Seth D. Berlin

Partner He / Him / His
Washington, DC
Seth D. Berlin has represented clients in First Amendment, defamation, privacy, access, reporter's privilege, copyright, and trademark disputes for more than 25 years. He has appeared on behalf of media clients in numerous federal trial and appeals courts, and in state courts throughout the country.

Seth's clients include television and radio networks, station owners, cable television networks, production companies, national and local newspapers, magazine publishers, websites, and specialty publications. He also regularly represents advocacy groups and political organizations in enforcing and defending their First Amendment rights. He has successfully handled numerous copyright and trademark disputes for publishers, advertising agencies, and music houses, as well as for publishers focused on unauthorized access to password-protected areas of their websites.

Experience 

Representative Matters

  • Successfully obtained a preliminary injunction on behalf of a coalition of Maryland newspapers enjoining enforcement of a new Maryland statute that imposed various obligations on websites that publish online political advertising. The federal district court ruled that the statute is subject to strict scrutiny under the First Amendment and is unconstitutional as applied to the newspapers and their websites.
  • Successfully defended the National Jewish Democratic Council and two of its officials in a defamation action brought by billionaire casino magnate and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. The case arose from a petition NJDC posted on the Internet urging Republican candidates not to accept campaign contributions from Adelson. Seth and his colleagues secured victories in the Southern District of New York, the Second Circuit and the Nevada Supreme Court, including under the Nevada Anti-SLAPP Act, resulting in an award of attorneys' fees and costs in his clients' favor of almost $2 million.
  • Successfully represented a coalition of Canadian media organizations in challenging a request to seal the entire judicial record of divorce proceedings in Maryland involving Julie Payette, following her designation by Queen Elizabeth II as Governor General of Canada

Professional Highlights

Professional Activities

ABA Forum on Communications Law, past Governing Board

ABA Media Advocacy Workshop, Founder

Georgetown University Law Center, Adjunct Professor of Media Law

Philip Merrill College of Journalism of the University of Maryland, Adjunct Professor of Media Law, 2006

Recognition & Accomplishments

Chambers USA, Media & Entertainment Law, Washington, D.C., 2008-2021

The Best Lawyers in America, First Amendment litigation and Media Law, Washington, D.C., 2010-2020, 2022

The Legal 500, Media and Entertainment: Litigation, 2020, 2021

Washington, D.C., Super Lawyers, 2010-2017

Publications

Co-author, Newsgathering and the Law, Lexis Law Publishing, 5th ed., 2018

"Teach Your Children: High School Students and the First Amendment," Communications Lawyer, July 2008

"Planned Parenthood v. ACLA: Are the Nuremberg Files and 'Wanted' Posters Protected Advocacy or Unprotected Threat?" Communications Lawyer, Summer 2002

Credentials 

Education

Harvard Law School (J.D., cum laude, 1991)

Brown University (B.A., magna cum laude, 1988)

Admissions

District of Columbia

Maryland

New York

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York