Federal court deals blow to law restricting use of videos from the floor of the California state Assembly

A federal district judge in California granted a preliminary injunction on enforcing a ban on the use of video from the state Assembly for political advertising. The ruling allows the Firearms Policy Coalition to use Assembly footage for ads against a proposed ballot initiative tightening California’s gun laws. (Madison.Com, June 22, 2016, by Don Thompson of The Associated Press)

One of the lawyers for the coalition, Eugene Volokh, The Washington Post, June 23, 2016, summarized the decision by the judge including the rejection of the argument that since some of those involved in producing the ads would profit from the ad, they should have less access to protection under the First Amendment. The judge also found lacking the argument that the state had  “compelling government interest” in suppressing the speech to protect the integrity of the legislative process and rejected the argument that the use of the footage would infringe state copyright. The court cited precedents of cases establishing the First Amendment right of the press and others to use public records to inform the public of governmental action.

In the meantime, the California state Senate dropped a provision in a law that would have granted the government new copyright and trademark powers that would have put new restrictions on the California Public Records Act. (Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 22, 2016, by Mitch Stolotz)