If a client publishes something that draws a demand for correction or retraction, the careful attorney usually considers it and, if appropriate, approves publication of a correction. The Rolling Stone trial threw a wrench into the works. Perhaps the most revolutionary takeaway from the trial is that the republication doctrine, previously a sleepy concept invoked in largely predictable circumstances to restart the statute of limitations, is now used as a backdoor means to establish actual malice and liability because of a retraction. The Rolling Stone trial is not alone.
Publishers now take care when they attempt to do the right thing and alert readers to errors in articles by corrections or editorial notes. Producers take care when they employ standard roll-out windows whereby a film or show opens on different platforms over time. These standard business practices are ripe for a trap tripped by plaintiffs who argue the work was “republished.” Liz will explore this development, a development little-known to even experienced attorneys, with other insights from weeks in the land of Jefferson – Charlottesville, VA.
DWT partner Elizabeth McNamara was Rolling Stone’s counsel in Elias v. Rolling Stone LLC, et al., obtaining dismissal of the libel suit brought by three fraternity brothers against Rolling Stone and author Sabrina Rubin Erdely arising out of article “A Rape on Campus” and Eramo v. Rolling Stone LLC, et al. against Rolling Stone and Erdely in a libel suit by University of Virginia Dean Nicole Eramo resulting in verdicts against both defendants. The dispute has since settled.