Williams & Connolly has extensive experience representing media and entertainment clients in all types of litigation, dating back to the founding of the firm. We have represented some of the largest media companies in the industry, including The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CNN, News Corp., Fox Television Stations, Inc., 21st Century Fox, Fox News, Time, HBO, The Walt Disney Co., Paramount Pictures, the Atlantic Monthly, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and Google. And we continue to represent global media and entertainment companies, including major newspapers, news magazines, television networks, book publishers, motion picture studios, technology companies, and individual journalists and artists, in every type of litigation in courts across the country—from defamation defense to intellectual property to antitrust and government investigations.
In a well-known and unique part of its practice, Williams & Connolly also represents more than 250 fiction and non-fiction authors. The firm assists an author with the preparation of a proposal, identifies and approaches appropriate publishers, negotiates a deal, and finalizes a publishing agreement, as well as subsidiary rights, movie deals, dramatization rights, and ancillary rights. The firm handles a wide variety of book projects, including best-selling novels, non-fiction works by journalists, business books, how-to and inspirational books, and autobiographies by former government officials, foreign leaders, and entertainment personalities.
As the media and entertainment industry has grown to include digital media, our attorneys are well equipped to handle the novel challenges that arise in this space, with particular experience representing major online service providers in antitrust litigation, government investigations, and licensing disputes.
Some of our most significant recent matters have included representing:
- ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC as plaintiffs in a copyright infringement action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that the defendants committed massive copyright infringement in operating an unauthorized internet broadcast television retransmission service.
- HBO in the first major defamation case to go to verdict against a national television broadcaster in years, where a major soccer ball manufacturer asserted that an investigative segment on HBO's “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” falsely portrayed the company as using, or turning a blind eye to the use of, child labor in the manufacture of soccer balls in India. After a four-week trial—and only five hours of deliberations—the jury returned a verdict in HBO’s favor.
- Amazon in class action litigation brought against Amazon and the major book publishers alleging various antitrust claims arising out of the distribution and sale of print books.
- The Washington Post and CNN against defamation actions brought by former Congressman Devin Nunes.
- An executive of a media company in an enforcement proceeding brought by the SEC in federal district court.
- ABC and three of its journalists in a high-visibility defamation case involving “World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer,” where plaintiffs asserted claims of libel, product disparagement, and tortious interference with business relations arising out of news reports concerning their product.
- HBO and John Oliver in a defamation suit brought by a coal company concerning a segment of “Last Week Tonight.”
- Google and YouTube in consolidated patent infringement actions filed in the Southern District of New York concerning YouTube’s Content ID system.
- A prominent American journalist in a libel suit brought by a Second Amendment advocacy group that objected to its portrayal in a documentary about gun control.
- News Corp in a four-year Department of Justice (“DOJ”) investigation relating to alleged payments by one of News Corp’s foreign subsidiaries; the firm’s work in this matter involved a review of the company’s compliance programs on four different continents and advice on the creation and execution of global compliance program enhancements.
- A multinational Fortune 100 media company in a Securities and Exchange Commission Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation relating to alleged corruption in connection with tax proceedings in India.
First Amendment Litigation (Nationwide), Chambers USA, 2021-2022
Media & Entertainment (D.C.), Chambers USA, 2004-2022
Media & Entertainment: Litigation, The Legal 500, 2018-2022
“Media & Entertainment Practice Group of the Year,” Law360, 2021
First Amendment & Media Practice Earns Top Rankings from Chambers 2023
Washingtonian Names 13 Williams & Connolly Lawyers to its Top Lawyer Hall of Fame