Free Speech

News & Analysis as of

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

Pejorative Statements by Former Patient are not Defamatory, but Protected Opinion

It is fair to say that doctors trade on their reputations more so than most other professionals. When one relies on the doctor to ensure his or her health, and occasionally save a life, the import of such a choice often...more

Managing Your Media: A Practical Primer on Operating Public Entity Social Media Pages

You have heard it before and will hear it again: Social media has revolutionized the way the world communicates. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and others are here to stay. Social media pages are the newest and best...more

Employee Fired For Getting Divorce Cannot Raise Claim Against Former Religious Employer

As I noted in my last blog post, the First Amendment does much more than give a person the right to the freedom of speech. For example, the First Amendment contains the Religion Clauses, one of which allows religious...more

“River Crabbing” Chinese Search Engine Battles for Freedom of Expression in the U.S.

In 2004, the Chinese Communist Party announced a new national goal of building a “Harmonious Society.” Since then, this goal has often been cited by the Chinese government as a reason for Internet censorship. In Mandarin,...more

Regulation Requiring Spaced-Out Digital Billboards Does Not Violate First Amendment

We've all seen it before: a person says something rude, which elicits a "watch your mouth" response, and the foul-mouth person replies, "Hey, I have a right to free speech!" Touché. A lesser-known use of the First Amendment...more

UNMASKING BLOGGERS: Hedge Fund’s Bid To Unveil Blogger’s Identity Highlights First Amendment, Trade Secrets Clash

America’s reverence for anonymous speech is as old as the republic itself, tracing its roots to Thomas Payne’s pamphlet “Common Sense” and the Federalist Papers. But the right to speak namelessly has limits, and hedge fund...more

Minority Television Project, Inc. v. FCC and Lincoln Broadcasting Co.

Petition For Writ of Certiorari

Questions Presented: 1. In 1969, this Court held in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, 395 U.S. 367 (1969), that the First Amendment permits the government to restrict the speech of broadcasters in ways that this Court...more

Last Word on “Boobie” Bracelets From the U.S. Supreme Court

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request by the Easton Area School District in Pennsylvania to declare the “I ? Boobies” bracelets as lewd and unacceptable in school. The prior ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals...more

The Constitutional Rights of Students Wearing American Flag Shirts on Cinco de Mayo Were Not Violated When They Were Required to...

On Cinco de Mayo 2010, when school officials at a California high school became aware of a potential altercation between two groups of students, they asked the students wearing shirts bearing images of the American flag to...more

Top 5 Legal Trends For Hospitality Employers

There is much to be learned from 2013. Below are five legal topics that made headlines last year, and should provide valuable guidance for managing labor and employment law issues in 2014....more

Ninth Circuit Recognizes Copyright Interest in Actor’s Performance in Response to Fatwa to Justify Takedown of Video

The Ninth Circuit became the first federal appellate court to hold that an actor has a copyright interest in her performance, holding that a district court abused its discretion in denying a motion for preliminary...more

Commercial Disparagement An Increasing Concern In The Age Of Social Media

Companies are turning to social media with increasing frequency to directly communicate with customers and potential customers. T-Mobile USA is no exception. Not only did the company release an astonishingly snarky press...more

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