May 03, 2018

2018 Annual Conference



ABA Forum on Communications Law
23rd Annual Conference
March 1-3, 2018

Silverado Resort & Spa
Napa Valley, CA

Registration is Closed

Opening Night Reception

Thursday, March 1, 2018
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Copia (500 1st Street) 

The Culinary Institute of America's acclaimmed restaurant and awe-inspiring playground for food and wine lovers.

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Diminished Reality: Do You Really Know What They Are? Can You Spot the Legal Issues?

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Use of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) is growing rapidly. These technologies create a range of new legal issues. This panel will begin with an overview of the various technologies including augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality and diminished reality and then identify and discuss some of the key legal issues that can arise  with their use. One set of issues is the legal liability for safety-related issues resulting from these technologies due to users’ attention being focused on the information on their displays or applications that lead users to dangerous locations.  The panel will further discuss the property rights and potential trespass issues that can result from display of virtual items on private property, such as with location-based games like Pokémon Go.  First Amendment issues will be discussed in the context of a local ordinance that prohibited certain location-based content from being displayed in location-based AR games. The panel will further address new legal issues that arise with virtual advertising, including virtual billboards, replacing real world ads with virtual ads and the virtual equivalent of keyword ads. Some unique privacy issues will be addressed, including biometric privacy issues that can arise due to the facial recognition used in some AR applications.  Finally, the panel will address some of the unique intellectual property issues with AR/VR. The trademark issues will include brand disparagement issues and the legality of using third party trademarks in AR and VR displays. The patent issues will include key aspects of patent protection for these technologies and the use of design patents to protect some of the unique aspects of AR/VR displays.

Patrick McGill,
Deputy General Counsel,
Meta Company,
San Mateo, CA





Brian Wassom,
Warner Norcross & Judd
Southfield, MI




Danielle Brennan,
Legal Counsel,
Go Pro,
San Francisco, CA



Luncheon: Breaking News!

The Gender Diversity Imperative in the Legal Profession and Strategies to Interrupt Conconscious Biases for Inclusion and Success

Saturday, March 3, 2018

This program will be a moderated panel discussion comprised of two parts. Part I of the discussion will feature Joanne Lipman, Chief Content Officer of Gannett and Editor in Chief of USA Today, and author of the book THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID, What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together, which will be published by William Morrow, on January 30, 2018.  In her new book, Ms. Lipman addresses how men can join with women to help close the gender gap, empower women as true equals, and create and dynamic working environment which benefits women, men and the greater good of the company or the law firm. The other panelists joining Ms. Lipman will include: 

  • Barbara Wall, Senior Vice President & Chief Legal Officer, Gannett
  • Jonathan Anschell, Executive Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, CBS Corporation
  • Ashley Messenger, Senior Associate Counsel, National Public Radio
  • Tom Kelly, Partner, Ballard Spahr, Former Chair, ABA Forum on Communications Law
  • Natalie Spears (moderator), Partner, Dentons, Board Member, ABA Forum on Communications Law 
  • and Mary Louise Kelly, Host, NPR's "All Things Considered"

For Part II of the panel discussion, Ms. Lipman and the panel will discuss related media-law issues that are of particular importance to our members, including  the legal implications and vetting requirements for news stories reporting on sexual harassment and sexual misconduct allegations.

Fake News: Rights, Risks and the Role of the Media in a Duplicitous World

In recent years, “fake news” has taken center stage in debates about journalism and politics around the globe. What are the domestic and international implications of fake news? What risks are posed when persons and powers, foreign and domestic, plant fake news stories about matters of public concern? What are the risks of liability when the press is duped by fakers foreign and domestic? Are social media companies taking appropriate steps to reduce the spread of fake news? What legal remedies are available to news organizations whose intellectual property is hijacked by purveyors of phony stories?

Managing Online Content: Legal V. Social Responsibilities

Managing online content:  Legal vs. social responsibilities

What are companies doing by law and voluntarily when it comes to managing online content and how are they doing it (i.e., people vs. algorithm)?  What legal and ethical issues are involved with objectionable content on platforms like social media, UGC-sites, hosted consumer sites, and Search, from sex trafficking to revenge porn, hate speech to copyright infringement.  Issues continue to abound and our panel will discuss the policy debates over how web providers should manage their sites, what are the best corporate guidelines, and the role community standards and social responsibility play.


Forty years have passed since the Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s first indecencypolicies banning George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation. This panel will explore the legacy of Pacifica, the challenges which face the FCC in defining indecency standards and enforcing indecency policy, and the technological and jurisprudential changes that may open the door to the Supreme Court revisiting the First Amendment principles announced in that case.

Pre-Conference Events and Activities

Media Advocacy Workshop for Young Lawyers
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Silverado Resort & Spa
(Requires a Separate Registration Fee)

Diversity Moot Court Competition
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Silverado Resort & Spa
(Entry Deadline has passed)

Scholarship Application

2018 Annual Meeting and Media Advocacy Workshop
March 1-3, 2018

Deadline: Has passed

Making Your Travel Arrangements

Conference Planning Committee

Carolyn Y. Forrest
Program Co-Chair and Forum Chair
Fox Television Stations, LLC
Atlanta, GA

David J. Bodney
Program Co-Chair and Forum Immediate Past Chair
Ballard Spahr
Phoenix, AZ

Dave Giles
Program Co-Chair and Forum Chair Elect
EW Scripps
Cincinnati, OH

Laura Lee Prather
Haynes and Boone, LLP
Austin, TX

Kelli L. Sager
Program Co-Chair and Past Forum Chair
Davis Wright Tremaine
Los Angeles, CA

Sherrese M. Smith
Program Co-Chair
Paul Hastings
Washington, DC

Charles D. Tobin
Program Co-Chair and Past Forum Chair
Holland & Knight
Washington, DC

States typically decide whether a program qualifies for CLE credit in their jurisdiction 4-8 weeks after the program application is submitted.  For many live events, credit approval is not received prior to the program. 

The ABA directly applies for and ordinarily receives credit for live, in-person programs in AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, GA, GU, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VI, VT, WA, WI, and WV.

For the Annual Conference, the ABA will seek 8 hours of CLE credit (which includes 1.2 hours of ethics credit) in 60-minute states and 7 hours of CLE credit (including 1.2 hours of ethics credit) in 50-minute states. Credit hours are estimated and are subject to approval from each state’s approval and credit rounding rules.

Sponsorship Committee

If you are interested in serving as a sponsor for the Forum on Communications Law Annual Meeting, please contact Robert P. Latham, Jackson Walker LLP. Our list of Sponsors will be continuously updated through January 31, 2018.

Sponsorship Committee

  • Bob Latham, Jackson Walker, Chairperson
  • Stephanie Abrutyn
  • Lynn Carrillo, NBCUniversal
  • Karen Flax, Chicago Tribune
  • Lisa Rafferty, Fox Television Stations, LLC
  • Elizabeth Ryder, Nexstar Broadcasting Company

Registrants who are unable to attend the program will receive a refund of the registration fee less a $50.00 administrative fee if a written cancellation is received by February 1, 2018. After February 1, no refunds will be granted. Substitutions are permitted. Cancellations may be sent by email to the Forum on Communications Law at The ABA reserves the right to cancel any program and assumes no responsibility for personal expenses.

2018 Annual Conference | March 1-3, 2018
Silverado Resort & Spa | Napa Valley, CA


Passport Sponsors
The ABA Forum on Communications Law gratefully acknowledges our Passport Sponsors for sponsoring the 2018 Annual Conference, the Media Advocacy Workshop, the First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition, the Women in Communications Law, and all of the Forum's activities during its 2017-18 Conference Year.






Annual Conference Sponsors
The ABA Forum on Communications Law gratefully acknowledges the support of the following sponsors in supporting the 2018 Annual Conference.


First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition Sponsors
The ABA Forum on Communications Law gratefully acknowledges the support of the following sponsors in supporting the 2018 First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition.





Media Advocacy Workshop for Young Lawyers Sponsors
The ABA Forum on Communications Law gratefully acknowledges the support of the following sponsor in supporting the 2018 Media Advocacy Workshop for Young Lawyers.