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MLRC 2018 Annual Meeting

New Chairperson Elected; A Review of MLRC Projects and Events

The Annual Meeting of the Media Law Resource Center, Inc. was held on November 7, 2018, at the Grand Hyatt in New York.

Chair of the Board of Directors, Lynn Oberlander, called the meeting to order.

Elections of Directors

The membership elected two new Directors to serve two-year terms: Lynn Carrillo of NBCUniversal and James McLaughlin of the Washington Post.

The Directors whose current terms lapse at the 2018 Annual Meeting and whom the membership reelected for two-year terms were:

  • Jonathan Anschell, CBS Broadcasting, Inc.
  • Ben Glatstein, Microsoft
  • Lynn Oberlander, Gizmodo Media Group

The Directors who were elected last year and will be entering the second year of their two-year terms are:

  • Ted Lazarus, Google
  • David McCraw, The New York Times Company
  • Gill Phillips, The Guardian
  • Randy L. Shapiro, Bloomberg L.P.
  • Regina Thomas, Oath, Inc.

Finance Committee Report

Regina Thomas delivered the Finance Committee's report. She referred the Board and attendees to the Statement of Financial Position and noted that MLRC had a good year. Executive Director George Freeman added that while the organization had a few more expenses than usual, MLRC's reserves are healthy and its financial situation is sound.

Executive Director Report

Given the current economic climate, George Freeman stated that MLRC should be pleased with membership levels. The state of MLRC is healthy, and we have on net not lost members in contrast with other associations, such as the ABA, who have shown losses.

Mr. Freeman also spoke about the 2018 Media Law Conference held in September in Reston, Va. The conference had 350 attendees and very successful plenary and breakout sessions.

Mr. Freeman also introduced MLRC new Legal Fellow, Josef Ghosn, who comes to MLRC following two and half years of litigation experience in Orlando, Florida.

Mr. Freeman also highlighted MLRC's new initiative: A consortium with the Reporter's Committee, CPJ, and PEN in response to the increasingly hostile relationship between the press and the current administration. The first project will be a digital publicity campaign focusing on the importance of a free press and the First Amendment. The message is still being formulated, but will not be overtly political.

Miami, Berlin, and London Conferences

Deputy Director Dave Heller announced that MLRC had an extremely successful year with its international conferences.

The Latin American Law Conference held in March was a success, and has become a hub for media lawyers in South Florida to meet with counterparts from Latin America. Highlights from the 2018 conference included: 1) A session on media coverage in Puerto Rico of Hurricane Maria; 2) a session on Fake News in Latin America focusing on the history of populism & anti-press propaganda in the region; and 3) a Q&A Miami Herald reporter Nic Nehamas on the newspaper's Panama Papers coverage. The next Latin American Law Conference will be held on Monday, March 11, 2019 at the University of Miami School of Communication.

This year, MLRC also held the European Media Lawyers Conference.  The conference took place in Berlin in June and was hosted at the offices of one of a member firms in Germany: Raue LLP. Highlights included: 1) A debate on whether and how hate speech should be regulated; 2) a session on fake news & online disinformation; and 3) a session with a German copyright court judge discussing fair use issues. This conference is an effort to build new bridges to lawyers in Europe. Attendees included lawyers from Bertelsmann, Bauer, Axel Springer all new to MLRC events.  The next conference will take place in Berlin in June 2019.

Planning is also underway for the next MLRC London Conference to be held in September 2019 at The Law Society. The first planning meeting was held during the Virginia Conference with numerous productive suggestions for topics and speakers.

Entertainment Law Conference and Northern California Initiatives

Deputy Director Jeff Hermes reported on next year's Entertainment Conference, which includes discussions on topics encompassing reporting in the age of #MeToo; Copyright, Trademark and the Public Domain: The New Era of Intellectual Property Management; Developments in Idea Submission Law; and Controversial Celebrities Causing Online Outrage: Dealing with a Social Media Backlash.

The 16th annual Entertainment conference, co-sponsored by Southwestern University School of Law, will be held on January 17, 2019.

Mr. Hermes reported on the status of the MLRC's Northern California In-House Counsel Call Series. The Call Series began last year and brought in house counsel together on the phone to discuss important media, intellectual property, and other relevant issues. It is comprised of 15-20 in house attorneys and ten usually participate in the call. The most recent call was concerned recent law suits regarding digital platforms and public forums.

Mr. Hermes then reported on the MLRC digital membership outreach initiatives. The initiatives concentrate on Law Clinic Membership, focusing on law schools with First Amendment programs and clinics. Currently, MLRC is working with the law schools at Arizona State, Yale, and Cornell. The clinics will be treated as DCS members regarding the materials accessible to them. The goal is to introduce the MLRC to law students with an interest in First Amendment work. Currently the dues are $500 per academic year and those dues cover instructors and materials.

Finally, Mr. Hermes presented on the Knight Foundation's proposal for an attorney referral service to be managed by the MLRC in order to refer attorneys to represent media companies in media lawsuits brought against them.

Digital Conference, Forum, and Publications

MLRC Staff Attorney, Michael Norwick, presented on the Digital Conference, upcoming publications, and annual Forum. Currently, MLRC is editing the 50 State Surveys and, as of 2016, publishing an e-book in cooperation with LexisNexis.

MLRC published two bulletins this year. The first was in April and was an updated trial damages study to include 650 trials from 1980-2017. A key takeaway was that the amount of trials in libel and privacy cases were greatly decreasing over that time period. In May, the MLRC published the digital bulletin. There were 716 downloads of the FOSTA article and analysis of the Goldman v. Breitbart copyright case

Mr. Norwick then presented on the Digital Conference. The 2018 Digital Conference was moved to the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco and will be there again next year on May 20-21, 2019. Two new co-chairs, Lawrence Polgram of Fenwick and Samir Jain of Jones Day, will join chair emeritus Kelly Craven of Facebook. There will be a session on the Goldman case and approaches to embedded linking. Additionally, there will be a session on the California Consumer Privacy Act. There will also be a planning session on content moderation with hypotheticals that will illustrate the tension between free speech and a safe online environment on social media platforms. Currently, MLRC is in the early stages of inviting an FTC chair to engage in a keynote / fireside chat conversation as the FTC is holding hearings on consumer protection and online platforms relating to antitrust issues, data privacy, and consumer protection.

Report on New MLRC Website and MediaLawLetter

Production manager Jake Wunsch presented on plans for a new MLRC website and new distribution approaches for the MediaLawLetter. At the Virginia Retreat in September, issues with the old site and goals for a new website were discussed. The main takeaway was that much of the information on the site could be used more productively if it was better presented and searchable. Mr. Wunsch stated that the way ahead will be to simplify navigation, to invest in good search functionality, and more user-friendly presentation.

Mr. Wunsch received bids from a half-dozen web designers before the Retreat. He will circle back with the developers and submit revised bids and plans to the advisory group.

Mr. Wunsch also reported that after eliminating the PDF version of the LawLetter last month, members raised issues so MLRC will continue to produce the publication both online and as a standalone PDF.

DCS Report

DCS Secretary Jay Brown reported on the work of MLRC's committees and task forces (set out in detail in the DCS Annual Meeting Report). George Freeman thanked Jay and the entire Executive Committee for their excellent work in overseeing all the committees and their projects.

Additional Approvals

The membership voted to approve the Amendment of DCS By-Law Section IV.2 "Number and Term" to state that all Executive Committee Officers shall serve one year in each position.

The Board also voted to approve Randy Shapiro of Bloomberg L.P. as the incoming chairperson of the Board.

Conclusion

There being no further business, the 2018 Annual Meeting concluded.

 
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