Mm ch 14 media law

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  • 1. Mass Media Jason Nix Journalism Instructor and Program Director JOURN 110 Spokane Falls Community College
  • 2. Chapter 14 Media Law: Understanding Freedom of Expression Chapter Outline • History • Today’s Media Law • Controversies
  • 3. A Brief History of Media Law The Development of the Philosophy of Free Speech • John Milton’s Areopagitica (1644) • The freedom to protest was important to the many founders of the American colonies who had broken away from the Roman Catholic Church. • England’s licensing laws followed them across the Atlantic and hampered freedom of expression for over 100 years
  • 4. A Brief History of Media Law • Seditious libel laws • Made it illegal to criticize the government or its representatives • Zenger Trial • The 1735 acquittal of John Peter Zenger established that a person should not be punished for publishing truthful criticism of the government • Contempt • Willful disobedience of the rules of a court or legislative body • Prior restraint
  • 5. A Brief History of Media Law The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guaranteed citizens five rights: • Religion • Speech • Press • Assembly • Petition
  • 6. A Brief History of Media Law • Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) • The Comstock Act (1873) • The Clear and Present Danger Doctrine (1919) • Smith Act (1940)
  • 7. A Brief History of Media Law • Investigative journalists influenced passage of laws such as the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which lead to restrictions in what and how the media could advertise. • In 1917, the Espionage Act upheld the censorship of ideas considered injurious to the war effort. • The Sedition Act of 1918 made any criticism of President Woodrow Wilson’s administration illegal. • Newspapers were silenced by orders and prosecutions. • Individual critics of the WW I were rounded up without warrants and held incommunicado without bail and sometimes sent to prison.
  • 8. A Brief History of Media Law Regulating Broadcasting • The Communications Act of 1934 • Equal Opportunity Rule part of the Communications Act of 1934, still in effect • The Fairness Doctrine (1949-1987) • Ownership limitations • AT&T and the Baby Bells (1974-1982) • Ronald Reagan: strong and powerful advocate of deregulation, believed free markets would control themselves without government interference • Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • 9. A Brief History of Media Law • Roth v. United States (1957) • In 1964 Justice Potter Stewart’s famous 1964 definition of obscenity: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it.” • indecency • Shock jock Howard Stern tested this constantly before moving to satellite radio on a $500 million contract.
  • 10. A Brief History of Media Law • Pentagon Papers (1971) • Wikileaks (2010)
  • 11. A Brief History of Media Law • Current Trends in Media Law • Different countries/ different rules • Be careful writing about public figures in England • Germans are still touchy about Nazism • Don’t insult Islam or “Arabness” in Jordan • Concentration of Ownership • Big legal bills/ big payoffs for attorneys • New Technology • Communications Decency Act (1996) deals with transmission of indecent and obscene material over the Internet if minors can access it
  • 12. Understanding Today’s Media Law
  • 13. Understanding Today’s Media Law
  • 14. Understanding Today’s Media Law Protection of Rights • Personal Rights: An individual’s right to be left alone, especially in one’s home, has been established through common law. • USA PATRIOT Act
  • 15. Understanding Today’s Media Law • Private facts • Intrusion • Appropriation • Defamation • Slander • Libel • A public figure must prove actual malice
  • 16. Understanding Today’s Media Law • Four defenses against a libel charge • Truth • The NY Times rule (actual malice) • Privilege • Reporters enjoy qualified privilege, which allows them to report on court proceedings • Fair comment and criticism • 70 percent of Libel verdicts are overturned or reduced on appeal
  • 17. Understanding Today’s Media Law • The chilling effect: Still, the average cost of defending a libel suit is $100,000. • Libel law began as a protection for personal rights, but has now expanded to include protections of institutions, companies, and products. • Trade libel • Defamation of a company or its products is referred to as product disparagement or trade libel.
  • 18. Understanding Today’s Media Law • Intellectual Property Rights • Copyright law grants the author of a work the right to make and distribute copies of that work for a specified period. • For works created after 1978: protection is the life of the author plus 70 years. For works created before 1978 the copyright lasts a total of 95 years no matter how long the author lives. • First-sale doctrine allows purchasers of copies of a copyrighted work to resell it or rent it out. • Copyright does not protect ideas, only the expression of ideas, such as a screenplay or novel.
  • 19. Understanding Today’s Media Law • The copyright sign does not have to appear in a work for it to be protected. • Fair use • Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998 which made it a crime to break through any technology intended to secure digital copies of software, literary works, videos, and music.
  • 20. Understanding Today’s Media Law Trademarks • Trademarks as generic terms • Fair use of trademarks • Expressions as trademarks
  • 21. Understanding Today’s Media Law • Patent • Federal copyright law
  • 22. Understanding Today’s Media Law • Newsgathering Rights • Sunshine laws • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) • Shield law
  • 23. Controversies • In the legal sense, censorship is either prior restraint or prosecutions after the fact by governmental organizations. • Some forms of speech are more protected than others. • Political speech • Artistic speech • Commercial speech • Indecent speech
  • 24. Controversies
  • 25. Controversies Conflicting Rights • Free Press/Fair Trial: Courts tried gag orders but the Supreme Court found those unconstitutional. • In a continuance the trial is postponed until publicity dies down • Juries are sequestered to shield them from press influence. • Change of venue moves the trial to a different location. • Judges admonish juries not to read, watch or listen to news reports. • Cameras are allowed in some state courtrooms but are banned in federal courts.g
  • 26. Chapter 14 Media Law: Understanding Freedom of Expression Chapter Outline • History • Today’s Media Law • Controversies
  • 27. Mass Media Jason Nix Journalism Instructor and Program Director JOURN 110 Spokane Falls Community College