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Newsroom Alert


Doug Pierce

Newsroom Alert provides you with the latest updates in First Amendment and other legal issues related to news gathering and reporting, including reviews of recent state and federal court decisions.  Some of the many topics include libel, copyright, privacy, and access to records and meetings.

Doug Pierce is a Partner at King & Ballow. He also serves as General Counsel for the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters and President of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.  He is a frequent writer on legal issues related to newsroom topics; he co-authors portions of the Media Law Resource Center’s annual 50 state surveys for Libel and Privacy.

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Private university’s police department deemed a public office

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 12:18


The issue before the Supreme Court of Ohio was whether a university’s police department was a public office for the purpose of Ohio’s Public Records Act. Despite the fact the university is a private school, the Court found that the private university’s police department was providing a core function of government, the enforcement of laws, which constitutes a public office.


Copyright Act preempts state law privacy claims

Tuesday, 16 June 2015 09:34


A former professional wrestler sued the group of sports television networks known collectively as ESPN in a Missouri state court for their re-telecast of his wrestling performances.  The wrestler claimed that ESPN failed to obtain his consent to the use of his identity, likeness, name, nick name, or personality to depict him in any way. 


Defamation case dismissed when subject was not named

Tuesday, 09 June 2015 08:02


Allegations of sexual assault led to a published headline and accompanying news article, which a college professor alleges defamed him. Due to the general description of the alleged wrongdoer, an Illinois appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the professor’s defamation complaint.


Hyperlink does not constitute republication of defamation

Monday, 01 June 2015 14:17


A U.S. District Court in Florida has determined a news article including a hyperlink to another article found to contain defamatory content did not constitute republication of the defamatory content, and accordingly, the publisher of the article containing the hyperlink was not liable for defamation.


Reporting on matter of public concern cannot support defamation claim if the defamation is only implicit

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 08:41


An economics professor was quoted in a New York Times article as saying slavery “was not so bad -- you pick cotton and sing songs.” The article, titled “Rand Paul's Mixed Inheritance,” was about libertarianism. It also quoted the professor as saying Woolworth's had the right to exclude blacks from its lunch counters because “no one is compelled to associate with people against their will.”


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