California Gov Case Study

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California Gov. Jerry Brown signed an amendment covering libel retraction and damages last month, creating the consistent treatment of print and online publications.
Assembly Bill 998 replaces the term “newspaper” with “daily or weekly news publication.” This alteration extends libel protections to online daily or weekly publications which were not protected under the original legislation.
Section 1 of AB 998 states “it is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that weekly and online publications are afforded the same protection under Section 48a of the Civil Code as is afforded to a daily newspaper to the extent that the weekly and online publications perform the same news-disseminating function as a daily newspaper.”
In a standard libel
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The Wrapnews Inc.
Without requesting a retraction, Elisabeth Thieriot sued The Wrap News, a digital news organization, for defamation. The Wrap published an article stating Thieriot’s partner accused her of running from Mexico with footage of their documentary about the Mayans.
The initial court dismissed the case and determined it was a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).

When Thieriot appealed, the appeals court reversed the decision stating The Wrap “should not to be afforded the same protections as newspapers because the 1931 law defines a newspaper as ‘a publication that was printed on inexpensive paper, often daily.’”

This decision was brought to the attention of Assemblymen Donald Wagner (R-Irvine) by an article written by Eugene Volokh in The Washington Post.
Wagner responded by introducing this amendment in 2014, but it did not progress due to timing issues. He reintroduced the bill which passed easily in both houses this year.
"The California libel statue was in desperate need of an update," said Wagner in a statement. “I am pleased that with the passage of my bill we will see a common-sense approach being used instead of more lawsuits. This bill is a win for both the newspapers and the
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