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Eric M. Stahl

Eric Stahl primarily represents media and entertainment companies, advertisers, and other communications companies in intellectual property, commercial, and First Amendment matters. He represented the plaintiff in a case resulting in the largest reported award of copyright statutory damages, and has litigated numerous other infringement and contractual ownership claims involving music, motion pictures, photographs, and digital works. Eric advises clients on licensing matters, pre-publication review, public records access, and other content-related issues. He also represents studios and production companies in connection with the development and distribution of documentaries and other motion pictures and rights clearance issues.

Practice Highlights
  • Regularly provides national and regional news and online clients with pre-publication review and counseling on content-related issues, including DMCA, fair use and other copyright matters, defamation, and privacy
  • Advises clients regarding social media use and best practices
  • Represents major studios and others in connection with the development and exploitation of motion pictures, including drafting of acquisition and distribution agreements and advising on chain of title, rights clearance, and other ownership issues
  • Litigates offensive and defensive copyright and contractual disputes involving music, motion pictures, imagery, and other intellectual property
  • Defends advertisers, telecommunications companies and others in class-action and complex litigation
  • Advises regional newspaper on business issues related to online and other advertising, circulation, and antitrust 

Representative Experience

Maloney v. T3Media, Inc.

Represented T3Media, a provider of digital hosting and licensing services, in a right-of-publicity lawsuit brought by two former college athletes on behalf of a putative class based on the display and licensing of NCAA photographs on a website owned by T3Media. District court granted T3Media’s SLAPP motion and subsequent fee motion. Plaintiffs appealed, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the lower court’s ruling. Plaintiffs subsequently agreed to pay an additional fee award. (C.D. Cal., 9th Cir. 2017)

Trade secret defense for corporate officer

Defended former COO in lawsuit brought by company alleging trade secret violations and tortious interference. Successfully settled after cross-motions for summary judgment. (Wash. 2016)

Fisher Broadcasting-Seattle TV LLC v. City of Seattle

On behalf of major news organizations and open government advocates, filed state Supreme Court amicus brief arguing for public disclosure of police dash cam videos. Court adopted statutory construction advocated by amici. 326 P.3d 688 (Wash., 2014)

Henne v. City of Yakima

On behalf of major news organizations, filed amicus brief in first case construing Washington’s anti-SLAPP statute to reach the Washington State Supreme Court, urging the Court to construe the statute in favor of protecting defendants’ speech and petition rights. Court ruled that as recipient of communications, municipality was not engaged to protected activity. (Wash., 2015)

Linda Cawley v. Vancouver Columbian

Defended newspaper in defamation action brought by teacher, based on published articles about investigation into alleged classroom assault, with trial court granting summary judgment. (Clark Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2013)

Seattle Times Co. v. Serko

Represented newspaper before Washington Supreme Court and trial court in public records litigation over police investigative files stemming from the 2009 shooting of four police officers. Obtained a unanimous decision that police records cannot be categorically withheld from public access, even in the face of a claim that disclosure threatens the suspect's fair trial rights. 170 Wash.2d 581, 243 P.3d 919 (Wash. App. 2010)

Doe v. Reed

Submitted amicus brief on behalf of national and Washington state media in support of constitutionality of the Washington Public Records Act, which required public disclosure of names of referendum sponsors and signatures. 130 S.Ct. 2811 (U.S. 2010)

Vargas v. Pfizer

Successful defense of a soundware company against copyright infringement claim based on drum loop used in advertisement. Case raised issues of originality, independent creation and substantial similarity. Defendants prevailed on summary judgment. 418 F. Supp. 2d 639 (S.D.N.Y 2005, 2d Cir. 2008) LLC v. Chiesa et al.

Secured an order permanently enjoining enforcement of N.J.S.A. § 2C:13-10, which makes it a crime to knowingly publish, disseminate, display, or to "directly or indirectly" cause offending content to be published.  The court held the law violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. § 230, and the First Amendment and Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. (D.N.J. 2014)

Jimenez v. City of Chicago

Successfully quashed subpoena, on First Amendment grounds, directed to former student journalist for newsgathering material. 733 F. Supp. 2d 1268 (W.D. Wash. 2010)

Cawley-Herrmann v. Meredith Corporation

Successfully represented Meredith Corp., owner of KPTV in Portland, Ore., in motion to dismiss and subsequent motion for reconsideration in a lawsuit brought by plaintiff alleging a new theory of invasion of privacy through the publicity of her identity as the subject of allegedly false and unsubstantiated allegations. 654 F.Supp.2d 1264 (W.D. Wash. 2009)

Illinois Tool Works, Inc. et al. v. Seattle Safety, LLC

Represented crash sled patent holder in a patent infringement, breach of contract, and unfair competition litigation against former contractor. Won partial summary judgment of infringement; case settled four days before trial. (W.D. Wash. 2011)

Breach of contract dispute for book author

In arbitration, successfully obtained dismissal of breach of contract claim arising from statement made in the defendant’s book. Arbitrator found that anti-SLAPP statute applied and dismissed the complaint because it failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. (2011)

Salehoo Group Ltd. v. ABC Co.

Successfully moved to quash subpoena directed at anonymous owner and operator of website critical of plaintiff. The court found the plaintiff had not overcome the defendant's First Amendment right to speak anonymously because it had not stated a prima facie claim for defamation or Lanham Act violations. 722 F. Supp. 2d 1210 (W.D. Wash. 2010)

Long v. Internal Revenue Service

Successfully moved to require the IRS to continue producing records under the Freedom of Information Act and recovered award of attorneys' fees on two occasions. 2008 WL 4083172 (W.D. Wash. 2008)

Parmelee v. O'Neel

Represented ACLU as amicus curiae in successful argument that state criminal libel statute is unconstitutional. 186 P.3d 1094, 145 Wash. App. 223 (2008)

Hearst Communications v. The Seattle Times Company

Defended The Seattle Times Company in litigation filed by the Hearst Corporation regarding the Joint Operating Agreement under which the Seattle Times Company published both The Seattle Times and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The case resulted in a unanimous Washington Supreme Court decision on the threshold issue of contract interpretation. (Wash. 2005-2007) Read more

King County (Wash.) Superior Court sealed files for The Seattle Times Company

Successfully moved to open dozens of sealed court files on behalf of The Seattle Times in connection with its Pulitzer Prize-finalist investigative series, "Your Courts, Their Secrets." (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2007) Read more

Seattle Gourmet Foods, Inc. v. The Bon, Inc.

Represented former manufacturer of Frango chocolates in trademark, trade dress, trade secret and false advertising dispute involving rights to make a competing chocolate under the Frederick & Nelson trademark. Case ended in confidential settlement. (King Cnty. (Wash.) Super. Ct. 2004)

Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc.

Obtained for Columbia Pictures Television a $31.6 million jury verdict in copyright statutory damages for willful vicarious and contributory copyright infringement by the sole shareholder of three television stations which continued to broadcast Columbia’s programs after Columbia terminated the program licenses for nonpayment. Representation included two trials, three appeals to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and appearing before the U.S. Supreme Court (arguing against now Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.). Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc., 523 U.S. 340 (1998); Columbia Pictures Television v. Krypton Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc., 106 F.3d 284 (9th Cir. 1997); 152 F.3d 1171 (9th Cir. 1998); 259 F.3d 1186 (9th Cir. 2001), cert. denied 534 U.S. 1127 (U.S. 2002)

Additional Qualifications

  • Law Clerk, Attorney General of Washington, Consumer Protection Division, 1995-1996
  • Newspaper Reporter, 1989-1994

Professional & Community Activities

  • Chair, Copyright Litigation Committee, ABA IP Law Section
  • Co-editor-in-chief, Washington State Bar Association Public Records Act Deskbook (2013)
  • Past Trustee, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Northwest Chapter
  • Copyright Society of the USA: Past National Trustee; Founding Member; Past Chair – Northwest Chapter
  • Board of Directors, Washington Coalition for Open Government
  • Advertising and Commercial Speech Committee, Media Law Resource Center
  • Forum on Communications; Intellectual Property and Litigation Sections – American Bar Association
  • Guest Lecturer, "Digital Millennium Copyright Act," University of Washington School of Law, 2006

Professional Recognition

  • Selected by Best Lawyers as Seattle's "Lawyer of the Year" in First Amendment Law, 2016
  • Named as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Communications Law by Best Lawyers, 2009-present
  • Selected to "Washington Rising Stars," Thomson Reuters, 2005-2006
Available now a litigators guide to damages and other relief