Media Law Resource Center

Serving the Media Law Community Since 1980


Media Law Conference

Join us in Reston, Va. on Sept. 21-23, 2016 for
MLRC’s Media Law Conference.

It’s the most substantive and effective conference for experienced media defense lawyers.

Over 300 members and friends gather for two and a half days of informative, interactive sessions and networking.

In addition to the usual timely and topical breakouts and boutiques, this year’s conference will feature plenaries commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King case - looking at both the copyright/fairuse/First Amendment and police/press aspects; a Fred Friendly hypothetical case program starring Washington insiders on the eve of the election; a panel of once active MLRC members who are now federal judges; as well as a rousing game of Family Feud: Journalism Edition; and a twist on the Next Big Thing, looking at the hits and misses of NBT sessions of the last ten years.

The early bird registration fee is $695 (through August 19). After that, registration is $745.  Registration opens in June. 

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, please contact George Freeman at (212) 337-0200 ext. 206 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For questions regarding program content, please contact Dave Heller at (212) 337-0200 ext. 205 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .




Registration Opens


Optional Meeting Time for Breakout Chairs and Facilitators



Rodney King, 25 Years Later; Fair Use and Police/Press Issues

An analysis of the copyright case brought by the plumber who shot the beating video footage against the networks and others. Was a taking of the video a fair use? Did the First Amendment give an extra layer of defense to the copyright claims? And how to improve Police-Press relations in the context of  the urban riots which ensued and continue to Ferguson and beyond: Access to Demonstrations and documents, Citizen Journalism, Body Cams and more.


William Dunnegan, Dunnegan & Scileppi

Francis T. Healy, Special Legal Advisor to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner

Mickey Osterreicher, National Press Photographers Association

Steven Perry, Munger Tolles & Olson

Lizanne Vaughn, Getty Images

Moderator: Daniel Waggoner, Davis Wright Tremaine



Chris Bliss, Comedian and First Amendment Proselytizer

Comedian Chris Bliss will entertain with a riff on the First Amendment, but will also talk about his plan, completed in Arizona and pending in other states, to establish a Bill of Rights Memorial on the grounds of each of the 50 state capitols.


Coffee Break


Boutique Sessions A

Data Privacy 101

In response to audience demand, this is a beginner’s workshop on data privacy law. Ask all the questions you elsewhere might be afraid to admit you have. Among the fundamental issues to be covered are: What laws govern the cyber-security area and does the jurisdiction you are in matter? What role do self-regulatory guidelines play in data protection and do data protection requirements vary by industry?

What happens if your company violates data protection law?

Chairs: Yaron Dori, Covington & Burling; Mary Ellen Callahan, Jenner & Block

Employment and Labor Law

Attendees will choose among these topics: How should media companies respond to violent attacks  on their journalists? Can media companies still have unpaid interns? What is the potential impact of  the Dept. of Labor’s new test for independent contractors? What’s the effect on media companies  if the Dept. of Labor implements its salary base increase for FLSA exemptions? How to defend  discrimination claims, and are there First Amendment and anti-SLAPP defenses? How best to execute layoffs and buyouts?

Chairs: Tanya Menton ABC; Tom Wilson, Vinson Elkins

FOIA and BodyCams

FOIA at 50: Best practices for submitting FOIA requests, and negotiation tactics; often overlooked access laws and techniques to obtain public records.

Body Cams: Existing statutes and ordinances; pending and upcoming legislation and policies; MLRC’s Model Policy.

Chairs: Terry Mutchler, Pepper Hamilton; Steven Zansberg, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz


Pre-Publication/Pre-Broadcast (repeated on Friday)

Vetting the contents of articles and videos: What are the libel and privacy concerns? What role does risk assessment play? How should lawyers approach the vetting conversation with editors?

Chairs: Eileen Hershenov, Miller Korzenik Sommers Rayman; Andy Siegel, CBS; David Sternlicht,  NBCUniversal; Jennifer Klear, The Wendy Willams Show.

Subpoenas, the Reporters’ Privilege, and Shield Laws

Could there be an FBI vs. Apple for the press? Does the reporters’ privilege apply to tech information and the cloud? Reporter’s privilege 2.0: new arguments for its application to U.S. and foreign news media. What are the effects of the Risen case and the revised DOJ guidelines? Chairs: Kristina Findikyan, Hearst; Andrew Crocker, Electronic Frontier Foundation


Opening Reception



Program: A Hypothetical Case Panel in the Context of the 2016 Presidential Campaign

A Fred Friendly-style hypothetical with journalists, political insiders and media lawyers raising issues in covering a political campaign, such as neutral reportage, broadcasting hidden camera and audio tapes of a campaign meeting, distribution of sex tapes of candidates, and other timely issues.


Tom Clare, Partner, Clare Locke

Karen Finney, Strategic Communications Advisor & Senior Spokesperson, Hillary Clinton Campaign Kevin Madden, Partner, Hamilton Place Strategies

Ken Strickland, Washington Bureau Chief, NBC News

Sam Stein, Senior Politics Editor, Huffington Post

Barbara Wall, SVP & Chief Legal Officer, Gannett

Moderators: Laura Handman, Davis Wright Tremaine; George Freeman, MLRC




Program: A View from the Bench

Former MLRC Members, Now Federal Judges, Share Their Views on Media Cases

Judge Mark Hornak (W.D. Pa.)

Judge Wendy Beetlestone (E.D. Pa.)

Moderator: Adam Liptak, The New York Times


First Breakout Session

Each registrant will be assigned to one breakout group of approximately 50 individuals for purposes of participating in each of the breakout topics, and will move to a different room for each breakout session.

Digital Media:

An in-depth discussion of the latest developments in Section 230 law, as well as liability for harmful speech transmitted via online platforms; the status of right to be forgotten laws; encryption and  national security; and more.

Intellectual Property Torts:

An in-depth discussion of the latest developments in online copyright; additional issues at the  boundaries of copyright law; the Slants / Redskins cases and registration of disparaging trademarks;  use of music in election campaigns; right of publicity law; best practices in IP clearance; the use of IP claims to end-run First Amendment protections and more.

Publication Torts:

An in-depth discussion of the latest developments in defamation and privacy law, including determining public interest in privacy cases, libel lawsuits over denials of allegations; pleading actual malice under Iqbal/Twombly; proof of actual malice; developments in opinion law and more.




Boutique Sessions B

Anti-SLAPP Litigation and Legislation

Update and review of anti-SLAPP laws and legislation; varying scope of anti-SLAPP laws (stay of  discovery, attorney’s fees, right of interlocutory appeal); strategic concerns in when and what to file,  and how to respond to your adversary’s actions; judicial distaste for anti-SLAPP laws; application of anti-SLAPP laws in federal court; current state and federal anti-SLAPP initiatives. Chairs: Laura Prather, Haynes & Boone; James Chadwick, Sheppard Mullin

Cross-Border Vetting

“You’re Not in Kansas Anymore”: What jurisdictions should you think about when vetting a story with subjects from various countries? Should you use the lowest common denominator or a more practical approach? How to deal with cross border IP and reporter’s privilege issues – and do other countries have more protections? How should journalists use social media overseas? Enforcement of foreign judgments.

Chairs: Elizabeth Morley, Howard Kennedy; Randy Shapiro, Bloomberg

The FCC and the 21st Century Media Marketplace

What did the D.C. Circuit decide in the net neutrality case, what are the odds of Supreme Court  review, and what does neutrality mean for online content providers? What’s at stake in the FCC’s  ongoing proceeding regarding privacy rules for ISPs? Why is Google fighting the cable industry and content companies over set-top boxes, and what are the implications for copyright protection of  programming? What’s the latest news on the FCC’s media ownership rules? Chairs: Peter Karanjia, Davis Wright Tremaine; Erin Dozier, NAB


Modern challenges to newsgathering: Public officials’ emails on private servers; violence at campaign rallies; ballot selfies; interactive use of social media; ag-gag laws and undercover reporting; drones update–from FAA rules to insurance; expungement and sealing of court records; citizen cameras; FERPA; and cloud-based public records.

Chairs: Cynthia Counts, Duane Morris; Nabiha Syed, Buzzfeed

Trial Tales

A perennial favorite reviewing important and interesting media trials of the last two years. Lawyers from the Mitre v. HBO and Hulk Hogan v. Gawker trials will share lessons learned from the frontlines.


Kevin Baine, Williams & Connolly

Michael Berry, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz

Dane Butswinkas, Williams & Connolly

Tom Hentoff, Williams & Connolly

Chair: Tom Kelley, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz



Program: Journalistic Family Feud

Teams of lawyers from different geographical regions will try to match their answers on legal and  journalism questions with those of the audience. Host: George Freeman, MLRC


Second Breakout Session

Digital Media

Intellectual Property Torts

Publication Torts

THURSDAY continued…


Next Generation Happy Hour

Hosts: Matthew Schafer, Levine Sullivan Koch Schulz; Drew Shenkman, CNN; Christine Walz,  Holland & Knight


London Conference 2017 Open Planning Meeting


Outdoor Reception in the Pavilion


Outdoor Dinner Buffet




Program: The Soul of the First Amendment

Speaker: Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon & Reindel

A preview of Mr. Abrams’ new book of that title, highlighting how the U.S. is an outlier in providing sweeping First Amendment rights–and how different our ongoing political campaign might be if it were governed by the law of other Western democratic states.


Third Breakout Session

Digital Media

Intellectual Property Torts

Publication Torts




Boutique Sessions C

Advertising and Commercial Speech

Developments in advertising and commercial speech cases, including discussion of what is native  advertising and what makes it different; whether varying platforms raise different issues; and other advertising and commercial speech issues.

Chairs: Deirdre Sullivan, New York Times, and Ezgi Kaya, ALM

Encryption and Protecting Reporters’ Materials

Mass state surveillance and digital security practices have been increasingly in the news since the Snowden revelations, but the technical and legal implications for journalists and newsroom lawyers  remain complex and convoluted. This interactive session by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will provide an introduction to using (and not using) technology to protect communications and materials both inside and outside the newsroom. Topics will include email encryption, secure  computing environments, basic threat modeling, mobile security, and protecting online sources.

Chair: Adam Marshall, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Entertainment Law

A hypo to cover submissions and oral pitches of ideas for film and TV projects, including best practices, submission agreements and idea theft claims; acquisition of rights “ripped from the headlines”–“based” or “inspired” by true events and the Hurt Locker case; vetting the screenplay (what is required and the risk of claims); advertising and marketing issues; piracy; and recent entertainment litigation.

Chairs: Joel Weiner, Katten Muchin Rosenman; Pat Duncan, HBO


Lawyer blogs: lawyering or advertising? The uses or misuses of Facebook; discussing ongoing trials in social media; spoliation issues in social media; the use of information from data breaches; the risks and rewards of lurking on social media.

Chairs: Bruce Johnson, Davis Wright Tremaine; Len Niehoff, University of Michigan School of Law;  Nicole Hyland, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz


Vetting the contents of articles and videos: What are the libel and privacy concerns? What role does risk assessment play? How should lawyers approach the vetting conversation with editors?

Chairs: Eileen Hershenov, Miller Korzenik Sommers Rayman; Andy Siegel, CBS; David Sternlicht,  NBCUniversal; Jennifer Klear, The Wendy Willams Show

12:30-2:30  Lunch

Program: The Next Big Thing: The Hottest Trends in Media Law

A look back at the NBT candidates from prior conferences. Were they hits or bloopers? Plus a look ahead for the Next Big Thing.


Sandy Baron, Yale Information Society Project (Pressure on Sec. 230–’10)

Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum, Time Warner Cable (Net Neutrality–’06)

Mickey Osterreicher, NPPA (Drones–’12 )

Lynn Oberlander, First Look Media (Federal Regulation of Privacy–’10)

Nathan Siegel, Levine Sullivan Koch Schulz (Right of Publicity Proven Wrong–’14)

Kurt Wimmer, Covington & Burling (Citizen Journalism–’06)

Plus a “wild card” spot on the panel for a conference goer to present her or his prediction of the next hot trend in media law or policy.

Moderator: Jonathan Anschell, CBS Television



Past Conferences

MLRC/NAA/NAB 2014 Media Law Conference

September 17-19, 2014; Reston, VA
Conference Materials
(registered attendees only) | Conference Brochure

MLRC/NAA/NAB 2012 Media Law Conference

September 12-14, 2012; Reston, VA

Conference Materials (registered attendees only)| Conference Brochure

NAA/NAB/MLRC 2010 Media Law Conference

The New Decade: Challenges to the Legacy Paradigm

September 29-October 1, 2010; Chantilly, VA

Conference Materials (registered attendees only)| Conference Brochure

NAA/NAB/MLRC 2008 Media Law Conference

New Legal Visions for the Evolving Media World

September 17-19, 2008; Chantilly, Virginia

Conference Materials (registered attendees only) | Conference Brochure

NAA/NAB/MLRC 2006 Media Law Conference

Protecting the First Amendment in Challenging Times
September 27-29, 2006; Alexandria, Virginia
Binder Materials | Breakout Session Outlines | Conference Brochure
Geoffrey Robertson Speech: Perils of Publishing in the Global Age

NAA/NAB/LDRC 2004 Media Law Conference

Forty Years After New York Times v. Sullivan: Problems, Possibilities and Answers

September 29 - October 1, 2004; Alexandria, Va.
Trial Tales

NAA/NAB/LDRC 2002 Libel Conference

A First Amendment Odyssey

September 12 - 14, 2002; Alexandria, Va.
Trial Tales

NAA/NAB/LDRC 1999 Libel Conference

Back to First Principles
September 22 - 24, 1999; Arlington, Va.
Trial Tales

NAA/NAB/LDRC 1997 Libel Conference

Media Defense in the Twenty-First Century

September 20 - 22, 1997; Reston, Va.

Trial Tales

NAA/NAB/LDRC 1995 Libel Conference

New Media, New Torts, New Threats: Libel Defense in the Next Century

September 20 - 22, 1995; McLean, Va.

Trial Tales

NAA/NAB/LDRC 1993 Libel Conference

After Masson, Milkovitch and Connaughton: Trials in the Trenches of Truth

October 6 - 8, 1993; Tysons Corners, Va.

Trial Tales

ANPA/NAB/LDRC 1991 Libel Conference

Defamation Law After Justice Brennan: What Course Will We Steer Without the Author of New York Times v. Sullivan?

September 25 - 27, 1991; Boston
Trial Tales

ANPA/NAB/LDRC 1989 Libel/Privacy Conference

A Guide to Building Winning Strategies
August 24 - 26, 1989; Seattle

ANPA/NAB/LDRC 1983 Conference

Libel: A Practical Workshop for Defense Counsel
August 25 - 26, 1983; Chicago

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