VIRGINIA CITIZENS DEFENSE LEAGUE; DANIEL L. HAWES, ESQ.; PATRICIA WEBB, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
KATIE COURIC; STEPHANIE SOECHTIG; ATLAS FILMS LLC; STUDIO 3 PARTNERS, LLC, d/b/a EPIX, now known as EPIX ENTERTAINMENT LLC, Defendants-Appellees.
Argued: October 30, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Richmond. John A. Gibney, Jr.,
District Judge. (3:16-cv-00757-JAG)
Ronald Oliveri, CLARE LOCKE LLP, Alexandria, Virginia, for
Ellis Siegel, DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE LLP, Washington, D.C.,
A. Clare, Elizabeth M. Locke, Megan L. Meier, CLARE LOCKE
LLP, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellants.
T. Baine, Thomas G. Hentoff, Nicholas G. Gamse, Emily A.
Rose, WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY LLP, Washington, D.C.;
Elizabeth A. McNamara, DAVIS WRIGHT TREMAINE LLP, New York,
New York, for Appellees.
GREGORY, Chief Judge, and MOTZ and WYNN, Circuit Judges.
GRIBBON MOTZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE
case arises from the creation and publication of Under
the Gun, a documentary film on gun violence in America.
Aggrieved at their portrayal in the film, appellants -
Virginia Citizens Defense League and two of its members,
Daniel L. Hawes, and Patricia Webb - filed this action. They
alleged defamation by the film's creators, appellees
Katie Couric, Stephanie Soechtig, Atlas Films LLC, and Studio
3 Partners, LLC (doing business as Epix Entertainment LLC).
The district court dismissed their complaint, and appellants
appeal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
2016, journalist Couric and filmmaker Soechtig released a
documentary titled Under the Gun. The documentary
concerns gun policy in America, and it takes a perspective
favoring regulation. Couric narrated the film, interviewed
participants, and served as an executive producer. Soechtig
directed and edited the film, which Atlas Films produced and
the film advocates for gun control, its creators assertedly
sought to present viewpoints from organizations that opposed
measures like universal background checks. To that end, a
producer employed by Atlas Films contacted the Virginia
Citizens Defense League ("VCDL"), a non-profit
gun-rights organization, and set up an interview with ...