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Media, Internet & E-Commerce

LeClairRyan’s Media, Internet and E-Commerce Industry team is comprised of veteran attorneys who provide companies in these industries with legal counsel and representation in the full spectrum of issues – from licensing agreements to taxation matters and everything in between – they encounter on a daily basis.

Our team is truly interdisciplinary and includes litigators, intellectual property lawyers, transactional attorneys, regulatory counsel and appellate lawyers with years of experience in a variety of practice areas.

We understand the media, internet and e-commerce industries from an insider’s perspective, as our team includes a former digital medial company executive, journalist, and chief of staff to the Chairman of the Congressional Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. In addition, one team member is the incoming chair of the American Bar Association’s Cyberspace Law Committee (Business Law Section) and an advisory board member of the Digital Archive of the Birth of the Dot Com Era.

Our distinctive strengths include:

  • Transactional agreements
  • Privacy and data security
  • Media libel and privacy
  • Cloud computing
  • Intellectual property
  • Consumer protection and antitrust
  • Company formation and organization
  • Acquisitions and mergers
  • Financing transactions
  • Debt or equity offerings
  • Taxation
  • Labor and employment
  • Immigration
  • Bankruptcy
  • Alternative dispute resolution and arbitration
  • Litigation

Client-Tailored Transactional Agreements

We frequently develop and negotiate key technology agreements pertaining to core infrastructure and processing services; cloud-based services, software and applications; and online advertising services involving ad networks, ad exchanges, search engine marketing vendors, and other interactive advertising services.

Our attorneys also regularly advise clients on cyber liability issues as they pertain to transactional agreements for a diverse group of clients, including large cable television companies, video programming service providers, broadcast television stations, and internet content providers and distributors.

Representative experience includes:

  • Representing media companies in negotiating and drafting partnership agreements with content and applications services providers across clients’ websites and interactive services
  • Negotiating transactions with ad networks, ad exchanges and advertising technology partners on behalf of a major automotive listings site
  • Representing a major media company in negotiations with hosted service vendors for back-end solutions including contractor on-boarding, succession planning, human resources management and advertising, and advertising sales and pricing management
  • Representing a start-up provider of internet protocol-based content management and streaming on-demand services in its negotiations with cable and internet protocol television distributors, video programming providers and technology partners
  • Representing clients in negotiating core agreements with large financial services processing vendors and providers of online and mobile banking services
  • Representing a major cable television company in acquiring mobile applications for a wireless data platform
  • Representing a major aggregator of nonprofit organization information in transactions with processing vendors, donation platform vendors and content partners
  • Representing a major cable television company in negotiating a deal to enable the streaming of local sports content to customers via a customized website
  • Negotiating a development deal for iPhone and other smart phone applications on behalf of a client operating a local, interactive “coupon” site
  • Representing a major newspaper group and numerous magazines in deals for the distribution of content
  • Drafting website and interactive product user agreements, terms of use and privacy policies
  • Drafted website development agreements and website contribution agreements for custom development and interactive advertising agency clients
  • Created series of custom website contribution agreements for networks of bloggers participating in new competitive market intelligence services company

Privacy, Data Security and Information Law

We offer clients an multidisciplinary team of attorneys focused on privacy, data protection, information security, trade secrets, software copyrights and computer security law, including requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, CAN-SPAM Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Communications Decency Act, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and other federal and state laws.

Representative experience includes:

  • Litigating one of the earliest cases arising under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (47 USC 230): Does v. Franco Productions, et al., 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8645 (N.D. Ill. June 21, 2000) (case of first impression holding that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act immunized website hosting companies from various tort claims)
  • Advised several new online service providers on website terms of use, privacy policies and data security compliance
  • Successfully avoiding and resolving claims in federal computer fraud and abuse cases containing cyber liability issues
  • Serving as national coverage counsel for a major insurance carrier on cyber liability matters and working with other carriers on data breach issues
  • Representing major personal computer manufacturer in copyright and trade secret litigation involving online product advisor used on commercial website
  • Representing internet entrepreneur in copyright case involving pirated Facebook application
  • Representing defense contractor in software copyright infringement case involving the software that forms the hub of the Army’s tactical internet and passes targeting data among airborne weapons platforms
  • Consulting with, advising, and successfully resolving potential criminal and civil liability for alleged cyberstalking and defamation arising from employee postings on social networking site
  • Authoring a chapter on data security statutes and law in a widely-read treatise on data security and privacy law

Media Libel and Privacy

Our media attorneys represent national, state and local newspapers, publishers, reporters, editors, and radio and television broadcasters and stations in libel and privacy lawsuits at both the trial and appellate levels. We conduct pre-publication reviews and provide advice on civil, criminal and grand jury subpoenas, retraction demands, access, the Freedom of Information Act, reporter’s privilege, and all other First Amendment matters relating to the editorial content of newspapers and broadcasts.

Representative experience includes:

  • Hatfill v. Mukasey, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 5755 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 11, 2008) (securing emergency stay of order holding reporter in contempt for refusing to reveal confidential sources; expedited briefing of novel issues involving reporter’s privilege)
  • Pokorski v. Gannett Co., Inc., 2009 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 9752 (4th Dep’t Dec. 30, 2009) (affirming lower court decision granting motion to dismiss libel and invasion of privacy claims brought by former town mayor, attorney and village clerk against television station and reporters)
  • Church v. The Ithaca Journal, et al., Case No. 07-0416 (Tompkins County, New York) (successful motion to dismiss defamation suit on the basis that it was barred by statute of limitations and that the article was privileged as a fair and accurate report of court records)
  • Crooker v. Gannett News Service d/b/a USA Today, Case No. 08-1150G (Suffolk County, Massachusetts) (successful motion to dismiss defamation suit on the basis that an article about the plaintiff’s indictment was privileged as a fair and accurate report of an official government press release)
  • Shreibman v. The Daily News Journal, et al., Case No. 51803 (Rutherford County, Tennessee) (successful motion for summary judgment on the ground that the challenged article was a fair report or that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the newspaper had acted with the type of reckless disregard for the truth that a public-figure libel plaintiff must establish)
  • Celia v. Gannett Co., Inc., et al., Case No. 23-C-02-0330 (Worcester County, Maryland) (prevailing on summary judgment on the basis of fair report privilege)
  • Condit v. USA Today, Case No. 03-863 (D.N.M.) (successfully arguing that the federal court lacked jurisdiction over the defendant newspaper in a libel suit brought by former Congressman Gary Condit’s wife)
  • Hedges v. Daily News Journal, Case No. ATL-L-2748-07 (Atlantic County, New Jersey) (briefing on novel issue involving whether fair report privilege applies to reports of pleadings that have not been acted upon by the court)
  • Representing parties in numerous cases involving alleged defamation on the internet
  • Advising medical group and magazines regarding analysis of potential defamation issues and other claims pertaining to unflattering internet postings on social networking sites and internet forums
  • Editing a survey of District of Columbia libel law, which is included in an annual 50-state survey published by the Media Law Resource Center

Cloud Computing

As more services and applications move to the internet or the “cloud,” it is critical that clients address issues such as reliability, access to and ownership of critical business information, portability of data and information, business continuity, and data security.

Our attorneys regularly handle such issues, helping our clients to assess their risks and understand relevant privacy and data security regulations as well as structuring transactions to minimize their exposure, including cloud computing insurance coverage issues.

Additional representative matters:

  • Counsel to Gannett Co., Inc. in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding of Kmart Corp.; negotiated modification, assumption, and cure ($12 million) of advertising agreement
  • Represented portfolio of traditional broadcast properties in commercial lending transactions ranging from $5 million to $20 million
  • Represented new media investment company investor in $1 million to $5 million seed, Series A, Series B, and Series C investments in online advertising and ecommerce companies
  • Represented online retail portal in $25 million seed, Series A equity financing rounds with angel investors
  • Advised children's new media and educational entertainment company in music licensing, character merchandising, and copyright and trademark protection strategies for new educational short films and DVDs
  • Represented online shoe retailer in $5 million reverse triangular merger with leading online provider of bags and accessories
  • Counseling businesses on matters related to the protection of intellectual property rights over the internet
  • Represented offshore cable television company in satellite piracy action brought by major motion picture studios
  • Obtained favorable judgment and $500,000 award of attorneys’ fees for nationwide publishing company from former employee who violated covenant not to compete
  • Represent national corporations before U.S. Congress and state and local governments on issues related to internet taxation


  • Industry Team Leader