William Briggs

Partner, Litigation

Venable LLP

William Briggs has handled a number of high-profile matters within the entertainment industry over the last year. Most notably, in a groundbreaking ruling, a California Appellate Court affirmed the decision of a trial court to dismiss a lawsuit against actor and comedian Marlon Wayans alleging harassment and discrimination over a tweet comparing a movie extra to a cartoon character. The court resoundingly ruled that the word was not an epithet but instead was a term of endearment in the context in which it was used, and that Marlon Wayans' First Amendment rights trumped the claim of discrimination.

The court broke ground by ruling that Wayans' tweet, which contained a picture of the plaintiff and the Cleveland Brown cartoon character, was transformative, since it juxtaposed the images with Wayans' lampoon commentary and therefore was protected speech. The Appellate Court upheld the award of attorneys' fees and granted additional appellate costs to Wayans.

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