Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (otherwise known as "SLAPP" suits) are more prevalent than ever given the ease of communication and multitude of platforms available for getting messages out. They are gaining even more notoriety in the presidential election since candidate Donald Trump vowed to "open up" the current libel laws to further protect him from facing public criticism.
Early 2016 was eventful for observers of media-related trials. In Florida, Terry Bollea (whose wrestling name is Hulk Hogan) obtained a massive $140 million verdict against Gawker Media and its CEO for the publication of a portion of what Bollea testified was an illegally made adult tape. And in Tennessee, Erin Andrews, an ESPN sports commentator, won a $55 million verdict against the operator of a Nashville hotel and the man that illegally videotaped her in her hotel room. Although the cases have significant differences, both trials are tremendously interesting and have at least one lesson in common.
In today's political climate, it is a rare topic that enjoys unanimous support in Congress. Yet that is exactly the case, at least in the Senate, when it comes to the "FOIA Improvement Act of 2016," a bill amending the federal Freedom of Information Act and which the United States Senate passed by unanimous consent on March 15, 2016. The White House announced the same day that President Obama would sign the bill if it reaches his desk in the form which passed the Senate.
The fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc. remains unsettled almost two years after the ruling. Although Aereo itself shut down and declared bankruptcy shortly after the Supreme Court's decision, FilmOn – an Aereo competitor – continues the fight.
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