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Media Coalition

Defending the First Amendment since 1973

Media Coalition is an association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and distribute books, magazines, recordings, home video and video games; and defends the American public's First Amendment right to access the broadest possible range of information, opinion and entertainment. Founded in 1973, our members represent most of the booksellers, publishers, librarians, film, recording and video game producers, and home video and video game retailers in the United States.


WHO WE ARE

MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS




MEDIA COALITION BOARD & STAFF

 

Tom Foulkes
Entertainment Software Association
Chair of the Board

Barbara Jones
Freedom to Read Foundation
Treasurer

Judith Platt
Association of American Publishers
Immediate Past Chair

Michael Bamberger
Richard Zuckerman
Dentons US LLP
General Counsel

David Horowitz
Executive Director
 (212) 587-4026 ext. 3
  Email

Kris Anne Bonifacio
Communications Coordinator
 (212) 587-4026 ext. 5
  Email

Mailing Address:
19 Fulton Street
Suite 407
New York, NY 10038

WHAT WE DO

OUR WORK

Media Coalition is the only organization whose sole mission is to protect the First Amendment rights of media industries in legislatures and courts.

 

Legislation

Media Coalition communicates with federal, state and local government officials, advising them on proposed legislation affecting material protected by the First Amendment. We defend our members' interests in all 50 states and before Congress.

 

Litigation

We file legal challenges to laws that violate the First Amendment. Media Coalition also submits amicus briefs in the United States Supreme Court and in lower courts in support of the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors.

 

Industry Advocacy

Media Coalition is the vehicle that allows allied industries and businesses to defend their First Amendment interests with a single voice. The range of our membership and the strength of our coalition gives us unique credibility with legislators and the courts and allows us to protect the mutual interests of various media industries.


Lawsuits

ImageMedia Coalition has brought more than 35 lawsuits in federal and state courts, with a remarkable rate of success. Our lawsuits address a broad range of First Amendment concerns:

Content Restrictions: Media Coalition and its members have successfully challenged laws that ban or restrict access to specific types of content in all forms of media that go beyond the few categories of speech the Supreme Court allows to be regulated. Most recent cases: Tattered Cover v. Brohl and Powell’s Books v. Kroger.

Internet Censorship: Media Coalition’s lawsuits successfully struck down or limited the application of laws that would have placed unconstitutional restrictions on content providers on the Internet and blocked Internet users from accessing constitutionally protected material. Most recent cases: Florence v. ShurtleffAmerican Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. SullivanAmerican Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley.

Taxing and Licensing: Media Coalition has also challenged laws that impose taxes or surcharges both on specific kinds of media and types of content. Most recent case: Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors.

To view the full list of our cases, visit our Litigation page.

Amicus Briefs

ImageMedia Coalition drafts amicus briefs on First Amendment issues that affect members’ interests. Briefs are circulated to members and supporters, who then choose to sign the brief. Media Coalition has submitted numerous amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court and in lower courts in support of its members in a broad range of First Amendment cases. The recent amicus briefs we have filed in the Supreme Court are:

Click here to see a full list of the cases in which we filed amicus briefs.


Legislative Advocacy

ImageEach year, federal, state and local legislatures introduce hundreds of bills that could violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression. Media Coalition monitors and acts on legislation in a variety of ways:

Tracking important legislation: Media Coalition maintains a watch list of bills that are of interest to members. Daily updates allow members and supporters to closely track the progress of legislation. We also include bill summaries that clarify bill language and highlight possible points of concern for members. In 2013, we tracked 100 bills that had possible First Amendment implications. To see the bills we are currently tracking, visit our Legislative Tracker.

Statements/memos in opposition: Media Coalition writes position statements that note constitutional problems with pending bills. These position statements, which are issued on letterhead listing our members, are then circulated to the appropriate members of the legislature and their staff. To view a full list of the memos we have written, visit our Legislation page.

Reports

ImageMedia Coalition has published six reports that explore the most important First Amendment and censorship issues of the time. These reports are intended to educate elected officials, journalists and the public about First Amendment issues. Most recently, we published Only a Game: Why Censoring New Media Won’t Stop Gun Violence, a 2013 report that refutes claims that exposure to violent content causes real-world violence. The report highlighted three key findings:

  • Real world data, such as crime statistics, do not support the theory that new media causes violence.
  • Research into the effects of video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive.
  • Censorship is barred by the First Amendment, but industry self-regulation works.

We also published a report in 2000, Shooting the Messenger: Why Censorship Won’t Stop Violence, that examines at greater length the scientific claims of short- and long-term links between all kinds of media and violent crime.

Click here to see a full list of our reports.


Restrictions on Violent Content

ImageOver the last 15 years, there has been a significant increase in state legislation that seeks to restrict material with violent content. Media Coalition has strongly defended the dissemination of material with violent themes and images. These efforts culminated in two Supreme Court cases, which both affirmed that material with violent content is protected by the First Amendment: Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association and Entertainment Software Association and United States v. Stevens.

Other cases brought by Media Coalition and cases in which we filed an amicus brief include:

Despite these Supreme Court rulings, attempts to pass legislation to censor material with violent content persist. Media Coalition has refuted claims that exposure to violent content causes aggressive behavior, publishing two reports that examine the research on the link between violence in media and in the real world: Only a Game: Why Censoring New Media Won’t Stop Gun Violence and Shooting the Messenger: Why Censorship Won’t Stop Violence.

Internet Law

ImageMedia Coalition is a critical advocate for protecting free speech online. For the last two decades, our successful challenge to the application of state “harmful to minors” laws to the Internet have established the definitive body of law protecting free expression online. See the following cases for more information:

Media Coalition continues to fight for First Amendment rights on the Internet, as new efforts to limit online speech are proposed. In 2014, Media Coalition successfully defeated or narrowed bills that criminalized online speech with sexual content, bills that placed restrictions on the online publication of arrest photos and bills that banned “offensive” or “annoying speech on the Internet. As a result of these efforts, Media Coalition helps make available the broadest range of constitutionally protected material on the Internet.


OUR HISTORY

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1973

Media Coalition founded

1974

Supreme Court issues ruling in Jenkins v. Georgia

1977

Michael Bamberger becomes general counsel

National Federation for Decency created

1979

Tennessee Supreme Court issues ruling in Leech v. American Booksellers Association

Supreme Court issues ruling in Lo-Ji Sales v. New York

1980

5th Circuit issues ruling in Penthouse v. McAuliffe

Supreme Court issues ruling in Vance v. Universal Amusement

1981

U.S. District Court rules in American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe

1982

California court rules in American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court

Supreme Court rules in New York v. Ferber

1983

Minneapolis anti-pornography ordinance introduced

1984

Meese Commission established

Pennsylvania court rules in American Booksellers Association v. Rendell

Media Coalition wins award

1985

Colorado Supreme Court issues ruling in Tattered Cover v. Tooley

Supreme Court issues ruling in Maryland v. Macon

Supreme Court issues ruling in Brockett v. Spokane Arcades

Wildmon testifies before the Meese Commission

8th Circuit issues ruling in Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis

1986

Meese Commission issues warning to corporations

Supreme Court summarily affirms ruling in American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut

Supreme Court issues ruling in Renton v. Playtime Theaters

Corporations, Media Coalition respond to Meese letter

U.S. District Court rules in Playboy v. Meese

Meese Commission issues report

Americans for Constitutional Freedom founded

1987

National Obscenity Enforcement Unit created

American Family Association established

Supreme Court issues ruling in Pope v. Illinois

11th Circuit issues ruling in Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans

1989

Wildmon’s CLeaR TV threatens boycott

U.S. District Court rules in Village Books v. Bellingham

Supreme Court issues ruling in Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana

Media Coalition issues Wildmon report

4th Circuit issues ruling in Virginia v. American Booksellers Association

Waldenbooks v. American Family Association lawsuit filed

1990

Supreme Court issues ruling in FW/PBS v. Dallas

ACF and Media Coalition merge

Michigan obscenity bills defeated

Waldenbooks v. AFA resolved

11th Circuit issues ruling in American Booksellers Association v. Webb

1991

Pornography Victims Compensation Act introduced

Media Coalition issues “Sense and Censorship” report”

Free Expression Network established

1992

VSDA, RIAA join Media Coalition

NARM joins Media Coalition

10th Circuit issues ruling in United States v. PHE

TV Guide publishes exposé of Don Wildmon

1993

MPA, PMA join Media Coalition

U.S. Supreme Court rules in Alexander v. United States

Media Coalition issues Catharine MacKinnon report

Tennessee Supreme Court issues ruling in Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter

1994

3rd Circuit issues ruling in United States v. Knox

Violence Against Women Act amended

IDSA joins Media Coalition

California court rules in People v. Wiener

Colorado and Oregon obscenity referendums defeated

Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. X-Citement Video

1996

U.S. District Court rules in Playboy v. Deters

Supreme Court issues ruling in Denver Area Consortium v. FCC

Oregon obscenity referendum defeated again

1997

Media Coalition holds screenings of “The People vs. Larry Flynt”

Copies of “Tin Drum” confiscated in Oklahoma

U.S. District Court rules in American Library Association v. Pataki

Supreme Court issues ruling in Reno v. ACLU

Campaign against The Last Day of Summer

Media Coalition responds to anti-Sturges campaign

2nd Circuit issues ruling in General Media Communications v. Cohen

1998

Child Online Protection Act signed into law

U.S. District Court rules in Video Software Dealers Association v. Oklahoma City

1999

Columbine students shoot their classmates

Children’s Defense Act of 1999 defeated

10th Circuit issues ruling in ACLU v. Johnson

2000

Media Coalition issues Shooting the Messenger report

Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Playboy

2001

Supreme Court dismisses City News v. Waukesha

7th Circuit issues ruling in AAMA v. Kendrick

U.S. District Court rules in Cyberspace Communications v. Engler

2002

Colorado Supreme Court issues ruling in Tattered Cover v. Thornton

Supreme Court issues ruling in Los Angeles v. Alameda Books

2003

CBLDF joins Media Coalition

8th Circuit issues ruling in Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County

2nd Circuit issues ruling in American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean

2004

4th Circuit issues ruling in PSINet v. Chapman

Supreme Court issues ruling in City of Littleton v. Z. J. Gifts

U.S. District Court rules in ACLU v. Goddard

2005

U.S. District Court rules in Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich

2006

California Supreme Court issues ruling in Lyle v. Warner Brothers

7th Circuit rules in Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich

2008

8th Circuit issues ruling in Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson

Arizona third-party liability bill defeated

Content-based tax legislation defeated in Alabama and South Carolina

Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Williams

U.S. District Court rules in Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors

2010

6th Circuit issues ruling in American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland

Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Stevens

9th Circuit issues ruling in Powell’s Books v. Kroger

U.S. District Court rules in American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley

2011

Third-party liability Hawaii bill defeated

Supreme Court issues ruling in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association

U.S. District Court rules in American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan

2012

Arizona legislation on Internet speech amended

U.S. District Court rules in Florence v. Shurtleff

Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Alvarez

2013

Media Coalition issues “Only a Game” report

U.S. District Court issues ruling in Tattered Cover v. Brohl

Supreme Court denies cert in 677 New Loudon v. State of New York Tax Appeals Tribunal

2014

Media Coalition opposes legislation restricting arrest photos

Supreme Court issues ruling in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus