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The Media Coalition

Defending the First Amendment since 1973

The Media Coalition Inc. 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 OFFICERS & STAFF

 

Barbara Jones
Freedom to Read Foundation
Chair of the Board

Sean Bersell
Entertainment Merchants Association
Treasurer

Tom Foulkes
Entertainment Software Association
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
1973 to 1989

1973

Media Coalition founded

On June 21, 1973, the United States Supreme Court rules on Miller v. California. In its ruling, the Supreme Court establishes a three-part definition of obscenity that has remained the standard for judging the legality of sexually explicit material ever since.

Later that month, founding members American Booksellers Association, Association of American Publishers, Motion Picture Association of America, International Periodical Distributors Association, Council for Periodical Distributors Association and Periodical & Book Association of America organize Media Coalition.


1974

Supreme Court issues ruling in Jenkins v. Georgia

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Jenkins v. Georgia that a local jury was wrong in declaring the movie “Carnal Knowledge” obscene.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in this case.


1977

  National Federation for Decency created

Rev. Donald Wildmon establishes the National Federation for Decency in June to “clean up” television. This starts Wildmon’s long career as a champion of censorship. The following spring, he stages his first boycott of television advertisers.


1979

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

In the Media Coalition case Leech v. American Booksellers Association, the Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the state’s obscenity and minors’ access bill is unconstitutional. The overbroad bill was written by Larry Parrish, a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Tennessee until 1977 and an anti-pornography activist. Before the suit, it had become a model bill for other states.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lo-Ji Sales v. New York that a generalized search and seizure of a store without a particularized search warrant is unconstitutional.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case.


1980

  5th Circuit issues ruling in Penthouse v. McAuliffe

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that harassment and arrests of retailers prior to a final adjudication on obscenity is an unconstitutional prior restraint in Penthouse v. McAuliffe.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in this case.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Vance v. Universal Amusement

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Vance v. Universal Amusement Co. that a Texas public nuisance statute permitting prior restraint of allegedly obscene motion pictures without prompt judicial review is unconstitutional.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in this case.


1981

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Association v. McAuliffe, the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia rules that Georgia’s minors’ access law is unconstitutional.


1982

California Supreme Court rules in American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Association v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, the 2nd District Court of Appeals of California rules that an ordinance requiring shrink-wrapping is unconstitutional.

Supreme Court rules in New York v. Ferber

The U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in New York v. Ferber. It establishes child pornography as a class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case.


1983

  Minneapolis anti-pornography ordinance introduced

In October, Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin propose an ordinance that would allow a woman to sue a producer or distributor of pornography because pornography is a form of sex discrimination at a Minneapolis zoning commission meeting. The ordinance is approved by the city council but is eventually vetoed by the mayor over concerns that it violates the First Amendment.


1984

  Meese Commission established

On May 21, President Ronald Reagan signs the Child Protection Act of 1984. It is intended to toughen the laws on pornography involving children. It also creates the Meese Commission to study the effects of pornography on society.

  Pennsylvania court rules in American Booksellers Association v. Rendell

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Association v. Rendell, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upholds the state’s minors’ access statute.

  Media Coalition wins award

Media Coalition wins “Open Book Award” from the American Society of Journalists and Authors in November.


1985

  Colorado Supreme Court issues ruling in Tattered Cover v. Tooley

In the Media Coalition case Tattered Cover v. Tooley, the Colorado Supreme Court rules that Colorado’s harmful to minors law is unconstitutional.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Maryland v. Macon

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Maryland v. Macon that a detective entering an adult store, purchasing magazines, and then arresting the clerk for selling obscene material did not constitute an unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the case.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Brockett v. Spokane Arcades

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brockett v. Spokane Arcades that Washington’s use of the word “lust” in its definition of “prurient interest” is unconstitutional.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the case.

  Wildmon testifies before the Meese Commission

In October, Rev. Donald Wildmon testifies before the Meese Commission. He names 23 corporations that are “distributing pornography.” The biggest corporation of the 23 is Southland, which owns 7-Eleven.

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

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in Upper Midwest Booksellers Association v. Minneapolis that a harmful to minors statute is a permissible time, place and manner restriction on speech.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the case.


1986

  Meese Commission issues warning to corporations

In February, the Meese Commission sends a letter to all 23 corporations named by Rev. Wildmon during his testimony, threatening to list them as distributors of pornography in the Commission’s final report.

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Association v. Hudnut, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down as unconstitutional the MacKinnon/Dworkin ordinances adopted in Indianapolis.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Renton v. Playtime Theaters

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a city ordinance that prohibits adult motion picture theaters from being located within 1,000 feet from certain facilities, such as schools and churches, in City of Renton v. Playtime Theaters.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case.

  Corporations, Media Coalition respond to Meese letter

Southland discontinues carrying Penthouse, Playboy and Forum in 4,500 stores in response to the Meese Commission letter. Many stores follow Southland’s lead and by August, 17,000 stores have removed these and similar titles from their stores. Several lawsuits, some including Media Coalition members, are filed to force the commission to withdraw the letter.

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

On July 3, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia orders the Meese Commission to withdraw the letter and bars any list of retailers from being issued in Playboy v. Meese.

Media Coalition members were plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

  Meese Commission issues report

On July 9, the final report of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography (or the Meese Report) is released. It concludes that pornography causes violence.

  Americans for Constitutional Freedom founded

The Americans for Constitutional Freedom is formed in July. Established in response to the Meese Commission, the purpose of ACF is to create a public relations campaign to raise awareness on the danger of censorship. ACF later merges with Media Coalition.


1987

  National Obscenity Enforcement Unit created

Per the Meese Commission recommendation, the National Obscenity Enforcement Unit is established within the Justice Department to prosecute obscenity. Attorney General Meese also orders that one attorney in every U.S. Attorney’s office specialize in obscenity prosecutions.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Pope v. Illinois

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Pope v. Illinois that literary, artistic, political or scientific value of an allegedly obscene work must be weighed by a standard broader than that of any particular community. The new standard is that of a “reasonable person.”

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in this case.

  American Family Association established

During the fall of 1987, Wildmon closes the National Federation for Decency and opens the American Family Association.

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

In the Media Coalition case Council for Periodical Distributors Association v. Evans, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the threats made by Montgomery, Alabama District Attorney intimidating wholesalers and retailers into withdrawing adult magazines was an unconstitutional prior restraint.


1989

  Wildmon’s CLeaR TV threatens boycott

In January, the Christian Leaders for Responsible Television (CLeaR TV), another Wildmon group, says it will boycott the advertisers of television’s “worst” shows at the end of May television sweeps. Following the threatened boycott, Kimberly-Clark, Tambrands, Ralston-Purina and General Mills withdraw ads from shows. Domino’s Pizza withdraws advertising from “Saturday Night Live,” and Pepsi breaks its relationship with Madonna over the “Like a Virgin” music video.

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

In the Media Coalition case Village Books v. City of Bellingham, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington finds unconstitutional a Bellingham, Washington, ordinance that authorized the filing of civil suits against producers and distributors of material depicting sexually explicit subordination of women. The ordinance is a version of the original MacKinnon/Dworkin ordinance drafted for Minneapolis.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana

The U.S. Supreme Court rules unanimously in Fort Wayne Books v. Indiana that the government may not use RICO laws to make a wholesale pre-trial seizure of books or magazines.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in support of Fort Wayne Books.

  Media Coalition issues Wildmon report

Americans for Constitutional Freedom, which later merged with Media Coalition, releases report on Rev. Don Wildmon entitled, “The Rev. Donald E. Wildmon’s Crusade for Censorship.” The report is written by Media Coalition Director Christopher Finan.

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

In the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Virginia’s minors’ access law, but only after in response to questions certified by the U.S. Supreme Court to the Virginia Supreme Court on January 25, 1988. The Virginia Supreme Court narrowed Virginia’s minors’ access law so that it only applies to “borderline obscenity.”

  Waldenbooks v. American Family Association lawsuit filed

Waldenbooks v. American Family Association is filed in Florida. Waldenbooks, Playboy and some Media Coalition members sue the Florida chapter of the American Family Association for sending a letter to Florida retailers threatening to sue and publicly ridicule retailers unless they stopped selling “offensive magazines.”

 

1990 to 1999

1990

  Supreme Court issues ruling in FW/PBS v. Dallas

In FW/PBS v. City of Dallas, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a licensing provision for adult businesses in Dallas because it fails to provide the businesses with proper procedural protection.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in this case.

  ACF and Media Coalition merge

Media Coalition and Americans for Constitutional Freedom merge in February.

  Michigan obscenity bills defeated

In October, a 12-bill obscenity package is defeated in Michigan. The bills would have broadened the definition of obscenity beyond the Miller definition and significantly increased the penalty for selling illegal material with sexual content. Media Coalition was instrumental in the campaign against these bills, including helping form the Great Lakes Booksellers Association.

  Waldenbooks v. AFA resolved

The case Waldenbooks v. American Family Association is dropped after the AFA agrees not to use extortionate methods to try and prevent the sale of magazines it finds offensive.

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Association v. Webb, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals narrows Georgia’s minors’ access law to apply only to “borderline obscenity.”


1991

  Pornography Victims Compensation Act introduced

The first version of the Pornography Victims Compensation Act is introduced in Congress in February. Like the ordinance proposed by Dworkin and MacKinnon in Minneapolis and enacted in Indianapolis, it would authorize the victim of a sex crime to sue producers and distributors of material that is both “sexually explicit” and “violent” if the material was the proximate cause of the crime.

A year later, on October 8, 1992, the Act fails to pass Congress, a major legislative victory for Media Coalition.

  Media Coalition issues “Sense and Censorship” report

Media Coalition releases “Sense and Censorship: The Vanity of Bonfires,” a pamphlet arguing there is no link between sexually explicit material and crime.

  Free Expression Network established

The Free Expression Network meets for the first time in New York. Media Coalition along with National Campaign for Free Expression organize the first meeting. FEN continues to meet regularly.


1992

  VSDA, RIAA join Media Coalition

In February, the Video Software Dealers Association (now the Entertainment Merchants Association) joins Media Coalition. The Recording Industry Association of America becomes a full member.

  NARM joins Media Coalition

In April, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers joins Media Coalition.

  10th Circuit issues ruling in United States v. PHE

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals finds in United States v. PHE that the Justice Department’s use of multi-jurisdictional prosecutions against Adam and Eve, a mail order business for sexually explicit materials, was malicious.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief supporting PHE.

  TV Guide publishes exposé of Don Wildmon

In September, TV Guide publishes an exposé of Don Wildmon, relying extensively on papers provided by Media Coalition.


1993

  MPA, PMA join Media Coalition

The Magazine Publishers of America becomes a full member of Media Coalition. In March 1993, the Publishers Marketing Association joins Media Coalition.

  Supreme Court rules in Alexander v. United States

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a law that allowed the government to seize and destroy Ferris J. Alexander’s adult businesses under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act when he was convicted of selling seven obscene magazines and videos in Alexander v. United States.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in the case.

  Media Coalition issues Catharine MacKinnon report

Media Coalition releases report on Catharine MacKinnon entitled, “Catharine A. MacKinnon: The Rise of a Feminist Censor, 1983-1993.”

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

In the Media Coalition case Davis-Kidd Booksellers v. McWherter, the Tennessee Supreme Court rules that the “excessive violence” provision of the definition of “harmful to minors” is unconstitutional and the minors’ access provision is constitutional but only for material that is borderline obscenity.


1994

  3rd Circuit issues ruling in United States v. Knox

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals rules in United States v. Knox that non-nude depictions of minors can be prosecuted as child pornography.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in this case.

  Violence Against Women Act amended

In July, the Violence Against Women Act becomes law after it is stripped of provisions that would have appropriated funds for training law enforcement personnel on the alleged connection between pornography and violence against women.

Media Coalition had vigorously opposed this provision.

  IDSA joins Media Coalition

In September, the Interactive Digital Software Association (now called the Entertainment Software Association) becomes a member.

  California court rules in People v. Wiener

The 4th District Court of Appeals for the State of California rules in People v. Wiener that California’s privacy laws do not protect against prosecution for the distribution of obscene material.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in this case.

  Colorado and Oregon obscenity referendums defeated

With the help of Media Coalition, obscenity referendums in Colorado and Oregon are defeated during the November elections. Both laws would have diminished free speech protection under the respective state constitutions.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in United States v. X-Citement Video that the correct reading of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act of 1977 is that the producer or distributor of child pornography must know that the performer was a minor in order to be prosecuted.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in this case.


1996

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

In the Media Coalition case Playboy v. Deters, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio rules that a local prosecutor should not have told a Barnes and Noble store to move material that he considered “harmful to minors” under the Ohio display statute.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Denver Area Consortium v. FCC

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Denver Area Educational Telecommunications Consortium v. FCC that a statute requiring that for “leased access channels,” all material that is “patently offensive” be put on one channel and blocked unless a person sends a written request to unblock it is unconstitutional.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in this case.

  Oregon obscenity referendum defeated again

In November, a second Oregon obscenity referendum in three years is defeated again with the help of Media Coalition.


1997

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

In December 1996, Columbia Pictures releases the movie “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” which tells the story of the First Amendment legal battles that Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt faced. Media Coalition holds two screenings the following month to promote the film and highlight free speech issues.

  Copies of Tin Drum confiscated in Oklahoma

In June, the Oklahoma City Police confiscate copies of the Academy Award-winning German film Tin Drum from several movie retailers, claiming it is child pornography.

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

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rules that New York’s “harmful to minors” on the Internet statute is unconstitutional in the Media Coalition and ACLU case American Library Association v. Pataki. It is the first case that strikes down content restriction on the Internet, and a long series of litigation challenging similar statutes that apply “harmful to minors” laws to the Internet follows.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Reno v. ACLU

The U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Communication Decency Act, a law that made it a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and $250,000 in fines to publish indecent material on the Internet in a manner available to those under 18 years of age, in Reno v. ACLU. Many members of Media Coalitions participated in the case as plaintiffs.

  Campaign against The Last Day of Summer

In August, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry launches a campaign against Jock Sturges’ book of photography, The Last Day of Summer, that has pictures of minors both clothed and nude. Protests include going into stores and vandalizing copies of the book. Campaign later expands to attack photographer Sally Mann’s books as well.

  Media Coalition responds to anti-Sturges campaign

On October 24, Media Coalition drafts a statement on behalf of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Border and Barnes and Noble, condemning the actions of the anti-Sturges campaign and defending the sale of the book.

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

In the Media Coalition case General Media Communications v. Cohen, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the Military Honor and Decency Act, a law that banned the sale or rental, at a military facility, of any material that “depicts or describes nudity … in a lascivious way” is constitutional.


1998

  Child Online Protection Act signed into law

On October 22, President Bill Clinton signs into law the Child Online Protection Act, another “harmful to minors” material on the Internet statute. While this act is narrower than its predecessor, the Communications Decency Act, another challenge is filed. Members of Media Coalition participate as plaintiffs and as signatories to amicus briefs throughout the litigation, which would last 10 years.

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

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma rules that the movie Tin Drum is not child pornography and that its seizure was an unlawful prior restraint in Video Software Dealers Association v. Oklahoma City.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief supporting Video Software Dealers Association, now Entertainment Merchants Association, a Media Coalition member.


1999

  Columbine students shoot their classmates

On April 20, two students open fire on their classmates at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The shooting leads to intense political pressure to ban speech with violent content.

  Children’s Defense Act of 1999 defeated

House Resolution 2036, or the Children’s Defense Act of 1999, is defeated in the House of Representatives in June. The bill would have banned the sale of violent and/or sexually explicit material that is “harmful to minors.” Media Coalition submitted a letter in opposition to the bill to the members of the House.

  10th Circuit issues ruling in ACLU v. Johnson

In the Media Coalition case ACLU v. Johnson, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that New Mexico cannot prohibit the dissemination of material that is “harmful to minors” over the Internet.

2000 to 2009

2000

  Media Coalition issues Shooting the Messenger report

Media Coalition releases a report entitled “Shooting the Messenger” by Judith Levine, which debunks the myth that there is any relationship between depictions of violence in the media and real-life violence.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Playboy

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the section of the Communications Decency Act that requires cable operators with channels with mostly sexually explicit programming block audio or visual signals at a time when children may be watching is unconstitutional in United States v. Playboy.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in support of Playboy.


2001

  Supreme Court dismisses City News v. Waukesha

The U.S. Supreme Court dismisses City News v. City of Waukesha. The question in the case was whether municipalities must provide prompt judicial determination or simply the right to file promptly for judicial review in adult businesses licensing cases.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief in this case.

  7th Circuit issues ruling in AAMA v. Kendrick

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules unconstitutional an Indianapolis ordinance adding graphic violence to the definition of “harmful to minors” in AAMA v. Kendrick.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief supporting AAMA.

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

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan rules that the state’s “harmful to minors” law as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional in Cyberspace Communications v. Engler. The state had previously gone to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to argue that the District Judge was wrong in granting a preliminary injunction before deciding the case. The 6th Circuit Court ruled that the District Judge did abuse his discretion in granting the preliminary injunction and sent it back to the District Court for a decision on the constitutionality of the statute.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the 6th Circuit.


2002

  Colorado Supreme Court issues ruling in Tattered Cover v. Thornton

The Colorado Supreme Court rules in Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton that a search warrant seeking information about a book purchased by a Tattered Cover customer violated the First Amendment and the Colorado constitution.

Media Coalition members joined an amicus brief in support of Tattered Cover.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Los Angeles v. Alameda Books

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in City of Los Angeles v. Alameda Books that Los Angeles could use its 1977 study as the basis for an ordinance that did not allow two adult facilities in the same building.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief, which argued that in recent years, the scope of adult zoning has been broadened to the point where mainstream businesses are often regulated as well.


2003

  CBLDF joins Media Coalition

In June, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund joins Media Coalition.

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

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that a St. Louis County ordinance banning minors’ access to certain video games with violent content is unconstitutional in Interactive Digital Software Association v. St. Louis County, Mo.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in support of its member IDSA, now the Entertainment Software Association.

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Dean, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Vermont’s “harmful to minors” clause as applied to the Internet violates the First Amendment and the Commerce Clause.


2004

  4th Circuit issues ruling in PSINet v. Chapman

In the Media Coalition case PSINet v. Chapman, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that Virginia’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds a Littleton, Colorado ordinance that does not provide a prompt judicial determination for adult licensing decisions in the case City of Littleton v. Z. J. Gifts.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief arguing that prompt judicial review is meaningless without prompt judicial determination.

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

In the Media Coalition case ACLU v. Goddard, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona rules that Arizona’s “harmful to minors” statute as applied to the Internet is unconstitutional.


2005

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

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois rules in Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich that two statutes restricting the sale or rental of video games with violent content and video games with sexually explicit content are unconstitutional. The state subsequently appeals the court’s decision regarding video games with sexually explicit content.


2006

  California Supreme Court issues ruling in Lyle v. Warner Brothers

The California Supreme Court rules in Lyle v. Warner Brothers Television Productions, dismissing claims of sexual harassment against the TV studio.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief highlighting the potential negative impact of a “creative necessity” test announced by the California Court of Appeals.

  7th Circuit rules in Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down an Illinois law banning the sale and rental of video games with sexually explicit content to minors in Entertainment Software Association v. Blagojevich. A U.S. District Judge had ruled the law unconstitutional, along with a law that banned the sale and rental of video games with violent content to minors. The state appealed the District Judge’s ruling with respect to video games with sexually explicit content.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in support of its members Entertainment Software Association and the Video Software Dealers Association (now the Entertainment Merchants Association).


2008

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

In Entertainment Software Association v. Swanson, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down a Minnesota law that restricted the sale or rental of games rated “M” or “AO” to anyone under 17 and would have imposed a $25 fine on any minor purchasing or renting a restricted game.

Media Coalition an amicus brief, in support of its members Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association, arguing that violent speech is protected by the First Amendment.

  Arizona third-party liability bill defeated

In April, Media Coalition coordinates opposition to an Arizona bill that would have allowed any victim of a felony to sue a bookstore or publisher of “dangerous” material if they claimed that the material produced or caused the felony to be committed. A bookseller that sold a civil engineering book could be held liable if someone used the book to learn how to blow up a building or a bridge. Media Coalition’s legal memos make clear that the First Amendment bars such liability. The bill is defeated in committee.

  Content-based tax legislation defeated in Alabama and South Carolina

In the spring, Media Coalition successfully opposes bills in Alabama and South Carolina that would have imposed taxes on mainstream businesses that sell material containing sexual content or even mere nudity.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Williams

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the pandering provision in the PROTECT Act in United States v. Williams. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief arguing that the provision in the Act poses a threat to mainstream media.

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

In the Media Coalition case Big Hat Books v. Prosecutors, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana rules that an Indiana law imposing a license fee on retailers carrying any sexually explicit material was unconstitutional.

2010 to present

2010

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals substantially narrows an Ohio “harmful to minors” Internet statute, so that it does not apply to websites, listservs or public chatrooms, and is limited to “personally directed” communications, such as emails and instant messages.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Stevens

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in United States v. Stevens that a 1999 federal law criminalizing the creation, sale or possession of images of animal cruelty is unconstitutional. Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the case arguing that upholding the federal law would create a new class of speech exempt from First Amendment protection. The brief also challenged the government’s assertion that it could ban speech it deems to have “low value” and causes social harm.

Media Coalition also developed and coordinated an a comprehensive amicus strategy in the case. The brief was submitted on behalf of Media Coalition’s members and a broad range of filmmakers and other media groups.

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

In the Media Coalition case Powell’s Books v. Kroger, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals strikes down an Oregon statute barring the dissemination of sexual material to minors that does not follow the test in Miller.

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Coakley, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Massachusetts issues a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of a Massachusetts law that criminalized any electronic distribution of “harmful to minors” material.


2011

  Third-party liability Hawaii bill defeated

Media Coalition opposes Hawaii House Bill 548, which would have allowed landowners and injured tourists to sue travel writers and publishers of guidebooks and websites for the actions of readers. The bill also required books and websites to include warnings about “dangerous” conditions in the areas they describe. The bill passes in the House but fails to pass in the Senate.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association that a California law restricting minors’ access to video games with violent content is unconstitutional. The landmark ruling sets a precedent that video games, even those with violent content, are fully protected by the First Amendment. The case is a culmination of court cases in lower courts regarding restrictions on violent video games.

Media Coalition submitted amicus briefs in the Supreme Court and in the 9th Circuit arguing that the law could lead to broader restrictions on other media with violent content.

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

In the Media Coalition case American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression v. Sullivan, the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska strikes down Alaska’s application of its “harmful to minors” law to electronically transmitted speech and the state’s “harmful to minors” law, declaring both an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults.


2012

  Arizona legislation on Internet speech amended

Media Coalition successfully opposes an Arizona bill that would have barred the use of profane or adult language intended to annoy or offend on the Internet. The bill would have applied to drawings of Muhammad published online and Ann Coulter’s e-books. The bill was amended to address the First Amendment concerns.

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

After lengthy litigation in the Media Coalition case Florence v. Shurtleff, the state of Utah agrees to a stipulated order that limited the scope of the state’s Internet “harmful to minors” law, so that it does not apply to the posting of “harmful to minors” content on generally accessible websites. Media Coalition filed the lawsuit in 2005, challenging a Utah law that sought to restrict minors’ access to sexual material on the Internet by creating a list of websites the Attorney General’s office deems to be inclusive of “harmful” material.

  Supreme Court issues ruling in United States v. Alvarez

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in United States v. Alvarez that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. The law makes it a crime for any person to falsely represent that he or she had been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the case, arguing that there has never been an exception to the First Amendment for false speech along and the Court should not create one.


2013

  Media Coalition issues Only a Game report

Media Coalition publishes “Only a Game: Why Censoring New Media Won’t Stop Gun Violence” in response to claims that media causes violence. The report includes three major findings:

  1. Real-world facts, such as crime statistics, do not support the theory that media causes violence.
  2. Research into the effects of video games on aggression is contested and inconclusive. Much of it suffers from methodological deficiencies and provides insufficient data to prove a causal relationship.
  3. Censorship is barred by the First Amendment, but industry self-regulation works.

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

Media Coalition achieves a swift victory in Tattered Cover v. Brohl, after the U.S. District Court of Colorado rules that a law forcing booksellers to segregate magazines with marijuana content is unconstitutional.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court denies the petition for a writ of certiorari in 677 New Loudon v. State of New York Tax Appeals Tribunal.

Media Coalition filed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to grant the petition, concerned that the ruling of the New York Court of Appeals could allow the state to punish unpopular or disfavored speech by taxing it.


2014

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

The U.S. Supreme Court rules in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus that a “credible threat of enforcement” is a sufficient threat of injury to establish standing in a First Amendment case when bringing a “pre-enforcement” challenge. The Court cites the standard in the Media Coalition case Virginia v. American Booksellers Association of a “reasonable threat of prosecution” as an acceptable formulation of the “credible threat” standard.

Media Coalition submitted an amicus brief in the case, urging the Court to affirm the Virginia standard. The brief highlighted Media Coalition’s long history of bringing First Amendment litigation and demonstrated the importance of allowing challenges to censorship laws prior to prosecution.

  IRS grants (c)(3) status to Media Coalition Foundation

 

In 2013, Media Coalition set up a Foundation to provide a means for individuals and others to support and further its goals in defending the First Amendment. In the summer of 2014, the Internal Revenue Service granted the Media Coalition Foundation (c)(3) status.


2015

  Media Coalition opposes legislation restricting arrest photos

In 2014 and 2015, Media Coalition successfully opposes or helps narrow bills that placed restrictions on publishing arrest photos online. Media Coalition submitted memos explaining that requiring the removal of arrest photos and information of those who were not convicted of their crime would affect materials of historical value. For instance, the bills would allow O.J. Simpson to force any website to take down his arrest photo.

  U.S. District Court signs final decree in Antigone Books v. Brnovich

The U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona permanently ordered state prosecutors to halt enforcement of Arizona’s non-consent photo law. The order approved a joint final settlement between the Arizona attorney general and the Media Coalition members, booksellers and media organizations who challenged the law, resolving all claims in the lawsuit and stating that plaintiffs are entitled to attorneys’ fees.

Antigone Books v. Brnovich is the first facial challenge to a so-called “revenge porn” law. Throughout the 2015 legislative session, Media Coalition urged lawmakers across the country to keep their laws narrowly focused on malicious invasion of privacy to avoid infringing on free speech rights.