For more than four decades, the media attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine have regularly provided pre-publication, pre-broadcast and production counseling to the firm's clients. Today, our pre-publication work encompasses all types of media, including books, magazines, newspapers, television, film, websites and blogs, and involves every distribution system, including print, broadcast, electronic and live performance.
Major media and entertainment companies – as well as individual authors, writers and filmmakers – need solid and thoughtful legal advice and counseling prior to publication and broadcast. Legal issues to be considered and evaluated include intellectual property rights and clearance issues, and avoidance of defamation and privacy litigation or liabilities. Further legal issues are implicated by advertisements accompanying traditional content, and the two often must be analyzed together. Occasionally, given the borderless nature of electronic publication, international risk issues must be considered.
The firm’s media lawyers understand that pre-publication review must be both practical and careful, involving knowledgeable lawyers skilled in analyzing the types of legal risks arising from many types of media formats. Our clients often work on tight deadlines (such as the reporting of breaking news), and any legal assistance must be provided quickly. We work with our clients to determine the extent of legal review required and can take on a full project or assist with reviews done by in house counsel.
We provide pre-broadcast review for many cable and broadcast network clients in the television industry. For example, we regularly provide pre-publication advice to major cable networks such as CNN, E! Networks, Comedy Central—including work for "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report" and "South Park"—Discovery Communications, Showtime, Smithsonian, Adult Swim, MSN.com, Logo and others. In addition to networks, we conduct pre-broadcast review for several television production companies, including Granada America, producers of "First 48" (seen on A&E). Our work covers both nonfiction news programming, such as "The Daily Show," as well as traditional entertainment programming, including the hit AMC series "Mad Men" and CBS's "CSI."
We often work with producers of reality and documentary television programs. These range from "Most Evil" (which included jailhouse interviews) to makeover shows, such as the long-running "What Not to Wear" and "Worst Animal Nightmares." We have also assisted Rainbow Media in connection with documentaries that have appeared on IFC.
Our pre-publication review work on films extends beyond television to theatrically released films. Our attorneys provided such review for two Academy Award-nominated documentary features: "Capturing the Friedmans" (about an alleged child sex abuse scandal on Long Island) and "Deliver Us From Evil" (dealing with the Catholic Church abuse scandal). Davis Wright Tremaine also has provided production counseling on "Nanking" (about World War II atrocities), "Fur" (an imaginary portrait of Diane Arbus starring Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey Jr.) and the films, "All Good Things" (based on the life of Robert Durst) and "The Food Project" (a documentary focused on the production of food in America). We also worked on the Spike Lee-directed documentary/recordation of the Tony Award-winning musical "Passing Strange," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and on "Resurrection," a film about Tupac Shakur.
Davis Wright Tremaine regularly handles pre-publication review for major book publishing clients including Simon & Schuster, Random House, Holtzbrinck, Hachette, Macmillan and Barnes & Noble Publishing. We also regularly assist smaller publishers, such as Sierra Club Books. The firm regularly reviews a wide variety of full-length books, including both nonfiction and fiction (for potential libel-in-fiction liability). We work directly with authors and have a great deal of experience in minimizing clients’ potential legal risks while not interfering with authors' artistic and editorial preferences.
Newspapers and magazines
We have likewise worked with our newspaper and magazine clients for many years and have frequently assisted them in pre-publication matters, ranging from major daily newspapers (including The Wall Street Journal, The Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times) to weekly and alternative newspapers (such as the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Willamette Week). We also provide pre-publication counseling to a diverse collection of regular magazine clients, including Rolling Stone, Consumer Reports, The Economist, US Weekly, Men's Journal, Harper's, Maxim, Blender, In Touch, Life & Style, California Lawyer Magazine, Sierra Magazine, The Atlantic, and others. We similarly provide pre-publication advice to ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
Our media lawyers also advise digital media entities and website publishers, including Grist Magazine, which focuses on analysis of environmental issues; Gawker, a blog about media and popular culture; TMZ.com, the entertainment news site; and Atom (formerly Atom Films), which features comedic shorts and webisodes; as well as many individual bloggers and blog sites. We work with iReport.com, one of the most prominent user-generated news content sites on the Internet, and provide legal assistance to several video game companies.
Davis Wright Tremaine has been at the forefront in analyzing and addressing legal issues arising from the use of user generated content, including, the scope and applicability of the immunity available under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and practical issues raised by the DMCA, privacy policies and terms of service and other online content liability issues. Our attorneys have worked on a variety of contests involving user-generated video content, often involving the repurposing of material between television and the Internet.
Plays and theatrical works often address controversial and significant matters of public interest, and legal assistance can be of value to both playwrights and producers. We have worked with theaters and playwrights on both the East and West Coasts in providing pre-publication review of dramatic works. One example is the play "Back, Back, Back" by Itamar Moses, which was a forceful and dramatic account of the steroid scandals in baseball and was produced in New York.
Whatever the medium, our lawyers have a wealth of experience in providing prompt, efficient and skilled pre-publication advice and counseling.