Litigation & Appeals

Media / First Amendment Law

Stites & Harbison's attorneys provide counsel and advocacy for media clients and businesses regarding First Amendment and related matters. In this capacity, the firm's attorneys regularly:

  • Advise news directors, producers, or reporters about methods of obtaining stories (such as use of hidden cameras and microphones, trespass considerations, Kentucky's Open Records Act, and copyright infringement)
  • Review subpoenas and advise on responses, including opposition to subpoenas when warranted
  • Advise news directors, producers, or reporters about story content (including reviewing scripts, sometimes within minutes of airing)
  • Respond to correspondence from disgruntled viewers
  • Assist in obtaining access to court records and proceedings
  • Conduct seminars for news directors, reporters, and producers regarding legal topics of interest, such as recent cases involving the media, important defamation cases, copyright infringement and the like.

In addition, our attorneys have:

  • Successfully prosecuted an appeal of an unfavorable libel judgment
  • Advised management concerning commercial free speech issues in proposed advertising
  • Defended a claim for copyright infringement against a media defendant.

Our firm's media clients include or have included Belo Corp. and its television station subsidiary, Belo Kentucky, Inc. (WHAS-TV), the Wall Street Journal, and the CBS Television Network.

In addition to media-related matters, our firm has provided Belo Corp. and other media companies with more traditional corporate services. For example, our attorneys assisted Belo with state tax and real property issues applicable to Belo's acquisition of the Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky.

We provide regular employment law advice and representation concerning all levels of regional employment and real property matters. One example: accomplishing a street closing and obtaining zoning variances for siting several media clients’ new broadcast towers.

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Client Alerts

Amendments to Kentucky Open Records Act Set to Become Effective June 29, 2021

In its 2021 regular session, the Kentucky General Assembly passed, and ultimately overrode Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of, House Bill 312 to amend the Kentucky Open Records Act, KRS 61.870 to KRS 61.884. Effective as of June 29, 2021, among other changes, the amended Act will restrict inspection rights to Kentucky “residents,” require public agencies to accept emailed open records requests, and extend public agencies’ time for handling requests from three days to five days.

by Rachel Owsley, Luke F. Ervin, and Lucy Falkner, 2021 Summer Associate June 16, 2021