The American Bar Association recently convened the 20th Annual Conference of the Forum on Communications Law in Scottsdale, Arizona. Attended by over 225 of the nation’s leading media lawyers, the conference, once again, provided an outstanding forum to address the ever-expanding legal issues confronting legacy and new media in the fast-moving digital marketplace. Without question, the relentless advances in technology continue to present new challenges to the investigation and delivery of news across print, broadcast and digital platforms, and an abundant array of legal and ethical considerations.
One prominent panel discussion addressed the tension of “Press Sources and Government Secrets: Striking the Proper Balance” and featured a fascinating give and take between leading journalists and media lawyers on the one hand and the General Counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the other. Agreeing that the risk assessment and line drawing regarding the release or publication of “government secrets” differs between government decision-makers and a free and responsible press, the panelists highlighted the delicate balancing required in a world struggling with both domestic and international security/geopolitical crises, and the immense amount of information being trafficked across various media.
The Conference also featured compelling plenary sessions addressing “Modern Challenges in Defining Commercial Speech” (addressing the challenges of “native advertising” ‑‑ or “sponsored content” if you prefer) and a retrospective on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1975 decision in Cox Broadcasting v. Cohn, addressing “New Challenges from the Right-to-be-Forgotten.” These sessions served to highlight the challenges of journalism ethics, privacy rights and the challenging business of delivering news in 2015 and beyond. The Conference also featured lively break-out sessions addressing hot issues in access and newsgatherings; social media; internet and data privacy, advertising and promotions, among other critical media law topics.
FI&C was one of the only two Ohio-based law firms represented at the Conference, and remains committed to serving its clients in this space with leading-edge knowledge and advocacy. A member of the Defense Counsel of the Media Law Resource Center and the ABA’s Forum on Communication Law, FI&C attorneys publish on communication media law issues, and recently launched a new Twitter feed focused on highlighting relevant decisions, legislation and issues relevant to this ever-growing practice area (follow us: @FICMediaLaw). FI&C is also an active participant in the Ohio State Bar Association Media Law Committee, and routinely presents at the OSBA’s Annual Law & Media Conference each October.