How can a US court restrain a private company from releasing videos (Planned Parenthood related)?

This is NOT a thread to debate abortion, Planned parenthood, etc.

This is a FACTUAL legal question.

In this CNN article they say:

“A court issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday preventing the Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos featuring leaders of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers.”

How can courts restrain a person or organization from releasing videos? Is it just because the person being recorded it wasn’t aware of the recording? Is it illegal to record someone in a public place against their knowledge?

Apparently they released a fourth video anyway. What kind of repercussions can that have?

It is illegal to record someone without their knowledge in many states, so that’s probably the basis for the restraining order. It’s an illegal wiretap(of sorts) that can be used to do harm to the reputation of the organization in question.

And since corporations have rights, their reputation actually matters in a court of law.

According to this post on the “Popehat” blog, a somewhat stronger case for prior restraint would be that the Center for Medical Progress signed a non-disclosure agreement with the intent of turning around and violating that agreement. (Note that the Popehat bloggers are, in general, very skeptical of prior restraints on free speech; but according to the blogger on that item–Ken White–the non-disclosure agreement would be better or at least not-as-bad as grounds for a court order than California’s two-party law regarding recording of private conversations.)

I’m not a lawyer but…

Since it’s a temporary restraining order, it’s the first shot in a court battle, a ‘just hold your horses until we can sort this out’ order. The underlying reason for the TRO depends on what PP is suing them for. To get a temporary RO to stop them from releasing the video, Planned Parenthood just needs to file a case against them over the videos and put in ‘by the way, please tell them to stop until we’ve settled this’ and the judge has to look at it and decide that it sounds like they have a legit case.

So, if your question is ‘what did they sue them for?’ I don’t know, but probably something to do with the other replies. If the question is ‘how can a court restrain them’ then the answer is because when one entity alleges that another entity is harming them, they can temporarily make them stop until they can all go to court and decide the matter.

Usually, when someone ignores the court order, they are charged with contempt of court.

AFAIU, the released video was not the one for which the TRO was issued.

I believe that the order applied to “leaders of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers” … and not necessarily to videos involving PP.


Thanks for the responses.

Assuming they violated the restraining order by doing so (I have no idea if they did because I’m trying as hard as possible not to follow this “story”) they could be held in indirect contempt, with sanctions ranging from paying the other parties’ attorney’s fees and costs, through fines, and potentially criminal contempt sanctions including jail time.

I don’t know any more than has been provided in the links, but it’s not Planned Parenthood that’s suing.

From the Popehat link - “StemExpress is a broker — it procures human tissue samples and resells them to researchers.”

[They’re suing and asking for injunctive relief because the recording was illeagal.] “(They’re also suing for receipt of stolen property (the documents), conversion — meaning taking StemExpress’ property (the documents again), fraudulent inducement of contract (under the theory that CMP entered into a nondisclosure agreement they indended to break in order to get documents from StemExpress), intentional interference with contract (under the same theory), breach of contract (under the same theory), and unfair competition (under a very annoying California statute that more or less lets anyone sue anyone for anything, anytime, anywhere, for any reason whatsoever, thanks be to God and beach houses for lawyers).”

They’re not suing to suppress the video per se. They’re suing to suppress a recording of a business meeting, which is currently a part of a video. Presumably if the audio of the recording was edited out, it would no longer be subject to the injunction. According to the Popehat review of the court documents “the defendants are free to speak or write about what happened at the meeting, they just can’t release the recording.”

Did they release it themselves? If they had passed a copy to someone else before the court ruling, than the third party would not be subject to the ruling. Again, according to Popehat. IANAL.

Don’t know, don’t care. I am speaking hypothetically.

It is possible for a third party to be subject to a restraining order even if it is not a party to the original case if: it acts in concert with the bound party, or is in privity with it. Beyond that, the entity that is party to the litigation may be sanctioned if it evades the injunction by using a proxy.