FAN FAIR

The Constitution’s framers intentionally provided the press with broad freedom, believing it necessary to the establishment of a strong, independent (if unofficial) “fourth branch” of the government.

At the end of each month, IWPA’s First Amendment network offers a roundup of free speech discussions trending in the media. Have you read about, or experienced an issue impacting First Amendment rights? Email IWPA1885@gmail.com with your tip.

Video Game Maker Fails to Get Protection from the Supreme Court under the First Amendment

EA Sports, makers of the wildly popular video game Madden NFL, petitioned the Supreme Court to review a 2013 ruling against them in a San Francisco appeals court. The petition did not go in their favor. Click the link above for the complex details of this case.

The original suit, brought forth by the NFL and NCAA football players, resulted in a $40 million dollar settlement against EA Sports for using the names and likenesses of players without financial compensation.

The SCOTUS decision to decline EA’s appeal was terse: “Without comment, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to side with Electronic Arts’ contention that it had a First Amendment right to use professional football players likenesses without their permission in one of the world’s most popular video games, Madden NFL.”

Is the Removal of Political Protestors a Violation of 1st Amendment Rights?

The 2016 presidential campaign cycle has not been short on controversy. It seems journalists have been forced to write more about the infighting and wild rhetoric than they have the actual issues that matter to voters.

One of the most hotly covered topics is the behavior of protestors, particularly those at Donald Trump rallies. A few events have ended in violence, the aggressive removal of protestors, and physical mistreatment of media members. The hyperlinked article poses questions about these events, and the impact on free speech, to several First Amendment attorneys.

“’Even on public property, there can be layers to this as a First Amendment issue,’ said Gerry Weber, an Atlanta attorney and senior staff counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights. ‘If the ejection is done by government officials or police officers acting on the request of [campaign] organizers and they’re doing it because of [the protesters] views, that presents a First Amendment problem. If it’s because of their conduct, then they can be ejected.’”

Hulk Hogan Awarded $140 million in Lawsuit Against Gawker

The former professional wrestler filed an invasion of privacy lawsuit against the tabloid website after they published a video of Hogan engaging in sexual acts. A Gawker statement argued that, “frequent public discussion of his sex life made the clip newsworthy and thus protected by the First Amendment.” The jury did not agree.

But the discussion is not over. As the article linked above notes, media companies object to the new judicial precedent: “Advocates for free speech, however, spoke up, saying that ruinous media fines were in contradiction with the First Amendment and that Gawker was well within its rights as a news site to publish interesting stories pertaining to celebrities.”