matters including entity formation, negotiating and drafting licensing agreements, counseling relating to copyright and trademark matters and litigating claims involving intellectual property, false advertising and unfair competition.

 

Mandell Menkes lawyers frequently lecture and publish articles on topics relating to media, entertainment and First Amendment law and are members of the American Bar Association Forum on Communications Law and Forum on the Entertainment and Sports Industries, Media Law Resource Center and the Illinois Broadcasters Association.