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Past Project

Digital Media Law Project

Founded in 2007 as the "Citizen Media Law Project," the Digital Media Law Project (DMLP) works to ensure that individuals and organizations involved in online journalism and digital media have access to the legal resources, education, tools, and representation that they need to thrive.

The DMLP carries out its mission through five core initiatives: (1) its detailed Legal Guide on media and business law topics for non-lawyers; (2) its searchable Database of Legal Threats directed at online publishers; (3) its nationwide attorney referral service, the Online Media Legal Network; (4) its Research & Response initiative to address breaking issues and trends in digital media law; and (5) its regularly-updated Blog and Newsletter on current issues in media law, technology law and journalism

Legal Guide: The DMLP publishes a comprehensive legal guide for individuals and organizations involved in independent online publishing and journalism.  The guide covers topics ranging from how to form a business to how to use freedom of information and open meetings laws to get access to information, meetings, and governmental records, as well as other legal subjects such as risks associated with online publication, including discussion of defamation and privacy torts; legal issues related to newsgathering; use of copyrighted and trademarked materials; and special risks associated with covering elections.

The Legal Guide now runs to more than 600 pages and covers the fifteen most populous U.S. states and the District of Columbia. Users of the guide can search by keyword, browse by state, or simply browse by section. The guide is broken into six major sections:  

    Forming a Business and Getting Online;
    Dealing with Online Legal Risks;
    Newsgathering and Privacy;
    Access to Government Information;
    Intellectual Property; and
    Risks Associated with Publication.

The DMLP selects the topics covered by the Legal Guide to address the issues that content creators and publishers routinely encounter in the course of forming and running their ventures.  In addition to serving as a reference for individuals seeking help, the Legal Guide is often used by university journalism programs and other publishing organizations as a key resource.

Database of Legal Threats: The DMLP publishes a database of more than 900 entries covering lawsuits, subpoenas, and other legal actions involving digital media and online speech. Each entry consists of a plain-language description of the case or threat and links to blog or press coverage.  Most entries also contain the underlying documents, including copies of cease-and-desist letters, lawsuit complaints, legal briefs, and court orders.

The database is publicly searchable by keyword and by more than 25 distinct data fields, including by state, legal claim, type of publisher, subject area, and date of filing.  Users of the database can also do full-text searching of the pleadings and motions associated with each database entry. If you've been threatened with legal action or know of someone who has, please let us know by using our contact form or by entering the information directly into the database through our easy to use threat entry form.

Legal Assistance: The DMLP operates the Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), which is a network of more than 250 law firms, law school clinics, in-house counsel, and individual lawyers throughout the United States willing to provide free and reduced-fee legal assistance to qualifying online journalism ventures and other digital media creators.  Since its inception, the DMLP has assisted clients with hundreds of separate matters. Lawyers and clinical law students at Harvard Law School's Cyberlaw Clinic also provide legal advice to individuals and organizations that operate independent media sites.  

Research and Response: Our central vantage point on issues affecting the journalism industry enables us to detect urgent issues affecting digital journalism as they arise. Our attorney and client networks, together with our tracking of legal threats, serve as an "early warning system" for urgent legal needs affecting the digital journalism community. This permits us to respond with relevant information and legal resources in an informed and timely manner, collaborating with our wide array of partner organizations where appropriate.

The Research and Response initiative reflects the flexibility of the DMLP to address these important issues. Rather than responding in a uniform fashion to issues as they arise, we recognize that responses to breaking issues must be tailored to the particular issue at hand. To that end we have created a range of white papers and issue guides, participated in litigation as an amicus curiae, appeared at conferences and speaking events, acted in an advisory capacity to various groups, and addressed the media on issues of current interest.

DMLP Publishing: The DMLP blog includes content from DMLP staff as well as a diverse group of lawyers, law professors, law students, and others with an interest in new media.  Blog posts provide commentary and insight on current events in media law and digital publishing, promote resources and events of interest to digital publishers, and announce new initiatives by the DMLP and its partner organizations.  The DMLP blog is a popular destination for site visitors, with individual posts routinely obtaining hundreds or thousands of reads.

The Digital Media Law Brief, our monthly newsletter, keeps our followers up to date with our recent activities, our upcoming events, and news items of interest in the fields of media law, journalism, and technology. If you want to find out what the DMLP is doing and what it is going to do next, the newsletter is the best place to go.

The DMLP also maintains an active social media presence, with accounts on Twitter at @DMLPBerkman and @omln, and a page on Facebook.

This project is supported in part by the Open Society Institute, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Philip L. Graham Fund.


Publications 03

Jun 4, 2014

Who Gets a Press Pass?

Media Credentialing Practices in the United States

This study, the first of its kind to perform a quantitative examination of media credentialing in the United States, surveys the experience of journalists throughout the country… More

Apr 2, 2012

Guide to the IRS Decision-Making Process under Section 501(c)(3) for Journalism and Publishing Non-Profit Organizations

Until and unless there is action in Congress to facilitate tax exemptions for journalism non-profits, news organizations seeking 501(c)(3) status must learn how to structure their… More

Aug 30, 2010

The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices

This white paper attempts to answer the question of whether news aggregators violate current law by examining the hot news misappropriation and copyright infringement claims that… More


News 61

Jun 5, 2014

New Report from the DMLP: Who Gets a Press Pass? Media Credentialing Practices in the United States

The Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Journalist’s Resource project at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media,… More

Apr 14, 2014

Service and Research at the Frontier of Media Law

New Report from the Digital Media Law Project

Earlier today the Digital Media Law Project released a new report, The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals. This report… More

Sep 12, 2013

Digital Media Law Project Announces a New Survey of Media Credentialing Practices

The Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, together with the Investigative News Network, the National Press Photographers… More

Jul 9, 2013

DMLP files brief seeking First Amendment scrutiny in United States v. Auernheimer

Yesterday the Digital Media Law Project, with help from the Cyberlaw Clinic, filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in United States v… More

Mar 4, 2013

The DMLP Asks the Sixth Circuit to Safeguard Crowdsourced Research and Data-based Journalism

The Digital Media Law Project (formerly the Citizen Media Law Project), assisted by Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, has asked the Sixth Circuit to make clear that website… More

Mar 1, 2013

The Citizen Media Law Project is now the Digital Media Law Project

We are pleased to announce that the Citizen Media Law Project has now transitioned to its new name, the Digital Media Law Project. More

Aug 23, 2012

Announcing a Guide to Reporting at the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions

This guide is intended to be a resource for journalists that will be covering the events surrounding the Republican and Democratic National Conventions (“RNC” and “DNC”)… More

Apr 2, 2012

DMLP Guide to the IRS Decision-Making Process under Section 501(c)(3) for Journalism and Publishing Non-Profit Organizations

The Digital Media Law Project (DMLP), hosted at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is pleased to announce the publication of its Guide to the Internal… More

Jan 27, 2012

DMLP Advocates Protection for Uses of Trademarks in Critical Speech Online Before Massachusetts Appeals Court

The Digital Media Law Project (DMLP), assisted by Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, last week asked the Massachusetts Appeals Court to reject a claim of trademark infringement… More

Jul 1, 2011

Berkman Buzz: July 1, 2011

Measuring the impact of journalism, reviewing Google+, who to trust online, and more...in this week's Buzz. More

Feb 11, 2011

CMLP Urges First Circuit to Safeguard First Amendment Rights in Case Involving Cellphone Camera Recording of Police Officers

The Citizen Media Law Project submitted an amicus curiae brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in a case involving a lawyer who was arrested for using… More

Feb 9, 2011

Berkman Center’s Online Media Legal Network Partners with Investigative News Network

The Online Media Legal Network announced that it is collaborating with the Investigative News Network to help INN member organizations find pro bono and low-cost legal help. More

Aug 31, 2010

Citizen Media Law Project & Center for Sustainable Journalism Conference on Media Law in the Digital Age

We're pleased to announce that the Citizen Media Law Project and the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University are co‐hosting a conference on September 25,… More

Jul 1, 2010

Getting empirical with Section 230 case law

Tired of discussing intermediary liability? Neither are we. Fellow David Ardia's study of all CDA section 230 cases to date is now available in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law… More

Jun 22, 2010

Berkman Center’s Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic Advocate First Amendment Scrutiny in Hot News Cases

The Citizen Media Law Project, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Public Citizen, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit,… More

May 6, 2010

New Hampshire Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech Rights for Online News Sites

Ruling Mirrors Arguments Made in Brief by the Citizen Media Law Project, Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The NH Supreme Court today issued an important decision upholding the First Amendment rights of online publishers...the Court concluded that a lower court’s injunction preventing… More

Mar 4, 2010

CMLP and Cyberlaw Clinic Call On Illinois Supreme Court to Preserve Broad Purpose of Citizen Participation Act

The Citizen Media Law Project, joined by the Public Participation Project, the Online News Association, and the Chicago Current, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Illinois… More

Feb 1, 2010

OMLN Partners with National Freedom of Information Coalition to Assist with Freedom of Information Lawsuits

The Berkman Center’s Online Media Legal Network (OMLN) announced today that it is partnering with the National Freedom of Information Coalition to assist with freedom of… More

Jan 5, 2010

OMLN Partners with Online News Association To Provide Legal Assistance to Independent Journalists

The Online Media Legal Network announced that it is partnering with the Online News Association, the premier association for professional digital journalists. The partnership will… More

Dec 17, 2009

Citizen Media Law Project Publishes New Guide to FTC Disclosure Requirements for Product Endorsements

As part of their legal guide series on Risks Associated with Publication, today CMLP published a guide to Publishing Product or Service Endorsements. More

Nov 19, 2009

Citizen Media Law Project Launches Legal Assistance Network for Online Journalists

The Berkman Center’s Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) announced today the public launch of its Online Media Legal Network (OMLN), a new pro bono initiative that connects lawyers… More

Oct 28, 2009

It's Election Time Again: CMLP Announces Updated Guide to Newsgathering at the Polls

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog: Voters head to the polls again on November 3 to cast their ballots in mayoral, city council, and even a handful of gubernatorial elections… More

Oct 5, 2009

CMLP and Cyberlaw Clinic Endorse Anti-SLAPP Protection for Staff of Media and Advocacy Organizations

On Thursday, the Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) joined the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston… More

Sep 17, 2009

Radio Berkman 130: Adventures in Anonymity, Part One

This week on Radio Berkman: Dan Jones discusses the ins and outs of a growing number of legal cases involving anonymous online speech with Sam Bayard, assistant director of the… More

Jul 27, 2009

Citizen Media Law Project: more on newsgathering and privacy

The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) has released a new video about newsgathering and privacy issues that citizen reporters might face as they gather documents, take photographs… More

Jul 23, 2009

CMLP and Cyberlaw Clinic Amicus Brief in the News

In an editorial published earlier this week, the Nashua Telegraph highlighted an amicus brief filed last month by Berkman’s Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) with the assistance… More

Jun 29, 2009

Citizen Media Law Project partners with YouTube to help launch Reporters' Center

From the CMLP blog: "As part of today's launch of YouTube's Reporters' Center, which features how-to videos on news reporting, the Citizen Media Law Project created a short video… More

Jun 23, 2009

Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic Urge NH Supreme Court to Defend First Amendment Rights of Mortgage Site

The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP), assisted by Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, urged the New Hampshire Supreme Court to defend the First Amendment rights of a website… More

May 14, 2009

CMLP: Craigslist Dropping 'Erotic Services' Section

David Ardia, director of the Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP), unpacks the issues around Craigslist's decision to replace its "Erotic Services" category... More

Apr 29, 2009

Radio Berkman: Journalism Is Dead. Long Live Journalism!

This week on Radio Berkman: Dan Gillmor offers his vision for a participatory media, with five principles for 21st century journalism... More

Mar 25, 2009

Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic Lead Amicus Effort Promoting Rights of Anonymous Online Speakers in IL

In a case involving important First Amendment rights, the Citizen Media Law Project joined a number of media and advocacy organizations in asking an Illinois appellate court to… More

Mar 6, 2009

Debating CDA 230

An exchange between John Palfrey and Adam Thierer concerning tweaking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was published today in Ars Technica... More

Feb 11, 2009

New positions with the CMLP

The Citizen Media Law Project is looking for law student interns for the spring and summer and for a new staff attorney. More

Feb 2, 2009

CMLP: "Virginia Blogger Targeted With Outrageous Subpoena"

Last week CMLP reported on an overreaching subpoena served against Charlottesville, Virgina blogger Waldo Jaquith... More

Jan 13, 2009

CMLP: Documenting the 2009 Presidential Inauguration

The Citizen Media Law Project has released a must-read for anyone planning a trip to DC on January 20 to witness and record history... More

Nov 3, 2008

US presidential campaign & election '08

We've assembled a sampling of recent Internet and politics-related activities and writings from the Berkman community... More

Oct 15, 2008

Video your vote

November 4 at ground level

YouTube and PBS have teamed up to ask US voters to document their voting experiences. You're invited to upload your election day video to the Video Your Vote channel. The Citizen… More

Oct 10, 2008

The CMLP on choosing an ISP

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog... There are a lot of things to consider when making the decision to launch a blog or website...one area most people tend to overlook is… More

Sep 10, 2008

Defending the Rights of Artists

Citizen Media Law Project joins The Right to Write Fund in protecting creative artists from legal threats

In the wake of the Harry Potter Lexicon trial, the Berkman Center's Citizen Media Law Project has announced a new partnership with the Right to Write Fund, which helped defend… More

Sep 10, 2008

Judge Rejects Fair Use Defense in Harry Potter Lexicon Case

The Citizen Media Law Project begins unpacking the 68-page decision in Rowling v. RDR Books, in which Judge Robert Patterson held that RDR "had failed to establish an affirmative… More

Sep 5, 2008

Cape Cod blogger sued for libel

The Citizen Media Law Project provides detailed analysis of the case of Peter Robbins, of the Robbins Report blog, which raises "a host of interesting questions" concerning… More

Aug 25, 2008

California Court Warns Copyright Bullies Not to Ignore Fair Use

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog... A federal district court in California held on Wednesday that copyright owners must consider fair use before sending DMCA takedown… More

Aug 5, 2008

The Citizen Media Law Project on Understanding Your Legal Risks When You Blog or Publish Online

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog...Over the next few weeks I'll be posting about various topics we cover in the CMLP's Citizen Media Legal Guide...Today, I'll start with… More

Jul 29, 2008

Citizen Media Law Project Legal Guide: final sections now live

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog... Today, we are launching the final sections of the Citizen Media Law Project's online guide to media law covering the risks associated… More

Jul 29, 2008

Citizen Media Law Project Completes Launch of Online Guide to Media Law

The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) announced today that it has completed the launch of its Citizen Media Legal Guide. The free guide, which is intended for use by bloggers,… More

Jul 28, 2008

Using audio clip for criticism is fair use

District Court spanks Michael Savage suit

From the Citizen Media Law Project blog... In a huge victory for freedom of speech, on Friday a federal district court in California dismissed conservative talk show host Michael… More

Jul 10, 2008

Iranian parliament moving toward death penalty for blogging on certain topics

From the Citizen Media Law Project... Online free speech has never been well received by the Iranian government, but now Tehran is just one step away from making blogging on… More

Jun 25, 2008

Judge Sanctions Lawyer for Issuing Subpoena to Blogger Kathleen Seidel

David Ardia of the Citizen Media Law Project updates us on the Sykes v. Seidel case. More

Jun 17, 2008

AP's Fair Use Challenge

David Ardia of the Citizen Media Law Project hits all the points in his blogpost, "Associated Press Sends DMCA Takedown to Drudge Retort, Backpedals, and Now Seeks to Define Fair… More

Jun 11, 2008

Prince, Bootlegging, and Copyright Protection for Live Performances

Citizen Media Law Project assistant director Sam Bayard follows up on the "Prince/Radiohead/YouTube flap," raising some additional questions and asking, "Copyright geeks and fair… More

May 5, 2008

CMLP Launches New Legal Guide Section: Intellectual Property

The first cut of the Citizen Media Law Project's in-depth Legal Guide is nearly complete! Last Friday's release of the section on "intellectual property" fills in an essential… More

Apr 30, 2008

English Libel Law's Pernicious Impact on First Amendment Speech

Citizen Media Law Project director David Ardia walks us through Floyd Abrams' op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal... More

Apr 25, 2008

How Trademark Law Casts A Dark Cloud Over Free Speech

The Citizen Media Law Project is preparing the intellectual property sections of its legal guide. An article by Professor Bill McGeveran provides some grist for the mill, raising… More

Apr 23, 2008

The Citizen Media Law Project follows the Quash of the Seidel Subpoena

From the CMLP blog...A federal magistrate judge in New Hampshire has quashed the subpoena issued to Kathleen Seidel. Seidel publishes the blog Neurodiversity, where she writes… More

Apr 16, 2008

Citizen Media Law Project following new Wikileaks case

From the CMLP blog... Wikileaks, which purports to provide an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis," is back in the news as it faces a new… More

Apr 3, 2008

CMLP Launches New Legal Guide Section: Access to Government Information

The Citizen Media Law Project's in-depth Legal Guide continues to grow! Yesterday's release of the section on "access to government information" significantly expands this already… More

Mar 21, 2008

iBrattleboro Victorious!

The Citizen Media Law Project and Media Re:public hail community news and information site iBrattleboro.com's "significant victory," "a wonderful outcome," in a libel lawsuit… More

Mar 19, 2008

It's Sunshine Week!

From the Citizen Media Law Project... It’s March and it’s Sunshine Week. This year, from March 16 - 22, the American Society of Newspaper Editors is holding its annual national… More

Feb 27, 2008

Berkman Center’s Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic Challenge Injunctions Against Wikileaks and Dynadot

CAMBRIDGE, MA. – The Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) and Cyberlaw Clinic have joined a coalition of media and public interest… More

Feb 20, 2008

Making Sense of the Wikileaks Fiasco: Prior Restraints in the Internet Age

Citizen Media Law Project Director David Ardia is quoted in today's New York Times, saying that a judge's order to shutdown the WikiLeaks website by removing its DNS record, “is… More

Feb 5, 2008

Citizen Media Law Project Launches Online Legal Guide

The Citizen Media Law Project (CMLP) launched the first sections of its Citizen Media Legal Guide (http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide) last week. The guide, intended for use… More


Events 06

May 4, 2013 @ 9:00 AM

Filling the News Gap in Cambridge and Beyond: Citizen Journalism and Grassroots Media

The event will explore the quickly expanding world of citizen journalism: how technology is fueling its growth; how that growth is changing the way we see our world, enact change,… More

Oct 22, 2011 @ 9:00 AM

Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed -- Again

Co-produced by the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Kennesaw State's Center for Sustainable Journalism, Media Law in the Digital… More

Sep 22, 2011 @ 9:00 AM

Law School for Digital Journalists

A Pre-Conference of the Online News Association's 2011 Conference

The Online News Association, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy present Law School for Digital Journalists, part of the… More

Sep 25, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

Media Law in the Digital Age: The Rules Have Changed, Have You?

We're pleased to announce that the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard's Berkman Center and the Center for Sustainable Journalism at Kennesaw State University are co-hosting a… More

Apr 9, 2010 @ 9:00 AM

Symposium: Journalism's Digital Transition: Unique Legal Challenges and Opportunities

The Berkman Center's Citizen Media Law Project and Cyberlaw Clinic are pleased to announce a one-day symposium and CLE program to celebrate the launch of the Online Media Legal… More

May 6, 2008 @ 1:30 PM

Citizen Media Law Project @ 1

David Ardia, Sam Bayard, Tuna Chatterjee

David Ardia, Sam Bayard, and Tuna Chatterjee of CMLP discussed trends in online publishing and previewed the CMLP database of subpeonas, cease-and-desist letters, and other… More


People 06

Team

Phil Malone

Alumni

David Ardia

Alumni

Dan Gillmor

Alumni

Wendy Seltzer

Fellows Advisory Board

Andy Sellars

Affiliate