(Geneva) – Akin Gump attorneys recently participated in a briefing at the Geneva Press Club, titled “Getting It Right: Fake News, Due Diligence and a Strange New World.” The program featured a discussion about the true meaning of “fake news,” looking at ways to distill the facts and know where truth and fiction diverge.
Bill Cosby’s defamation case, McKee v. Cosby, presented the Supreme Court with an interesting question: whether a purported victim of sexual misconduct’s allegation of her victimhood thrusts her to the forefront of a public debate, thus transforming her into a limited-purpose public figure and requiring that she show “actual malice” to prevail in any defamation claim.1
On Friday, YouTube announced changes to its video recommendation algorithm in an effort to “reduc[e] recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways—such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness.” YouTube committed to “tak[e] a closer look at how we can reduce the spread of content that comes close to—but doesn’t quite cross the line of—violating our Community Guidelines.”
Epic Games, creator of the popular online video game Fortnite, faces a whirl of legal challenges from the celebrities who popularized the dance moves used by its character emotes. Fortnite is free-to-play, but offers players accessories and character emotes through in-game purchases, which contributed to Epic Games achieving more than $1 billion in sales last year.
This week, the French parliament will debate proposed legislation that is designed to stop what it calls the “manipulation of information” and what is colloquially referred to as “fake news.” What differentiates this bill from similar ones currently under consideration by other countries, however, is that it would change the rules for speech in the time leading up to elections.
Parties weighing their legal options in protecting their reputations rightly should think beyond the routine defamation/libel/slander claims and look more broadly to state statutes or torts that may fit more neatly with their claims. A potentially obvious route to recovery may be making a claim under a state business conspiracy statute, but plaintiffs need to think beyond the plain language of the statute to ensure it is appropriate for their case—and, even if so, properly pled.
After filing suit last year against several researchers and an academic journal for publishing a paper (the “C17 paper”) that disagreed with his own, engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson has dropped his suit. In an FAQ document posted on his website, Jacobson defended his original claim, saying that he did not file the suit simply because he disagreed with the scientific conclusions in the C17 paper, but because the paper contained false factual statements upon which its conclusion relied.
In a decision is sure to assuage the concerns of those engaged in conducting internal investigations, the 11th Circuit ruled last month that the law firm authors of an investigative report on the culture within a professional sports team were not liable for defamation related to the report’s negative findings and opinions about one of the team’s coaches. The dismissal of the suit relied on two key holdings. First, the report’s negative conclusions were protected opinions. Second, the coach failed to make plausible allegations of actual malice required for defamation of a public figure.