• Editorial Round Up - Week of Feb. 1

      • Feb 08, 2016
    A weekly review of legal and legislative editorials.
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  • Legal Hotline: Beer delivery

      • Feb 04, 2016
    Q: Several local bars and restaurants that deliver food want to run ads that tell readers they can now deliver beer along with a food order. We have seen ads saying things like “now delivering beer,” or “beer delivery/up to two six packs.” Can they do that, and can we publish that kind of ad?
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  • Email discussion by board members raises Sunshine Act concerns

      • Feb 04, 2016
    Emails obtained in a RTKL request showed that Chambersburg Area School board members apparently held a series of email discussions over a one week period in December.
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  • Editorial Round Up - Week of Jan. 25

      • Feb 01, 2016
    A weekly review of legal and legislative topics.
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  • Legal Hotline: Super Bowl logos

      • Jan 28, 2016
    Q: What are the rules when using terms like “Super Bowl,” “Super Sunday,” and NFL team names and logos in ads?
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  • Editorial Round Up - Week of Jan. 18

      • Jan 26, 2016
    A summary of the week's editorials relevant to legal and legislative issues
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  • Legal Hotline: Snow Emergency

      • Jan 22, 2016
    Q: Some of our carriers were ticketed by local police for delivering during the recent snow storms. Don’t news media personnel have the right to drive on roads that have been closed to the general public, such as during some snow emergencies? A: Yes. Under Pennsylvania Law, certain vehicles are given special operating privileges on Pennsylvania roads. More specifically, the law grants certain privileges to vehicles used in the business of newsgathering for any news medium.
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  • Legal Hotline: HIPAA directory update

      • Jan 14, 2016
    Q: I asked a hospital treating a man involved in a serious car accident about his status. The hospital refused and said HIPAA prevents the release of all patient information. Does HIPAA prevent hospitals from releasing any and all information about patients?
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  • Legal Hotline: Sunshine notice for regular meetings

      • Jan 07, 2016
    Q: Does the Sunshine Act require agencies to provide a general meeting notice at the beginning of the year, and if so, what are the requirements? A: Yes, the Sunshine Act requires agencies to provide public notice of its regular meeting schedule.
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  • Legal Hotline: Right to Know Law response extension

      • Dec 17, 2015
    Q: An agency requested an additional 30 days in which to respond to my Right to Know Law request. The agency’s estimated response date gives them 30 business days to produce a final response. I thought agencies were limited to 30 calendar days. Which is correct: 30 business or 30 calendar days for an agency time extension?
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  • Legal Hotline: Police video

      • Dec 10, 2015
    Q: Are police dash camera videos public records under the Right to Know Law? A: Yes, the Commonwealth Court has held that state police dash camera video is presumptively public under the Right to Know Law, subject to redaction.
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  • Legal Hotline: Budget copies

      • Dec 03, 2015
    Q: A borough in our coverage area gave public notice of its proposed budget, and when I asked for a copy, borough officials refused and said the public isn’t entitled to a copy. Borough officials said that I can look at a copy at the borough building during specific inspection times, but the hours are very limited. Can they do that? A: No. A proposed budget is a public record, and copies must be provided. Moreover, the proposed budget must be available for public inspection during the county’s normal business hours.
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  • Legal Hotline: Gift card promotion

      • Nov 19, 2015
    Q: We are considering implementing a promotion that would give new subscribers gift cards redeemable at businesses that advertise with us. Some advertisers want to make the gift cards expire after one year. Does the law prohibit expiration dates on gift cards? Are the rules the same for paper and electronic gift cards? A: Federal law prohibits gift cards from expiring for at least five years from the date the card was purchased, or from the last date any additional money was loaded onto the card.
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  • Legal Hotline: Housing for older persons

      • Nov 05, 2015
    Q: What documentation is required in order for newspapers to allow “adult 55+,” “retirement community,” or “senior housing” in a housing ad? A: Newspaper publishers are generally not liable for this type of wording in housing ads if they rely in good faith on the advertiser’s formal, written statement regarding its ability to provide housing for older persons as defined by law. Advertisers must also address federal anti-discrimination laws in their written statement.
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  • Legal Hotline: Right to Know response time calculation

      • Oct 29, 2015
    Q: I submitted a RTKL request to a local agency on Monday morning via email, but didn’t hear back from them until Friday, when the RTKL officer “acknowledged receipt” of my request via a reply email. Their message also said they are beginning the RTKL time calculation beginning Friday rather than the day I actually emailed my request. Is that right? A: The Right to Know Law’s response time provision has been interpreted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to start running against an agency when the agency’s RTKL officer actually receives the written request.
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  • Legal Hotline: Last minute political ads

      • Oct 22, 2015
    Q: Isn't there a rule in Pennsylvania that restricts last-minute political ads? A: Yes, but it was declared unconstitutional and is unenforceable.
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  • Legal Hotline: Email deliberation

      • Oct 15, 2015
    Q: A local borough is facing a large and unexpected invoice. Borough council president emailed co-council members about the budget shortfall and asked for proposed spending cuts and opinions on each proposal. Does this solicit “deliberation” outside of a public meeting, and can elected officials use email to deliberate outside a public meeting? A: There is no exception to the Sunshine Act that allows deliberations by a quorum to take place in the manner described, and the email discussion raises Sunshine Act compliance issues.
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  • Legal Hotline: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

      • Oct 08, 2015
    Q: Occasionally, readers will post copyright-protected material on our Web site. Is there any way to avoid a potential copyright infringement claim in this situation? A: Yes, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. §1201, et seq., offers website operators a safe harbor from copyright infringement liability resulting from third party postings, if certain conditions are met.
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  • Legal Hotline: HUD Fair Housing Notice

      • Oct 01, 2015
    Q: Are newspapers required to run an equal opportunity notice as part of the real estate classified section? A: There is no Pennsylvania or federal law that requires newspapers in Pennsylvania to publish a fair housing notice, but federal fair housing regulations encourage publishers to do so.
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  • Legal Hotline: On-campus crime statistics

      • Sep 24, 2015
    There are several public colleges and universities in our circulation area, and I’m working on a story about crimes that occur on campus. I requested access to information about crimes from campus police, but they denied access based on the criminal investigation exception to the Right to Know Law. Isn’t this information public?
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