Noncommercial speech doesn’t lose its broad First Amendment protections even when it’s tucked into a thicket of advertising, California’s 1st District Court of Appeal held Thursday.

A unanimous three-justice panel dismissed a lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine brought by a class of indie rockers. Led by bands Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up, the plaintiffs accused Rolling Stone of trading on the names of 186 groups listed in a five-page article to sell four pages of neighboring advertisements to R.J. Reynolds in the November 2007 edition.

The magazine’s so-called gatefold layout was intricate. The editorial piece “Indie Rock Universe” included colored-pencil-like graphics and the printed names of leading bands in the musical genre. The article was ensconced in four pages of ads featuring photographic collages that touted Camel cigarettes and the brand’s support of independent record labels.


R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has agreed to end its Camel Farm marketing campaign and pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit by Maryland, which had accused the tobacco giant of using cartoons and brand-name trinkets in advertising to target young consumers, the Maryland attorney general’s office announced Wednesday. Maryland’s regulator contended that the marketing campaign violated the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement that states reached with major tobacco companies when it used cartoons and brand-name giveaways to promote cigarettes. Maryland was one of nine states that sued Reynolds in late 2007, and the first to settle. As part of that settlement, Reynolds also agreed not to distribute any marketing materials created for the campaign, the state regulator said.

You can find The Daily Swarm’s previous coverage of the tobacco wars here.

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