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Media & Entertainment Law

Thomas & LoCicero’s media law practice is widely known, highly respected, and committed to free speech and a free press. We represent the industry’s leading electronic and traditional publishers, as well as individual journalists, bloggers, and social media influencers on issues ranging from invasion of privacy to news gathering, from defamation to pre-publication review. Every day, we champion free speech and defend journalism.

Our firm’s Entertainment practice is interdisciplinary with transactional and litigation matters being handled for a variety of clients including film producers, authors, publishers, music industry, sports franchises, agents and others within the entertainment industry.

TLo is the leading defamation defense firm in the Southeastern United States. We’ve protected free speech and free press rights in countless defamation cases on behalf of newspapers, television stations, websites, employers, corporations, and individual speakers. Recent important cases include Medytox Solutions, Inc. v. InvestorsHub.com, Inc., 152 So. 3d 727 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) (holding that Communications Decency Act bars injunction against online speech); Gawker Media, LLC v. Bollea, 129 So. 3d 1196 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014) (reversing temporary injunction prohibiting media from publishing explicit video of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan); InvestorsHub.com, Inc. v. Mina Mar Group, Inc., 2011 WL 12506239 (N.D. Fla. June 20, 2011) (declaring foreign defamation judgment unenforceable in U.S. pursuant to federal SPEECH Act).

In court we rely upon our extensive experience and deep substantive knowledge to identify and assert a wide range of First Amendment, common law, and statutory defenses to protect your speech. We frequently file and often prevail on dispositive motions early in defamation cases, saving you time and money while permitting you to stay focused on your news and business priorities.

TLo’s commitment to free speech also extends to defending against invasion of privacy claims. In two milestone cases, we led the way in establishing precedent to minimize the negative impact of these torts. In Tyne v. Time-Warner Entertainment, Co., 901 So.2d 802 (Fla. 2005), our lawyers defended the producers of the movie The Perfect Storm against claims for commercial misappropriation / invasion of privacy and convinced the Florida Supreme Court to affirm the unfettered right of creative artists to portray and comment upon the people caught up in historical events. In Jews for Jesus, Inc. v. Rapp, 997 So. 2d 1098 (Fla. 2008), TLo represented a consortium of media leaders urging the Florida Supreme Court not to recognize the tort of false light invasion of privacy in Florida. The Court’s decision adopting our argument has greatly benefited Florida publishers, broadcasters, artists, and other speakers.

Every good news report begins with a reporter seeking information. But reporters often face obstacles in obtaining government information—from denial of access to public records, to closed meetings, to sealed judicial proceedings and records. One of TLo’s primary missions is helping our clients acquire the information necessary to report the news.

TLo attorneys have litigated many important public records, open meeting, and Freedom of Information Act cases in state and federal courts, including:

  • Bainter v. League of Women Voters of Florida, 150 So. 3d 1115 (Fla. 2014). TLo represented a consortium of media companies supporting public access to records of a political consulting firm involved in redistricting efforts.
  • NCAA v. Associated Press, 18 So. 3d 1201 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).On behalf of 23 leading media entities, TLo obtained access to NCAA records Florida State University lawyers had reviewed in the course of contesting NCAA sanctions imposed on the school.
  • CNN v. Florida Dep’t of State, 33 Med. L. Rptr. 1052 (Leon County Cir. Ct. July 1, 2004). Prior to the 2004 election, TLo secured access to Florida’s list of suspected felons purged from the voting rolls.
  • News-Press v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, 489 F.3d 1173 (11th Cir. 2007). In the aftermath of a devastating hurricane season, our lawyers litigated and won access to the addresses of disaster claimants from FEMA.
  • Chandler v. City of Sanford, 121 So. 3d 657 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012); Media General Operations, Inc. v. State, 933 So. 2d 1199 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006); Sarasota Herald-Tribune v. State, 924 So. 2d 8 (Fla. 2d DCA 2006). In numerous high-profile murder cases, TLo obtained access to public records, discovery materials, juror information, or evidence introduced at trial, which was then used in critical reporting on these trials.

 

The defense of any news story is built during the newsgathering and reporting stages. That’s why TLo lawyers are available day and night to assist our clients at these critical times. On a daily basis we provide pre-publication/pre-broadcast review of news stories for television and newspaper editors and reporters throughout Florida and across the country. We vet stories not only to identify legal risks, but also to foster and encourage the highest quality journalism.

TLo protects the integrity of journalism by opposing those who seek to turn journalists into trial witnesses. Reporters invariably find themselves thrust in the middle of high profile criminal and civil cases—monitoring court proceedings, gathering information, and interviewing witnesses, parties, and attorneys. Litigants often seek to subpoena reporters for testimony or documentary information about their newsgathering or even about confidential sources. We fight any intrusion upon our clients' newsgathering and work diligently to prevent reporters from testifying or disclosing their work product or sources.

At Thomas & LoCicero, we regularly apply a myriad of legal disciplines to the clients we serve within the entertainment industry. We frequently engage in matters that involve drafting and negotiating development and production contracts, including talent and writer agreements. Our lawyers facilitate and negotiate location releases, license agreements and appearance releases. We regularly review contracts and other legal documents to analyze rights issues or other business or legal implications relating to entertainment projects.

When litigation arises, TLo attorneys are ready to defend our clients within the entertainment industry, whether inside the courtroom or through arbitration/mediation. Our highly skilled litigators utilize sophisticated legal analysis and exceptional negotiation skills to help achieve the optimum result for our clients.

Litigation is not always the best avenue for a client to take to achieve their desired result.  When unique circumstances dictate,TLo recommends professional arbitration and mediation to resolve significant client disputes.

With more than 30 years as a civil and commercial litigator,  Gregg D. Thomas also serves as a certified federal and state court mediator.  He skillfully combines in-depth litigation experience with professional analysis skills to determine realistic assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of parties' claims and defenses. His approach to mediation derives, in part, from his many years as a civil and commercial litigator, as well as from having clerked for two federal district court judges. 

Gregg recognizes that the parties – not the mediator – settle cases. But he also believes that as a mediator he can provide the parties with an impartial and realistic perspective on their case, and a chance to put litigation behind them. As Gregg has noted, "In almost every case, the parties stand to gain by compromising. If they continue to litigate, they are more likely to lose time, money, and peace of mind."

Defamation law, invasion of privacy, and constitutional claims are the areas in which he is best known, but Gregg also has extensive real-world experience in many other fields, including business torts, contracts, deceptive and unfair trade practices, non-competition agreements, trade secrets, RICO, and Section 1983 actions.

TLo frequently arbitrates cases before the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the National Arbitration Forum (NAF) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In arbitration we seek to achieve the optimal result in an efficient and economical manner.