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Robert D. Balin

Rob Balin represents clients in all aspects of media law, including defamation, privacy, news gathering torts, First Amendment issues, copyright and trademark litigation, and contracts. Rob handles complex litigation for multinational and national corporations, including publishers, broadcasters, and new media.

Rob's clients include: 02138 magazine, adidas, Farrar Straus & Giroux, Thomas Friedman, Henry Holt and Company, Random House, Reader's Digest, St. Martin's Press, Woman's World, Yellow Book USA, and Sing Tao Daily.

Representative Experience

Asia TV USA Ltd. v. Kamran International Trade Limited

Representing five television broadcasters and DISH Network in copyright and trademark infringement action against manufacturer and distributor of “Crown IPTV” set-top box. (E.D.N.Y. Ongoing)

Huizenga v. NYP Holdings, Inc., et al.

Defending NYP Holdings Inc., the publisher of the New York Post, against allegations that an article reporting on the television series "The Biggest Loser" defamed plaintiff. (S.D.N.Y. Ongoing)

Higginbotham v. City of New York

Filed amici brief on behalf of a group of over 60 media organizations in the case of a video journalist who was arrested while filming police officers arresting an Occupy Wall Street protester in Zuccotti Park, urging the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to finally weigh in on this important issue, and hold that the public and press have a First Amendment right to record police officers in public places. (2017)

Murray v. Public Citizen

Defended Public Citizen, pro bono, against a libel suit brought by Murray Energy Corporation and its CEO, Robert Murray, over a radio ad criticizing Murray Energy for filing lawsuits to block federal regulations aimed at protecting public health and reducing carbon pollution. Amicably resolved. (Ct. of Common Pleas, Belmont County, Ohio, 2015)

Oleniak v. Slaton, et al.

Defended book publishers and authors in libel suit arising out of memoir-style book about one author’s search for her birth parents. The plaintiff alleged that, among other things, the book falsely identifies him as the author’s birth father. Successfully secured dismissal on ground that the challenged statements are protected opinion based on disclosed facts and not capable of a defamatory meaning. (N.Y. App. 2015)

Company Doe v. Tenenbaum

Represented a coalition of news organizations, as amici curiae in support of the unsealing of documents and docket entries in litigation in the District of Maryland between an anonymous company and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) over a report of a possible product defect submitted for inclusion in the CPSC’s online database of consumer complaints. Sealing order reversed.  749 F.3d 246 (4th Cir. 2014)

Rakofsky v. The Washington Post Co., et al.

Represented the Washington City Paper, its parent company, and reporter, in a lawsuit arising out of a criminal trial in Washington, D.C., which culminated in the withdrawal of defense counsel and a mistrial. Defense counsel in that case sued about 80 defendants for libel and other claims based on their publication of news articles and commentary on his representation of his client in the criminal trial. The court granted our motion to dismiss based on the fair report privilege, lack of jurisdiction and other grounds. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2015)

Weisfeld v. Macmillan Publishing, et al.

Currently defending book publishers and author of biography in libel suit brought by former manager of deceased rap star Ol' Dirty Bastard. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Ongoing)

ACLU v. Office of Director of National Intelligence, et. al.

Secured for national civil liberties organization a federal court order in 2011 requiring more detailed explanation from agencies that withheld records under the Freedom of Information Act relating to intelligence community's use of sweeping electronic surveillance powers under the 2008 FISA Amendments Act. (S.D.N.Y. 2011)

Datz v. Milton et al.

Represented photojournalist Philip Datz in a civil-rights lawsuit against Suffolk County Police Sergeant Michael Milton and the County of Suffolk for violation of Mr. Datz’s First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Mr. Datz, a professional photojournalist, was arrested by Sergeant Milton for filming a scene of police activity from a public street, in the presence of other bystanders. The confrontation was captured on video by Mr. Datz and was widely circulated following the incident. Mr. Datz has brought federal civil rights and state-law claims against Sergeant Milton, as well as a Monell claim against the County of Suffolk and its police department. Amicably resolved; settlement included changes to department policy and training explicitly recognizing First Amendment right to record police activity. (E.D.N.Y. 2014)

Eric Abakporo v. New York Daily News

Defended Daily News in a libel action that arose from a hard-hitting investigative article in the New York Daily News, harshly criticizing the plaintiff for convincing a widow to sell an apartment building for millions less than market value. Plaintiff brought a pro se libel suit, and the court granted pre-answer dismissal of the complaint. (2012)

Fox v. Nature America

Defended Nature Biotechnology magazine in libel suit brought by author based on opinion piece that provided a critical review of the plaintiff's book. Case was settled. (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010)

Time Inc., et al. v. Budd, et al.

Represented magazine publishers in copyright and trademark infringement action against website described as "Napster for the magazine industry." (S.D.N.Y. 2008)

Zhejiang Willing Animal Byproducts Processing Co.

Currently advising U.S.-based international newspaper that has been sued in the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court for libel arising out of an Internet article about tainted heparin used in pharmaceutical products. (Ongoing)

Love v. Kwitny

Defended publisher St. Martin's Press and author in defamation and copyright infringement suit arising from extensive use of plaintiff's unpublished manuscript in book on U.S. foreign policy. Secured summary judgment dismissing defamation claims. After trial on copyright claim, damages of less than $2,000 awarded and injunctive relief denied.

Grieco v. Woman's World Magazine

Represented magazine in successfully dismissing libel and invasion of privacy claims arising from use of stock house photo to illustrate article about divorce.

Bachchan v. India Abroad

Established first precedents in federal and state courts refusing to enforce British libel judgments as repugnant to U.S. public policy. 154 Misc.2d 228, 585 N.Y.S.2d 661 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1992)

Matusevitch v. Telnikoff

Established first precedents in federal and state courts refusing to enforce British libel judgments as repugnant to U.S. public policy; 702 A.2d 230 (Md. 1997); 159 F.3d 636 (D.C. Cir. 1998)

Chinese Freemasons v. Sing Tao Daily

Secured dismissal of libel claims against Chinese-language newspaper based on advertisements on grounds that statements in suit were not defamatory, constituted opinions, and were not of or concerning plaintiffs.

Video-Cinema Films v. CNN

Successfully defended CNN in copyright infringement suit arising from CNN's use of film clip in newscast about death of actor Robert Mitchum. Secured summary judgment dismissing claims on fair use grounds and award of attorneys' fees against plaintiff. (S.D.N.Y. 2004)

Harmatz v. Reader's Digest

Defended Reader's Digest against copyright infringement and theft of idea claims arising from magazine article on celebrity philanthropy that plaintiff alleged was based on ideas in his unsolicited submission. Suit voluntarily withdrawn by plaintiff after motion to dismiss and for sanctions was filed. (D.N.J. 2005)

Hampton v. Guare

Successfully defended author, movie studio and publisher in commercial misappropriation claim arising from dramatization of plaintiff's exploits in the satiric play "Six Degrees of Separation." Established that satire and fiction do not constitute advertising or trade. 600 N.Y.S.2d 57 (N.Y. App. Div. 1st Dept. 1993)

Liu v. Sing Tao Daily

Successfully defended newspaper in libel suit arising from news report about plaintiff's arrest for illegal fortune telling. Secured pre-answer dismissal of complaint on ground that the statements in suit constituted fair and accurate report of judicial proceedings.

Miller v. Holtzbrinck Publishers

Successfully defended publisher and co-author of novel against claims of fraudulent inducement, conversion and tortious interference by plaintiff who alleged that novel plagiarized plaintiff's manuscript. Case was dismissed. 2010 WL 1932322 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) v. Henry Holt and Company

Successfully defended publisher and co-author of novel against claims of fraudulent inducement, conversion and tortious interference by plaintiff who alleged that novel plagiarized plaintiff's manuscript. Case was dismissed. 2010 WL 1932322 (S.D.N.Y. 2008)

Miracle v. Holtzbrinck Publishers Holdings, LLC

Defended book publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux and author Thomas Friedman in copyright infringement suit arising from use of plaintiff's artwork on cover of best-selling book, "The World is Flat." Case settled with licensing arrangement.

State of Oklahoma v. Blockbuster Videos, Inc.

Represented Blockbuster Videos in securing dismissal of civil proceeding brought by Oklahoma County District Attorney for declaratory judgment that the Academy Award-winning movie "The Tin Drum" constituted child pornography. (W.D. Okla. 1998)

The Procter & Gamble Co. v. Bankers Trust

Represented Business Week in successfully overturning a prior restraint against publication of sealed court records. (6th Cir. 1996)

Mumia Abu-Jamal v. St Martin's Press

Successfully opposed motion of death row inmate seeking to preliminarily enjoin St. Martin's Press from publishing book about his case. (S.D.N.Y. 2001)

H.M. Suharto v. Time Inc Asia

Represented 26 international media companies, non-governmental organizations, journalist associations and bar associations in submitting a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court of Indonesia to apply libel standards followed in other modern democracies and reverse a large libel judgment awarded to the former president of Indonesia against Time Magazine. Judgment reversed. (2009)

Liu Tai Ying v. Ying Chan

Successfully represented Chinese-American journalist in securing dismissal of criminal libel charges in landmark decision that recognized important protections for the press under Taiwan's constitution.

Shin Corp. v. Supinya Klangnarong

Led amici effort by international media lawyers that helped secure dismissal of criminal libel charges lodged against media advocate and Thai newspaper that had criticized company controlled by family of Thailand's prime minister.

Summit Media v. City of Los Angeles

Representing Clear Channel Outdoor in litigation pending in the Central District of California concerning Los Angeles outdoor advertising ordinances. (Ongoing)

Diaz v. NBC Universal, Inc.

Defended Universal Pictures in obtaining dismissal of libel class action based on the film 'American Gangster,' obtained dismissal of all claims, which was affirmed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. (S.D.N.Y. 2009, 2d Cir 2010) Read more

Surf City Enterprises v. The Daily Orange, et al.

First Amendment defense for a student publication against allegations of defamation. Case settled. (Sup. Ct. Onondaga Cty. 2009) Read more

Tucson v. Clear Channel Outdoor

First Amendment challenge under 'Central Hudson' to the validity of municipal regulations in the light of the municipalities' decision to offer advertising in a variety of government-owned and controlled property. This case was settled. (Pima Cnty. (Ariz.) Sup. Ct. 2008)

ConnectU, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc.

Successfully represented magazine 02138 when Facebook sought to compel removal of sealed documents about its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, from the magazine’s website; court rejected as unconstitutional prior restraint. Successful defense by attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine led a federal judge to reject the company’s request for a court order to take down the material. 2008 WL 2330992 (D. Mass. 2008) Read more

Break The Cycle v. adidas America

Defended adidas America in trademark infringement suit arising from use of plaintiff charity's trade name and logo in nationwide advertising. Case settled. (S.D.N.Y. 2006)

Renco Group, Inc. v. Workers World Party, Inc.

Successful defense of Workers World newspaper in defamation action brought by holding company owner of steel plants arising from two articles referring to plaintiff robbing its subsidiary's pension fund. 102875/06 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2006) Read more

Verizon Directories Corp. v. Yellow Book USA, Inc.

Represented Yellow Book USA in a false advertising and product disparagement action brought by Verizon Directories Corp. concerning Yellow Book's advertisements and sales practices. Secured dismissal of product disparagement claim and successfully settled false advertising claim. 338 F. Supp. 2d 422 (approving settlement) and 309 F. Supp. 2d 401 (granting in part motion to dismiss) (E.D.N.Y. 2004)

Woon Ng, Chinese Freemasons Grand Lodge of USA et al. v. Sing Tao Daily

Successful defense of newspaper Sing Tao Daily in defamation action arising out of an organizational dispute between two lodges of the Chinese Freemasons. (2004)

Professional & Community Activities

  • Adjunct Professor, Media Law, Columbia Law School
  • Communications and Media Law Committee, International Bar Association
  • Forum on Communications Law, American Bar Association
  • Media Law Committee, New York City Bar Association
  • Libel Letter Committee, Media Defense Resource Center

Professional Recognition

  • Named one of "America's Leading Lawyers for Business" in First Amendment Litigation (Nationwide) by Chambers USA, 2012-2018; Media & Entertainment: First Amendment Litigation (New York), 2017 
  • Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Media Law by Best Lawyers, 2011-present
  • Selected to "New York Super Lawyers," Thomson Reuters, 2006-2009, 2011, 2013-2017
  • National Press Photographers Association, Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit, 2014