• 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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  • Legal Hotline: Advertising tax-free cigarettes

      • Sep 17, 2015
    Q: A cigarette outlet on a Native American reservation in another state wants to advertiser tax free cigarettes in our paper. Is that OK? A: No, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue takes the position that claims of tax-free cigarettes are false and misleading, and as such, they should not be published by newspapers.
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  • Legal Hotline: Public Meeting Policy

      • Sep 10, 2015
    Q: A borough policy requires citizens to notify the agency in advance if they plan to record public meetings. The policy also threatens criminal sanctions if a citizen records a public meeting without permission from the agency. Does the Sunshine Act allow them to do this?
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  • Legal Hotline: Inspection of public records

      • Sep 03, 2015
    Q: Does the RTKL require agencies to allow inspection of public records? I just want to look at meeting minutes, but the agency said I need to pay for copies.
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  • Legal Hotline: RTKL and student settlements

      • Aug 20, 2015
    Q: I filed a RTKL request with a local school district, seeking access to all settlement agreements that involve students that were entered into last year. The school district denied access, citing confidentiality clauses and FERPA, arguing that the settlements are not public because they are educational records. Can they do that?
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  • Legal Hotline: Google Maps

      • Aug 13, 2015
    Q: Can we use Google Maps images in print ads? What about in ads appearing on our website?
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  • Legislative Alert: PNA Opposes House Bill 1119

      • Jun 12, 2015
    In the House on Monday, the House Education Committee has scheduled consideration of a bill of interest to PNA. House Bill 1119, authored by Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), would permit school districts to apply for waivers of certain mandates upon a showing of need.
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  • Commonwealth Court affirms independence of Office of Open Records, reinstates Arneson

      • Jun 10, 2015
    The Commonwealth Court today issued an opinion in the case challenging the removal of Erik Arneson as executive director of the Office of Open Records (OOR). The majority of the court, in an opinion authored by Judge Patricia A. McCullough, ordered that Arneson be restored as Executive Director of the OOR with backpay and benefits. The majority also found that Governor Wolf exceeded his removal power under the state constitution in dismissing Arneson from the post.
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  • PNA opposes SB444, Right to Know Law amendment

      • Sep 25, 2014
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  • Out-of-state liquor store ads

      • Aug 14, 2014
    Q: An out-of-state liquor store wants to advertise in our paper. The store is on the Pennsylvania border, and its alcohol selection is extensive and well-priced. Can we accept ads for out-of-state liquor stores?
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  • Privacy Forum at Penn State Lehigh Valley

      • Jul 01, 2014
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  • Legal Hotline: Google Maps images

      • Mar 13, 2014
    Q: Can we use Google Maps images in print ads? What about in ads appearing on our website?
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  • Opinion: How much do elected officials trust you?

      • Mar 06, 2014
    It's an election year in Pennsylvania. Like dandelions in spring, legislators and their challengers will be popping up everywhere. They'll be visiting civic clubs, fraternal organizations, classrooms, parades and debates, asking you to trust them enough to put them in charge. This means you'll get a chance to find out how much they trust you.
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