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Media & the Law Seminar

Each year, the University of Kansas School of Law and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association Media Law Committee host the Media and the Law Seminar in Kansas City, along with other local events, to facilitate and encourage dialogue about the latest legal issues and developments in media, law and technology.

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The 32nd Annual Media & the Law Seminar

Let The Games Begin!
Gaming the legal system in the context of media, sports, entertainment and the First Amendment

May 2 and 3, 2019 | 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center
Kansas City, Missouri

It's all fun and games until someone gets sued. With increasing frequency, legal issues related to media, sports, entertainment and the First Amendment are coming from games — real-world football games, virtual reality video games, efforts by creative copyright trolls to game the system and more.

At this year's seminar, we will explore the impact of these issues on the media, entertainment and sports law bars and discuss how lawyers, journalists and the courts should respond.

We'll consider the unique challenges presented by video games, including IP and other legal issues in game development and distribution, problems posed by online gaming laws and issues related to virtual reality games. We'll also examine the impact that Deep Fakes can have on media practitioners and the law. We'll discuss the best ways to combat copyright trolls. We'll look at how free speech issues have permeated NFL Sundays and athletic contests at all levels due to the controversy surrounding protest activities. We hope you will join us at this year's seminar for all of this and more, including the Bonus CLE Session on Thursday, May 2, 2019 before the main seminar.


Thursday, May 2 | 4 - 5:45 p.m.

CLE Bonus Session (2 CLE hours)

Media Law: Essential Tools of the Trade

2 hours CLE 
(A program jointly sponsored by the KCMBA, and the Media, Privacy and Advertising Law Committee of the ABA/TIPS)

*Free when attending the Friday program

We’ve all been to plenty of sessions with interesting discussions about Constitutional theory, landmark cases, and the evolving media landscape. But what does being a media lawyer today look like on a daily basis? This session will go back to basics to see what practitioners are really doing – and what in-house and insurance counsel are expecting. We’ll also explore the issue of succession planning – what skills do young lawyers need to develop as they gain more responsibility, and how can seasoned veterans help them grow?

  • A refresher on the day-to-day activities of media lawyers that are not always addressed at conferences, such as pre-publication review, DMCA takedown requests, or subpoenas.
  • How to prepare the “next generation” of media lawyers for success.
  • What are in-house attorneys and insurance counsel looking for in terms of staffing and experience on smaller matters?

Leita Walker, Partner, Ballard Spahr, Minneapolis, Minnesota


  • Emily Caron, Vice President, Media Liability Claims, OneBeacon, Overland Park, Kansas
  • Natalie Harris, Partner, Mandell Menkes, Chicago, Illinois
  • Steve Mandell, Partner, Mandell Menkes, Chicago, Illinois
  • Lisa Washburn, Assistant General Counsel, Tribune Media Company, Chicago, Illinois

CLE materials for Bonus Session

Friday, May 3 | 8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.

7 CLE hours, including 1 hour of ethics
Panel 1 

“We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Rules!”: Ethical Restraints on Sources Playing the “Newsmaker” Card

Fair administration of justice is a foundation of citizens’ freedom in this country. But courts set the playing rules for what lawyers can and can’t say about the events in cases. Ethics rules in many cases are more complex than the rules of sporting events. The goal of journalists is to get what they need to advise the public about the cases. Especially in criminal cases, conflicts over facts can arise and it becomes more difficult to determine what is fair and what is foul play.

  • what ethics rules allow prosecutors to say
  • what lines must prosecutors observe in commenting on cases
  • how do these rules affect coverage of cases
  • when is truthful speech “out of bounds”

Michael A. Wolff, Senior policy advisor for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell; retired Missouri Supreme Court judge; retired professor, St. Louis University School of Law, St. Louis, Missouri  


  • Judge Edwin H. “Eddie” Smith, Shareholder, Polsinelli, St. Joseph, Missouri; former appellate judge, Western District Court of Appeals, Mo.
  • Bruce Johnson, Shareholder, Davis Wright Tremaine, Seattle, Washington
  • Dave Helling, Editorial writer/columnist, Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri

CLE materials for Panel 1

Panel 2

Social Media Control – Is the Fox Guarding the Henhouse?

Amid national controversy over the way social media platforms operate, the time has come to debate and explore how their content is and should be moderated and regulated. Noteworthy developments include a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that focused on television but may have significance beyond that medium. In Halleck v. Manhattan Community Access Corp., 882 F.3d 300 (2nd Cir. 2018), the court found that Manhattan public access television channels are the equivalent of a public forum and that their owners and employees are state actors who could be liable under the First Amendment for free speech violations in restricting or blocking content. According to the Second Circuit, “A public access channel is the electronic version of a public square.” Id. at 306. Commentators have speculated that this holding and its underlying rationale could have widespread implications for private actors whose platforms could be deemed to be public forums, including social media platforms. The Halleck case currently is subject to a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in which panelist Tamar Wise joined as an author and counsel to petitioner Manhattan Community Access Corporation, and panelist David Greene submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Issues to be discussed include.

  • Should social media content be subject to First Amendment principles that govern public forums?
  • To what degree should social media be subject to government oversight and restraint?
  • To what degree should social media entities be left to their own devices to protect individual civil liberties?
  • Should social media entities be the ultimate arbiters of “taste” and “appropriateness”? If not, how should their judgments be constrained?
  • Can’t those offended or banned by certain social media platforms simply vote with their feet?
  • Should a form of DMCA be adopted for removing allegedly defamatory speech on social media?
  • To what degree does a social media company have an obligation to remove offensive content after being put on notice of it?
  • Who determines what’s offensive?

David Greene, Senior Staff Attorney and Civil Liberties Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco, California 


  • Dave Helling, Editorial writer/columnist, Kansas City Star, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Peter Obstler, Partner, Browne George Ross LLP, San Francisco, California
  • Tamar Wise, Member, Cozen O’Connor, New York, New York

CLE materials for Panel 2

Panel 3

Games of the Boom: Navigating the Dynamic Legal Landscape of the Video Game Business

Since its inception in the. 1970s, the Video Game Industry has grown and evolved remarkably, and business is booming. Gamers around the globe are expected to spend $138 billion on video games this year. One industry analyst recently observed, "Gaming is taking market share from every other form of media. It's growing faster than movies, TV." Along with such explosive and dynamic development, the video game industry has faced many of the same legal challenges as those that the media, entertainment and sports industries have had to confront for decades. Yet the traditional claims, defenses and rights developed in these established industries do not quite play the same way in the video game arena, so legal activity is booming too. Issues to be discussed include:

  • Under what conditions may a video game avatar violate someone’s right of publicity?
  • What liability risks do video game developers face under copyright and trademark laws?
  • May video game players or developers be held accountable for defamation or other torts committed in virtual reality?
  • When may video game loot boxes be in violation of gambling laws?
  • To what extent are risk management and insurance needed, available and procured in the video game industry?

Dan Nabel, Principal Counsel, Riot Games, Los Angeles, California


  • Carolynn Beck, Partner Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, Washington, D.C.
  • Andrew J. Ungberg, Associate, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC, New York, New York

CLE materials for Panel 3

Luncheon Address

Kevin Willmott, Academy Award winner for BlacKkKlansman screenplay

Kevin Willmott is a professor in the department of Film and Media Studies at the University of Kansas. This year, as a co-writer of the screenplay for BlacKkKlansman, Professor Willmott received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Co-writers with whom he shares this honor include famed film-maker Spike Lee.

Professor Willmott and his BlacKkKlansman co-writers have received numerous other honors for their work on the film, most recently including a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) award for Best Screenplay (Adapted).

In an article about BlacKkKlansaman, Time magazine said: "The movie is based on the real story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American police officer and detective in Colorado Springs, Colo., who masterminded an undercover investigation into the local KKK chapter in 1978-9. After answering the local chapter’s recruitment ad in the newspaper, Stallworth (played in the film by John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s son) sends his colleague (Adam Driver) to the meetings in his place, while he himself chats up Duke, then the Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (played by Topher Grace), over the phone. Duke hasn’t the slightest hint of what’s going on — even when Stallworth gets assigned to be his bodyguard during a visit to Colorado Springs. (Olivia B. Waxman, The True Story Behind BlacKkKlansman, According to the Man Who Inspired the Movie (August 9, 2018)).

For Professor Willmott, when writing about an African-American police officer’s infiltration of the Klan, “Part of the challenge was making something so unbelievable, believable.” (Ellen McNamara, KU professor Kevin Willmott nominated for Oscar for work on 'BlacKkKlansman', KCTV5, Kansas City (February 21, 2019)).

Professor Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas and received his BA in Drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. After graduation, he returned home and worked as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless, and forcing the integration of several long standing segregated institutions. He attended graduate studies at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, receiving several writing awards and his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing.

The play, T-Money and Wolf, co-written with Ric Averill, which deals with the holocaust and contemporary gang violence, was selected as part of the New Vision/New Voices series produced by the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The play was published by Dramatic Publishing.

As a screenwriter Professor Willmott co-wrote Shields Green and the Gospel Of John Brown with Mitch Brian. The script was purchased by Chris Columbus' 1492 Productions for 20th Century Fox. He also co-wrote Civilized Tribes for Producer Robert Lawrence and 20th Century Fox. Producer and director Oliver Stone hired Professor Willmott to co-write Little Brown Brothers about the Philippine Insurrection. He also adapted the book Marching To Valhalla by Michael Blake for Oliver Stone.

For television, Professor Willmott co-wrote with Brian House of Getty and The 70's, both mini-series for NBC. The 70's aired in May of 2000.

Ninth Street, an independent feature film starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes, was written, produced, and co-directed by Professor Willmott. He also played the role of "Huddie," one of the film’s main characters. Ninth Street is a comedy/drama based on Professor Willmott's experiences growing up in the small town of Junction City, Kansas, adjacent to an army base. Set in 1968, the film deals with the last days of one of the most notorious streets in the nation. It was distributed by Ideal and released in November of 1999 on video and DVD.

Professor Willmott adapted The Watsons Go To Birmingham for CBS, Columbia Tri-Star and Executive Producer, Whoopi Goldberg. His film, C.S.A - The Confederate States of America is about the United States had the South won the Civil War. It was selected to for the 2004 Sundance Film festival and was distributed by IFC Films. The film was also a Spike Lee presentation and was released in theaters in February 2006. The award winning The Battle for Bunker Hill starring James McDaniel (Detroit 187), Laura Kirk (Lisa Picard is Famous), and Saeed Jaffrey (The Man who would be King) played in select cities and screened in film festivals. Professor Willmott's film, The Only Good Indian starring Wes Studi, was selected to the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has won numerous awards. It has been playing on the Starz network and is available on DVD.

Panel 4

“Deep Fakes”: Trust Not What Your Eyes Perceive

In just over 18 months, a small subculture on Reddit, focused on combing and superimposing images and videos with realistic and believable results, has exploded on to the national scene. The development of artificial intelligence-based human image synthesis techniques combined with rapid advances in machine learning has allowed creators to introduce fake videos which are increasingly difficult to distinguish from authentic videos. Issues of interest include the current state of Deep Fake technology, the impact such fake videos may have on media organizations, legal implications of such video creations, whether they enjoy any legal protections, and to provide guidance on a generally accepted way forward through these muddy waters.

  • What is a Deep Fake?
  • Where did Deep Fakes come from and how does the technology work? Why is the “off the shelf” nature of that technology dangerous? How is it different from doctored photographs?
  • How can a news organization identify altered footage, and what new procedures should be adopted to protect them from being fooled?
  • What defamation risks are posed by Deep Fakes, and is it different if they involve public versus private figures?
  • What exposure to invasion of privacy/right of publicity or copyright infringement can be embodied in Deep Fakes published by news organizations?
  • How could Deep Fakes alter the national debate of issues of the day?

Tom Williams, Partner, Haynes & Boone, Fort Worth, Texas


  • Samaruddin Stewart, Media Technologist, Daly City, California
  • Leita Walker, Partner, Ballard Spahr, Minneapolis, Minnesota

CLE materials for Panel 4

Panel 5

Full Court Press: The best strategies for combating copyright and other high-volume claimants

From large to small, media organizations seem to be under siege by demand letters and lawsuits alleging copyright infringement, right of publicity issues, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and more, often demanding enormous settlements for just a single infringement. These claims are increasingly being made by the same handful of attorneys or image licensing companies on behalf of individual rightsholders. Using image recognition software, these usual suspects track down every use of their client’s copyrighted works online and demand large settlements from each offender. Oftentimes, they file lawsuits without warning, accompanied by demands for a hundred times or more the true measure of damages, with the understanding that a defendant will pay an outsized settlement amount to avoid the cost of litigation. Of course, content creators deserve to be paid for the misuse of their works, but some attorneys have created a high-volume business of wringing extraordinarily high settlements out of innocent infringers in order to line their own pockets rather than ensuring that their clients get what they want: an amicable resolution without the wasteful expense of litigation and the burden on already-overloaded courts. This panel will share the best tips for handling demands and litigation by those claimants, including how to reach a win-win solution where the opportunity arises to resolve the matter pre-suit, how to assess and address lawsuits, and common strategies for minimizing damages. It will also explore risk avoidance so that media companies can avoid running afoul of these lawsuits in the first place.

  • What are the first steps upon receiving a demand letter or complaint?
  • What valid defenses are available?
  • What are the best litigation strategies?
  • What are the best ways to bring settlement amounts down to a reasonable range?
  • How can attorneys train clients to avoid future issues?”

Eleanor Lackman, Partner, Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP, New York, New York


  • Evynne Grover, AVP, Claims Practice Leader – Media Liability, QBE North America, New York, New York
  • Matthew C. Moschella, Partner, Sherin and Lodgen LLP, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Patricia Northrop, General Counsel, New Jersey Public Television, Englewood, New Jersey
  • Wajmah Yaqubi, Director of Rights & Clearances, BuzzFeed: The Social News and Entertainment Company, New York, New York

CLE materials for Panel 5

Panel 6

Calling Constitutional Balls and Strikes: Athletes’ Free-Speech Rights in an Era of High-Profile Political Protests

Whether it is Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem or members of the University of Missouri football team staging a boycott, there have been numerous high-profile examples in recent years of athletes speaking out against racial and social injustice, often drawing a backlash from sports fans or politicians. Drawing from a variety of perspectives, this panel will explore the First Amendment issues at stake when athletes use the fame and notoriety they have attained, by virtue of their achievements on the field, for the purpose of speaking out on societal issues. Questions to be discussed include:

  • What are the First Amendment interests at stake in the modern sporting world?
  • What limitations (both coercive and contractual) can sports organizations and other interested parties place on athletes’ speech on and off the field?
  • What differences exist between the amount of permissible regulation of athletes’ speech at the various levels of sport (professional, college, Olympic, high school, etc.)?
  • What societal factors are shaping development of the law in this area?

Bob Latham, partner, Jackson Walker, Dallas, Texas


  • John S. Black, General Counsel, National Federation of State High School Associations, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • John Collins, Partner, Collins & Collins, Chicago, Illinois
  • Caroline Kastor, former professional soccer player for FC Kansas City Blues and former KU soccer academic All-American; currently a 2L at the University of Kansas School of Law, Lawrence, Kansas

​CLE materials for Panel 6

General Information


A block of rooms has been reserved at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, 2345 McGee Street, Kansas City, Missouri. Rooms will be released at 5 p.m. April 1, 2019. After that date, room availability and rate cannot be guaranteed. To receive the special seminar rate of $182, please reserve online or by calling 866-932-6214 and mention that you are attending the University of Kansas Media and the Law Seminar.

Location & Parking

The Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center offers valet parking for $26 a day or self-parking for $19 a day to hotel guests. For those participants commuting to the seminar, the hotel can validate 3 hours of complimentary parking. The parking garage is managed by an independent company, not the Sheraton.

If you find you are unable to attend, we encourage you to send a qualified substitute and notify us ahead of time if possible. If you do need to cancel, you must send a written cancellation request on or before April 26, 2019 and you will receive a refund, minus a $50 cancellation fee. No refunds will be given after that date.

CLE Credit

A total of 7 CLE credit hours, including one hour of ethics, are approved by the Kansas CLE Commission, as well as in Missouri, New York and California. The seminar support staff will provide on-site assistance to attendees who plan to apply for CLE credit from other jurisdictions.

Kansas City Attractions

Thinking of enjoying the weekend in Kansas City after the seminar? There are attractions and events for everyone, including:

  • Crown Center: Located in the heart of downtown this city within a city offers visitors 85 acres of shops, restaurants, and theatres.
  • Country Club Plaza: One of Kansas City’s popular retail, dining and entertainment destinations within a 15-block district of fun.
  • Westport: A fusion of local eateries, fashionable boutiques and hot night spots compounded with remnants of the neighbor- hood’s historic past, this entertainment district boasts a rich history as the oldest established community in Kansas City. More than 150 years ago, Westport marked the passage into the western frontier and set the foundation for what it is today: a thriving shopping center and entertainment district.
  • Crossroads Arts District: Kansas City’s eclectic enclave hosts boutique shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, creative businesses, studios and art galleries.
  • Kansas City Power & Light District: Spread over a half-million square feet, the Kansas City Power & Light District is the Midwest’s premier entertainment epicenter. With more than 50 unique and captivating shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, the district offers something for everyone.

For additional information on the above attractions and Kansas City events, visit visitkc.com.

Program Accessibility

We accommodate persons with disabilities. Please call 785-864-5823 or mark the space on the registration form, and a KUPCE representative will contact you to discuss your needs. To ensure accommodation, please register at least two weeks before the start of the seminar. See the nondiscrimination policy below.

Refund/Cancellation Policy

A full refund of registration fees, less a $50 administrative fee, will be available if requested in writing at kupce@ku.edu and received by April 26, 2019. No refunds will be made after that date. A $30 fee also will be charged for returned checks. (Please note that if you fail to cancel by the deadline and do not attend, you are still responsible for payment.) KUPCE reserves the right to cancel the 31st Annual Media and the Law Seminar and return all fees in the event of insufficient registration. The liability of the University of Kansas is limited to the registration fee. The University of Kansas will not be responsible for any losses incurred by registrants, including but not limited to airline cancellation charges or hotel deposits.

Privacy Policy

KU Professional & Continuing Education does not share, sell or rent its mailing lists. You have our assurance that any information you provide will be held in confidence by KUPCE.

We occasionally use mailing lists that we have leased. If you receive unwanted communication from KUPCE, it is because your name appears on a list we have acquired from another source. In this case, please accept our apologies.

Nondiscrimination Policy

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.

About the Seminar

Since 1987, the Media and the Law seminar series has brought together lawyers, judges and others to discuss legal issues and trends in media, law and technology. Initiated by leadership in the Kansas City media liability insurance community, the seminar is planned by local area media lawyers, journalists and educators and coordinated by the University of Kansas Professional & Continuing Education staff. From the latest First Amendment litigation to emerging social media risks, the "hot topics" of each year are explored and debated by a panel of experts and distinguished speakers.

For questions, contact:

The University of Kansas
Edwards Campus
Professional & Continuing Education
Regents Center 125
12600 Quivira Road
Overland Park, KS 66213

Phone: 785-864-5823 or (toll free) 877-404-5823
Email: kupce@ku.edu

Thank you to our seminar contributors!

  • AXIS Insurance
  • Ballard Spahr LLP
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP
  • Cowan DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP
  • Davis Wright Tremaine
  • Duane Morris LLP
  • Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC
  • Fox Rothschild LLP
  • Greenan Peffer Sallander & Lally LLP
  • Haynes & Boone LLP
  • Jackson Walker
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
  • KU School of Law Media, Law and Technology Program
  • Larry Worrall
  • Lathrop Gage LLP
  • Mandell Menkes LLC
  • OneBeacon Entertainment
  • Prince Lobel Tye LLP
  • Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP
  • Stevens & Brand LLP
  • Thomas & LoCicero PL
  • Vedder Price
  • Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis LLP

Payment is required at the time of registration. Only registrations accompanied with payment will be accepted. Please register in advance. Fees include continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments.

Online registration is preferred, but if you need to register by phone, you can call one of our Registration Specialists at the number below:

Register by Phone
785-864-5823 or 877-404-5823 (toll free)

Register by TDD

Past Seminars

2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 20142013
2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008
2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003

Return to 2019 seminar page