Free Speech

News & Analysis as of

Dot Sucks: A Battle Between Trademark Rights and Free speech

When the organization responsible for assigning domain names announced several years ago that it would expand the generic top level domain name system from the previous 21 to an unlimited number, brand owners knew their legal...more

Sony vs. N. Korea – Let Capitalism Fight Totalitarianism!

Cyber terrorism, North Korea, Sony, extortion, free speech, The Interview, international relations, journalistic ethics, cyber security… can it get any better than this?...more

Bribery Is Not a Free Speech Right, Judge Says

In late 2012, a California district attorney’s office obtained an indictment charging 18 defendants, including school board members, administrators and contractors, with conspiracy, bribery, perjury, filing false gift reports...more

Teach Appropriate Speech - Or risk liability for employees' derogatory on-line comments about customers

Recent District of Hawaii decision suggests social media policies are more important than ever, despite NLRB’s dramatic limits on employers’ ability to police employee speech on the Internet - Howard v. Hertz -...more

Status Updates - November 2014 #9

..A saving grace for search results. In the first case since 2007 to address the issue, a California state court judge recently held that Google’s search results are in fact protected by U.S. free speech laws, and that Google...more

Arizona Court of Appeals Recognizes Right of Publicity While Protecting Free Speech in Precedent Setting Case

For the first time ever, an Arizona state court has recognized that individuals enjoy a right of publicity that protects them from the unauthorized use of their name or likeness for commercial or trade purposes. In its April...more

Employers Finally Win NLRB Facebook Case

Over the past several years, EmployNews has dutifully reported decision after decision from the National Labor Relations Board concluding that employees’ use of Facebook and other social media sites to complain about work,...more

What’s in a Like?

In the pre-Facebook era, the word “like” was primarily a verb (and an interjection sprinkled throughout valley girls’ conversations). Although you could have likes and dislikes in the sense of preferences, you could not give...more

Internet Free-Speech and the Push Towards Unmasking Online Anonymity

Internet heavyweights including Google, Facebook, and Twitter are backing the popular business review site Yelp in a Virginia Supreme Court case that has gained country-wide attention as having the potential to significantly...more

NFL Films Ruling Blurs Right of Publicity

Earlier this year the Seventh Circuit stated that “there is no judicial consensus on how to resolve conflicts between intellectual-property rights and free-speech rights.” Jordan v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., 743 F.3d 509, 514...more

NLRB Still “Likes” Expansive Employee Speech

Unlike many issues, it seems that at least one issue (so far) has the NLRB on the same page as a recent court decision: whether clicking “like” on Facebook amounts to substantive, protectable speech. In my earlier blog posts...more

The Road to True Threats is Paved with Intimidating Intentions

Recently, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals considered the dividing line between free speech guarantees and the state’s authority to criminalize threat speech. In United States v. Heineman, the court held that the government...more

Cambodian Court Finds Blogger Guilty of Defamation

Last week, a British expat living in the Kingdom of Cambodia was convicted of defamation in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for statements published on his personal blog relating to the director of a private investment firm....more

Is Off-Label Drug Promotion Protected Free Speech?

It is a very common practice. Drug sales reps visit a client, usually a hospital, a clinic or a doctor, with the sole purpose of selling a drug or medical device. That is the primary way a doctor learns about a drug or...more

Not My Brother’s Keeper: Varley v. Regional School District No. 4 and A School District’s Responsibility For “Free Speech” Claims...

When entering into contacts with vendors, school districts hope that 1) the vendor will comply with the law, and 2) in any event, the vendor will be responsible for its own employment-related disputes. In Varley v. Regional...more

Supreme Court To Hear Sign-Ordinance Case

On July 1, 2014, the Supreme Court granted cert in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, a case in which the Ninth Circuit upheld the Town of Gilbert’s sign ordinance against a First-Amendment challenge. The case could directly impact...more

NLRB Concocts New F’ing Profanity Excuse

In 2005, a Starbucks barista walked into his store with several co-workers while staroff duty. He was there to protest Starbucks’ policy concerning baristas wearing pro-union pins. A row ensued between the barista and an...more

Supremes Rule That Trial Speech is Protected Speech – Part II

The Supreme Court previously ruled in Garcetti that a prosecutor’s internal memorandum written in the course of his job responsibilities did not constitute protected speech because he was speaking as an government employee...more

10 Tips for Creating an Effective Social Media Policy

A controversial tweet posted by a Kansas University professor last fall in response to the shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. resulted in the Kansas Board of Regents’ adoption of a revised social media policy. The...more

Dispelling Employment Myths Series – Issue 4: My Opinion Got Me Fired

Ever play the game telephone? It’s a game in which one person whispers something into the ear of the next person, and that person is supposed to whisper the same thing into the ear of the next person, and so on. When the...more

Sixth Circuit Reinforces CDA Immunity – Reverses Lower Court in Jones v. Dirty World

On June 16th, 2014, the Sixth Circuit reversed the lower court’s holding that the gossip site, TheDirty.com, was responsible for its users’ defamatory posts and could not rely on immunity under CDA Section 230. The appeals...more

SEC Petitions for Rehearing of First Amendment Issues in Conflict Minerals Case

On May 29, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for a rehearing of the First Amendment issues in the conflict minerals case. The SEC, however,...more

Intellectual Property Bulletin - Spring 2014

Right of Publicity? First, Let Me Take a Selfie - “Oh, he wants to do a selfie,” President Barack Obama observed with amusement before gamely posing with Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. Ortiz snapped the...more

Cussing Out The Boss May Be Protected

During a meeting about commissions and minimum wage and about his own and other sales peoples’ breaks, an employee lost his temper. In a raised voice he called his supervisors names, including “f***ing mother f***ing,”...more

U.S. House Approves Law Targeting Sex Trafficking Ads, Threatens to Undermine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

On May 20, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2014 (“SAVE Act”). If enacted, the bill would expose websites and other media to federal criminal penalties for...more

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