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Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale

20 A.3d 364 (2011)

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Too Much Media, LLC v. Hale

New Jersey Supreme Court

20 A.3d 364 (2011)

Facts

Shellee Hale (defendant) was a self-proclaimed investigator and journalist researching corruption in the adult-entertainment industry. Hale created a website, Pornafia, on which she intended to post news about the industry to the public. Pornafia was never fully launched. Hale eventually turned her investigation to the security breach of an adult-entertainment website operated by John Albright, Charles Berrebbi, and their company, Too Much Media, Inc. (defendants). The breach revealed the identities of Too Much Media customers who believed they were anonymously registering for pornographic websites. Hale posted comments on an online message board, Oprano, claiming Too Much Media made money from the breach and were making threats against people who questioned the company’s conduct. Albright, Berrebbi, and Too Much Media sued Hale in New Jersey state court for defamation and false light based on her comments on the Oprano message board. Hale invoked the New Jersey reporter’s shield law, arguing that she was a journalist who posted the comments on Oprano to inform the public and to facilitate debate. Hale also claimed that the posted comments were excerpts of articles she intended to publish on Pornafia. The trial court held that Hale was not protected under the shield law. Hale appealed, and the trial court was affirmed. Hale filed an interlocutory appeal, which was granted by the New Jersey Supreme Court as to the issue of whether the New Jersey shield law protected Hale.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rabner, C.J.)

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