Fall 2016 Silha Bulletin

Volume 22, Number 1

Bulletin Fall 2016: Volume 22, No. 1

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Cover Story: Facebook Confronts Questions, Criticisms over News Distribution, Censorship, and “Fake News” Influencing Election
During the autumn of 2016, social media giant Facebook was the target of significant criticism for its role as a distributor of news to the public.  

First Amendment: Restrictions on “Ballot Selfies” Raise First Amendment Issues During 2016 Election
During the 2016 presidential election, several states dealt with legal questions regarding “ballot selfies,” the posting of photographs of completed ballots on social media sites.  

Press Freedom: President Barack Obama Leaves Mixed Legacy on Government Transparency
In January 2017, President Barack Obama left office, eight years after he won his first presidential campaign with promises of greater government transparency, saying during his inaugural address that “transparency and the rule of law [would] be the touchstones of [his] presidency. 

Supreme Court News: United States Supreme Court Set to Hear Oral Arguments on “Disparaging” Trademarks
On Sept. 29, 2016 the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Lee v. Tam, a case in which the plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of the “disparaging clause” of the Lanham Act, which bars the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) from registering scandalous, immoral, or disparaging trademarks.  

Libel: American Bar Association Expresses Concerns over Publishing Report Calling Donald Trump a “Libel Bully”
On Oct. 24, 2016, The New York Times reported that the American Bar Association (ABA) was hesitant to publish a report analyzing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s history of filing libel lawsuits against his critics.  

Online Speech: Congress Adopts Law Protecting Online Consumer Reviews
On Nov. 28, 2016 the U.S. Senate passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, H.R. 5111, a law that would protect consumers from retaliation after posting negative online reviews.  

Media Ethics: The Daily Beast Pulls Article Effectively Outing Olympic Athletes
In August 2016, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics.  

Law Enforcement Conflicts: Advocates Criticize Law Enforcement Officials’ Deceptive Activities Involving the Press
During the fall of 2016, news organizations criticized law enforcement officials over the use of deceptive techniques involving the press while investigating criminal activity.  

Internet Technology: U.S. Government Ends Formal Oversight of Key Internet Infrastructure Functions Amidst Censorship Concerns
On Oct. 1, 2016, the U.S. government officially ended its formal oversight of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) after a two-year transition period.  

Defamation: Rolling Stone Found Liable for Defaming Dean in Now-Retracted Campus Rape Story
On Nov. 4, 2016, The New York Times reported that a federal jury had found Rolling Stone liable for defaming University of Virginia (UVA) Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo for its depiction of her in a now-retracted story about an alleged rape on UVA’s campus. 

Invasion of Privacy: Gawker and Hogan Reach $3 Million Settlement in Invasion of Privacy Suit
On Nov. 2, 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gawker Media filed documents in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York indicating that the company had reached a $31 million settlement with professional wrestler Hulk Hogan over an invasion of privacy lawsuit. 

Reporter’s Privilege: State Courts Consider Reporter’s Privilege Issues
During the fall of 2016, several individuals sought to invoke reporter’s privilege in various jurisdictions throughout the United States to prevent being compelled to reveal their confidential sources and non-confidential notes.  

Newsgathering: Independent Journalists Face Threats to Newsgathering Rights
Several independent journalists found themselves fighting restrictions on their abilities to gather news during the fall of 2016. 

State Law Updates: Media Law Issues at the Forefront in Several States
During the summer and fall of 2016, several states considered issues related to freedom of information and defamation.

Silha Center Events: 31st Annual Silha Lecture Examines Freedom of Expression and Racial Justice Tensions on College Campuses
During the 31st annual Silha Lecture, Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy rejected the notion that there must be conflict between champions of free expression and champions of racial justice in the United States.