Butzel's Media Law Practice Department is an active force in media law at state and national levels. We routinely handle all aspects of the legal challenges faced by the media industry and advise a variety of media organizations as they seek to serve the public interest. Our clients include traditional media outlets with traditional media issues and emerging technology groups and digital businesses needing advice on data protection and cybercrimes. We also advise clients with respect to publishing and royalty disputes, representing both publishers and authors.

The attorneys in this Practice Department possess extensive experience in traditional areas such as libel and privacy, newsroom counseling, state and federal Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act disputes, entry into courtrooms and other public proceedings, and access to public records. We advise on the gamut of newsgathering issues, subpoena, and access litigation. We are also experienced in representing clients concerning digital media, including advertising clearance, the Communications Decency Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, user agreements including terms of use and privacy policies, international privacy protection, endorsement issues, content licensing, branding, website and software development, PCI compliance, and cybersquatting.

We are dedicated to helping clients avoid litigation by regularly counseling on legal issues throughout content development. We conduct, for example, pre-publication reviews and seminars to help avoid costly litigation. Yet—when the need arises—our attorneys are well prepared, bringing experience to the table, with a rich history of successful litigation of traditional and digital media issues at the trial and appellate levels, as we actively participate in the development of First Amendment theory and practice.

Our clients are diverse and sophisticated, conducting their business both on and offline. Our digital media clients range from bloggers and social media boards to internet start-up companies.

Advertising, marketing, branding and promotion clients include:

  • Lafayette American
  • Xperience Communications
  • LUIS Technologies
  • DRiV
  • Bank On Yourself
  • Gonogos

Our press and publishing clients include:

  • Advance Publications
  • Amazon
  • Ballotpedia
  • Bridge Michigan
  • BuzzFeed
  • CBS Broadcasting Inc.
  • CNN
  • Detroit News
  • Detroit Public TV
  • Digital First Media
  • Discovery Communications
  • E!
  • Flint Journal
  • Fox TV
  • Gannett Co., Inc.
  • Graham Media
  • Gray TV
  • Lansing State Journal
  • Macomb Daily
  • Michigan Newspapers, Inc., (MPAS)
  • Michigan Press Association
  • Monroe Evening News
  • Nexstar
  • New York Times
  • Oakland Press
  • Ogemaw County Herald
  • Petoskey News Review
  • Scripps Media, Inc.
  • Sinclair Broadcast Group
  • Traverse City Record Eagle
  • WDIV Channel 4 Detroit
  • WWMT
  • WXYZ-TV Channel 7


Areas of Concentration

Alerts & Publications

News & Events


Speaking Engagements


  • Levitt v. Morning Sun, obtained dismissal of defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims on interlocutory appeal, after trial court denial of summary judgment. No. 330946 (Mich. App. May 16, 2017) (unpublished)
  • Doe v. Cox Communications (No. 17-108537-CZ, Genesee County Circuit Court 2017). Obtained trial court dismissal with prejudice of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and related claims under Section 230 of the Communications Decency A
  • McAllister v. Oakland Press (No. 17-157375-CZ, Oakland County Circuit Court 2017). Obtained dismissal of defamation lawsuit prior to start of discovery.
  • Huizenga v. Gwynn, 225 F. Supp. 3d 647 (E.D. Mich. 2016). Acting as local counsel, assisted in successfully obtaining dismissal of the New York Post on jurisdictional grounds.
  • Nakash v. Hamtramck Review, No. 326152 (Mich. App. Mar. 15, 2016) (unpublished). Preserved trial court dismissal of defamation and tortious interference lawsuit.
  • Successfully obtained Show Cause Order upon filing FOIA suit with public body settling as a result.
  • People v. Leist, No. 14-049-FY (Mich. Dist. Ct.), secured dismissal of a criminal action against a photographer filed in connection with photographs of an airplane crash site.
  • Gary v. Discovery Communications (No. 12-10521, E.D. Mich. Feb. 28, 2013). Obtained dismissal of defamation lawsuit.
  • Gary v. E!, No. 304720 (Mich. App. Aug. 23, 2012) (unpublished). Obtained dismissal, affirmed on appeal.
  • Johnson v. Herald-Palladium. Obtained dismissal of defamation lawsuit prior to start of discovery
  • Shumake v. WJBK. Successfully obtained dismissal of defamation/privacy claims against defendant broadcasters (2011)
  • McIntosh v. The Detroit News, 2009 Mich. App. LEXIS 128; 37 Media L. Rep. 1193 (2009) (unpublished) (libel/fair report privilege)
  • Detroit News v. City of Detroit. Represented newspaper in lawsuit under Michigan Freedom of Information Act for release of text messages involving Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick and his Chief of Staff. Michigan Supreme Court Docket No. 135841, Michigan Court of
  • Hamilton v. Detroit News, 2008 Mich. App. LEXIS 1729 (Mich. App. Aug. 26, 2008) (unpublished) (libel/privacy by prominent club owner)
  • Fewins v. Grand Traverse Record Eagle, Case No. 08-8223-NO (Benzie County Circuit Court) (defamation case brought by county sheriff)
  • Cecil Fielder v. Greater Media, Inc., No. 267495 (Mich. App. July 25, 2006) (unpublished) (libel lawsuit by former Detroit Tigers All-Star)
  • United States v. Koubriti, 252 F. Supp. 2d 424, 31 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1940 (E.D. Mich. 2003) (closure of voir dire in first post 9-11 terrorism trial)
  • In re DaimlerChrysler AG Sec. Litig., 216 F.R.D. 395, 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15145 (E.D. Mich. 2003) (reporters’ privilege arising out of publication of book on the Daimler/Chrysler merger)
  • International Sports Marketing v. Saatchi & Saatchi North America, Inc. Obtained reversal of trial court’s imposition of default judgment in excess of $20M against client. 2002 Mich. App. LEXIS 1877, December 3, 2002
  • Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, 303 F.3d 681, 30 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 2313 (6th Cir. 2002) (closure of immigration proceedings)
  • Detroit News, Inc. v. Policemen & Firemen Ret. Sys., 252 Mich. App. 59; 651 N.W.2d 127 (2002) (FOIA)
  • The Detroit News v. Wayne County, Docket #235831 (Mich App 2002) (unpublished) (FOIA case involving wage and other information)
  • Olympia Entertainment Inc. v. Brass Ring Productions. Represented plaintiff in series of commercial disputes, successfully obtaining partial summary disposition and injunctive relief. 467 Mich. 855 (2002); 2002 Mich. App. LEXIS 621.
  • Tomkiewicz v. Detroit News, 246 Mich. App. 662 (2001). Represented newspaper in defending defamation and privacy suit. Successfully obtained summary judgment in favor of defendant
  • Cross v. Detroit News, 29 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 2439 (Mich. App. 2001) (libel claim by business owner)
  • American Transmission v. Channel 7 of Detroit, 239 Mich. App. 695; 609 N.W.2d 607; 28 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1823 (2000) (libel/other torts involving “Call for Action” investigation)
  • People v. Pastor (In re March 1999 MSU Riots), 463 Mich. 378, 617 N.W.2d 310, 2000 Mich. LEXIS 1493, 28 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 2398 (2000) (reporter’s privilege arising out of riots at MSU following NCAA “March Madness” game)
  • Kevorkian v. American Medical Association, 237 Mich. App. 1, 602 N.W.2d 233; 28 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1532 (1999) (libel claim by Dr. Jack Kevorkian)
  • Teamsters Local 372 v. Detroit Newspaper Agency. Defended employer in § 1983 suit brought by unions and bringing RICO counterclaim. Successful survived multiple motions to dismiss RICO counterclaim. 956 F. Supp. 753 (1997); 993 F. Supp. 1052 (1998)
  • Fronning v. Jenny Jones Show, 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 5725 (6th Cir. 1996) (invasion of privacy claim by stripper who appeared on Jenny Jones show)
  • Michigan v. Schmitz, 24 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 2535 (Mich. App. 1996) (court access involving murder trial arising out of “same sex-crush” Jenny Jones show)
  • Northland Wheels Skating Center, Inc. v. Detroit News et al, 213 Mich. App 317 (1995). Represented newspaper in defending defamation suit. Successfully obtained summary judgment
  • Garvelink v. Detroit News, 206 Mich. App. 604 (1994). Represented newspaper in defending defamation suit. Successfully obtained summary judgment
  • Detroit News, Inc. v. Recorder's Court Judge, 202 Mich. App. 595 (1993) (access to court records)
  • Locricchio v. Evening News Ass’n, 438 Mich. 84; 476 N.W.2d 112 (1991); cert. denied, 503 U.S. 907 (1992) (libel case involving reporting on mafia connections to Pine Knob)
  • Pesta v. CBS, Inc. (60 Minutes), 653 F. Supp. 350 (E.D. Mich. 1986); 686 F. Supp. 166 (E.D. Mich. 1988); 837 F.2d 1091 (6th Cir. 1988). Represented defendants and ultimately obtained jury verdict of no-cause after multi-week trial.
  • Advising and representing media entities throughout Michigan (and the United States) on obtaining records under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, including handling administrative appeals, negotiating resolution, and pursuing legal action.
  • Advising and representing media entities throughout Michigan on Michigan’s Open Meetings Act, including challenging closures informally, negotiating resolution, and pursuing legal action.
  • Submitted multiple amicus briefs in various courts on media issues for multiple clients, including media associations, newspapers and broadcasters.
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